Pompey called the Great ( Latin : Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus) (106 B.C.-48 B.C.), a Roman general and a member with Julius Caesar and Marcus Crassus of the First Triumvirate. He was an energetic and effective military commander, but when he won political power he was indecisive and inept. Eventually he tried to discredit Caesar and win all power for himself, and so caused his own downfall.

Pompey, son of an army commander who had served as consul, became a commander himself in his early 20's. It was the period of Rome's civil wars, and Pompey gave his support to Sulla in the war against Marius. Pompey defeated Marius' forces first in Italy, then in Sicily and Africa. In reward, Sulla named him “the Great."

After Sulla's death Pompey was sent by the Roman Senate to Spain in 77 B.C., to destroy remnants of Marius' supporters. When he returned to Italy in 71 B.C., he and Crassus, another young general, had themselves elected consuls for the year 70 B.C. Pompey gained further military glory in 67 B.C. by ridding the Mediterranean Sea of pirates. He was then put in charge of the war against Mithridates, king of Pontus. After a victory in Asia Minor, Pompey went on to annex Syria and conquer Palestine (63 B.C.). The Senate feared that he would make himself dictator, but Pompey disbanded his army when he returned to Rome.

Julius Caesar was elected consul for 59 B.C., and formed with Crassus and Pompey a coalition known as the First Triumvirate. The three were in effect a dictatorship. When the Senate opposed a distribution of land to Pompey's veterans, Pompey threatened force, and most of the senatorial leaders withdrew from Rome. Caesar had his daughter Julia married to Pompey in 59 B.C., and the next year led an expedition to Gaul that lasted for nine years. Pompey became commissioner of the grain supply in 57 B.C., and he and Crassus were again joint consuls in 55 B.C. Crassus then took command of the armies in the east, and was killed in 53 B.C.

In Rome political rivalries led to a state of chaos, and Pompey had himself made sole consul for 52 B.C. He began a series of maneuvers to strip Caesar, who had won renown by subduing Gaul, of future power. In 49 B.C. Caesar crossed the Rubicon River from Cisalpine Gaul into Italy and marched against Pompey, who retreated to Greece. During the following year Caesar took his forces to Greece and in eastern Thessaly routed Pompey's army at the battle of Pharsalus. Pompey fled to Egypt where Ptolemy XII, afraid to protect him, had him slain.