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Pompey and Julia


Bust of Caesar. Antikensammlung, Berlin (Germany). Photo Jona Lendering. In 59, Julius Caesar, Crassus and Pompey concluded the First Triumvirate. The deal was confirmed by marriage; Pompey married to Caesar's daughter Julia. The Greek author Plutarch of Chaeronea describes this marriage in chapter 53 of his Life of Pompey.

The translation below was made by Robin Seager.

On the other hand, the resentment felt against Pompey also increased. This was because he handed over his province and his armies to subordinate commanders who were friends of his, while he himself spent all his time with his wife, going about Italy from one pleasure resort to another, whether because he was so deeply in love with her or (this reason also is given) because she was so much in love with him that he could not bear to leave her. Certainly the young wife's fondness for her husband was notorious, and Pompey, at his age, scarcely seemed to be a fit object for such passionate devotion. The reason for it seems to have lain in his constancy as a husband (since he remained entirely faithful to his own wife), and also in his ability to unbend from his dignity and to become really charming in personal relationships [...].

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Bust of Pompey the Great. Louvre, Paris (France). Photo Marco Prins.
Pompey the Great (Louvre)

Once it happened that during the elections for the aedileships a fight broke out and numbers of people were killed near the place where Pompey was standing. As he was covered with their blood he changed his clothes. His servants ran to his house with the blood-stained garments, making a great noise, and his young wife, who was pregnant at the time, fainted at the sight of the toga all covered with blood, and was only brought back to life again with great difficulty. As it was, the shock to her feelings caused a miscarriage.

It was natural, therefore, that even those who most disapproved of Pompey because of his friendship with Caesar could not blame him for the love he felt for his wife. Later, however, she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter; but she died in the process of giving birth and the child only survived her for a few days [September 54]. Pompey made preparations to have her buried at his country estate near Alba, but the people insisted on taking the body down to the Field of Mars to be buried there. They did this rather out of pity for the young woman than as a mark of favor to Pompey.

 



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