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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Imperators| ▸ |Pompeians||View Options:  |  |  | 

Pompey the Great and his sons Sextus and Gnaeus Pompey Junior

Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Pompey the Great, rose to prominence serving the dictator Sulla as a commander in the civil war of 83-82 B.C. Pompey's success as a general at a young age enabled him to advance to his first Roman consulship without following the traditional cursus honorum. He was consul three times. He served as a commander in the Sertorian War, the Third Servile War, the Third Mithridatic War, and in various other military campaigns. For his victories, Pompey was awarded three triumphs and the cognomen Magnus "the Great." In 60 B.C., Pompey joined Crassus and Caesar in a military-political alliance, the First Triumvirate. Pompey married Caesar's daughter, Julia, which helped secure this partnership. After the deaths of Crassus and Julia, Pompey became an ardent supporter of the Optimates a conservative faction of the Senate. Pompey and Caesar then contended for leadership of Rome, culminating in civil war. Pompey was defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 B.C. He sought refuge in Ptolemaic Egypt, where he was assassinated.

After the murder of their father, Gnaeus Pompey Magnus Junior and his brother Sextus, together with Metellus Scipio, Cato the Younger and other senators, continued to oppose Caesar. In 46 B.C., Caesar defeated Metellus Scipio and Cato, who subsequently committed suicide, at the Battle of Thapsus. Gnaeus escaped and joined with Sextus and, in Hispania, raised yet another army. On 17 March 45 B.C., the armies met in the battle of Munda. The large armies were led by able generals and the battle was closely fought. A cavalry charge by Caesar turned events to his side. In the panicked escape that followed, Titus Labienus and an estimated 30,000 of the Pompeian men died. Gnaeus and Sextus managed to escape once again, but it was now clear Caesar had won the civil war. Within a few weeks, Gnaeus Pompeius was caught and executed for treason. Sextus Pompey outlived Caesar. See his coins below for the rest of his story.

Roman Republic, Sextus Pompey, Imperator and Prefect of the Fleet, Executed 35 B.C., Portrait of Pompey the Great

|Pompeians|, |Roman| |Republic,| |Sextus| |Pompey,| |Imperator| |and| |Prefect| |of| |the| |Fleet,| |Executed| |35| |B.C.,| |Portrait| |of| |Pompey| |the| |Great||denarius|
Struck by Sextus Pompey after his victory over Salvidienus and relates to his acclamation as the Son of Neptune. Although Sextus Pompey was the supreme naval commander, Octavian had the Senate declare him a public enemy. He turned to piracy and came close to defeating Octavian. He was, however, defeated by Marcus Agrippa at the naval battle of Naulochus (3 September 36 B.C.). He was executed by order of Mark Antony in 35 B.C.
SH51515. Silver denarius, Crawford 511/3a, RSC I Pompey the Great 17, Sydenham 1344, BMCRR Sicily 7, Sear CRI 334, SRCV I 1392, VF, toned, excellent portrait, reverse well centered, banker's marks, some light scratches, obverse a little off center, weight 3.779 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 45o, Sicilian mint, 42 - 40 B.C.; obverse MAG PIVS IMP ITER, head of Pompey the Great right, between capis and lituus (augural symbols); reverse Neptune standing left, right foot on prow, nude but for chlamys on left arm, holding apluster, flanked by the Catanaean brothers, Anapias and Amphinomus, running in opposite directions with their parents on their shoulders, PRAEF above, CLAS ET ORAE / MARIT EX S C in two lines in exergue; scarce; SOLD


Roman Republic, Sextus Pompey, Imperator and Prefect of the Fleet, Executed 35 B.C.

|Pompeians|, |Roman| |Republic,| |Sextus| |Pompey,| |Imperator| |and| |Prefect| |of| |the| |Fleet,| |Executed| |35| |B.C.||denarius|
In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily, opposite her counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other - so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass dangerously close to Scylla and vice versa. Scylla made her first appearance in Homer's Odyssey, where Odysseus and his crew encounter her and Charybdis on their travels. Later myth gave her an origin story as a beautiful nymph who gets turned into a monster. The idiom "between Scylla and Charybdis" has come to mean being forced to choose between two similarly dangerous situations.
SH87414. Silver denarius, RSC I Pompeia 3a (same ligatures), Crawford 511/4d, Sydenham 1348, BMCRR Sicily 20, Sear CRI 335b, SRCV I 1393, gVF, beautifully toned, edge cracks, legends not fully struck, weight 3.566 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 225o, uncertain Sicilian mint, 40 - 39 B.C.; obverse MAGPIVSIMPITER, pharos (lighthouse) of Messana, topped with stature of Neptune standing right holding trident and rudder, his left foot on a galley ram; quinquereme (war galley) sailing left in foreground below adorned with aquila on prow and scepter at the stern; reverse PRAEF ORAEMARITETCLAS SC (AEs and MAR ligate), the sea monster Skylla, her upper body a nude human female torso, lower body of two fish tails and three dog foreparts, attacking to left with a rudder wielded as a club in both hands raised overhead; ex Nomos Obolos 10, lot 349; rare; SOLD


Roman Republic, Sextus Pompey, Imperator and Prefect of the Fleet, Executed 35 B.C., Portrait of Pompey the Great

|Pompeians|, |Roman| |Republic,| |Sextus| |Pompey,| |Imperator| |and| |Prefect| |of| |the| |Fleet,| |Executed| |35| |B.C.,| |Portrait| |of| |Pompey| |the| |Great||denarius|
The inscription PRAEF CLAS ET ORAE MARIT abbreviates Praefectus Classis et Orae Maritimae, which translates Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet and the Sea Coasts. This title was held by both Pompey the Great and his son Sextus Pompey. Although Sextus Pompey was the supreme naval commander, Octavian had the Senate declare him a public enemy. He turned to piracy and came close to defeating Octavian. He was defeated by Marcus Agrippa at the naval battle of Naulochus (3 September 36 B.C.) and was executed by order of Mark Antony in 35 B.C.
SH91677. Silver denarius, Crawford 511/3a, RSC I Pompey the Great 17, Sydenham 1344, BMCRR Sicily 7, Sear CRI 334, SRCV I 1392, VF, deep old-cabinet toning, slightly off center, banker's mark on cheek, weight 3.703 g, maximum diameter 17.7 mm, die axis 180o, Sicilian mint, 42 - 40 B.C.; obverse MAG PIVS IMP ITER, head of Pompey the Great right, between capis and lituus (augural symbols); reverse Neptune standing left, right foot on prow, nude but for chlamys on left arm, holding apluster, flanked by the Catanaean brothers, Anapias and Amphinomus, running in opposite directions with their parents on their shoulders, PRAEF above, CLAS ET ORAE / MARIT EX S C in two lines in exergue; from the Maxwell Hunt Collection; scarce; SOLD







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REFERENCES

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Evans, J. "The Sicilian Coinage of Sextus Pompeius (Crawford 511)" in ANSMN 32 (1987).
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Sydenham, E. The Coinage of the Roman Republic. (London, 1952).

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