24. Cn. Pompeius
Magnus, the eldest son of the triumvir [No. 22] by his third wife Mucia, was born between the years B. C. 80 and 75.
He accompanied his father in the expedition against the pirates B. C. 67, but he must then have been too young to have taken any part in the war. On the breaking out of the civil war in B. C. 49, he was sent to Alexandria to obtain ships and troops for his father; and after procuring an Egyptian fleet of fifty ships he joined the squadron that was cruising in the Adriatic Sea in B. C. 48. Here he succeeded in taking several of Caesar's vessels off Oricum, and he made an unsuccessful attack upon the town of Lissus.
After the defeat of his father at Pharsalia, he was deserted by the Egyptian fleet which he commanded, and he then repaired to the island of Corcyra, where many of the Roman nobles, who had survived the battle, had taken refuge. Here he maintained that, possessing as they did the command of the sea, they ought not to despair of success; and he was very nearly killing Cicero, when the latter recommended submission to the conqueror. On his way to Africa, which his party had resolved to make the scene of the war, he learnt from his brother Sextus the death of his father.
He did not, however, remain long in Africa, but in the course of B. C. 47 set sail for Spain, in order to secure that country for his party, and by means of his father's friends and dependents, to raise troops which might assist the aristocracy in Africa. But Cneius was some time in reaching Spain; after making an unsuccessful attack upon the town of Ascurum in Mauritania, he took possession of some of the islands off the Spanish coast, and appears not to have landed on the mainland till B. C. 46.
He had not been here long before he was joined by his brother Sextus and others of his party, who had fled from Africa after their defeat at Thapsus.
In a short time he was at the head of thirteen legions. Caesar sent his legate C. Didius against him, and towards the end of the year followed himself.
The war was brought to a close by the battle of Munda, fought on the 17th of March, B. C. 45, in which Caesar entirely defeated the Pompeians.
It was, however, the most bloody battle during the whole of the civil war : the Pompeians fought with the courage of despair; they drove back at first Caesar's troops, and it was only by Caesar's throwing himself into the front line of the battle, and exposing his person like a common soldier, that they were led back again to the charge. Cneius himself escaped with a severe wound, and fled to Carteia on the sea-coast. Here he embarked, and set sail with a squadron of twenty ships; but having been obliged to put to land again in consequence of neglecting to provide himself with water, he was surprised by Didius, who had sailed from Gades with a fleet, his ships were destroyed, and he himself obliged to take refuge in the interior of the country.
But he could not remain concealed; the troops sent in pursuit of him overtook him near Lauron, and put him to death. His head was cut off, and carried to Caesar, who had it exposed to public view in the town of Hispalis, that there might be no doubt of his death. Cneius seems to have been by nature vehement and passionate; and the misfortunes of his family rendered him cruel and suspicious.
He burned to take vengeance on his enemies, and Rome had nothing to expect from him, if he had conquered, but a terrible and bloody proscription. (Caes. Civ. 3.5
; D. C. 42.12
; Appian, App. BC 2.87
; Cic. ad Fam
. 6.18, 15.19 ; Hirt, B. Afr.
22, 23; Auctor, B. Hisp.
The annexed coin was probably struck by Cn. Ponpey, when he was in Spain.
It contains on the obverse the head of his father with CN. MAGN. IMP., and on the reverse a commander stepping out of a ship, and shaking hands with a woman, probably intended to represent Spain, with the legend M. MINAT. SABIN. PR. Q. Some writers suppose that this coin was struck by the triumvir himself, but there is no reason to suppose that he ever had his own portrait struck upon his coins. (Eckhel, vol. v. p. 282.)