Theo'phanes, Cn. Pompeius
of Mytilene in Lesbos, a learned Greek, was one of the most intimate friends of Pompey, whom he accompanied in many of his campaigns, and who frequently followed his advice on public as well as private matters. (Caes. Civ. 3.18
; Strab. xiii. p.617
He was not a freedman of Pompey, as some modern writers have supposed (Burmann, ad Vell. Pat.
2.18); but the Roman general appears to have made his acquaintance during the Mithridatic war, and soon became so much attached to him that he presented to the Greek the Roman franchise in the presence of his army, after a speech in which he eulogised his merits. (Cic. pro Arch. 10 ; V. Max. 8.14.3
This occurred in all probability about B. C. 62, and Theophanes must now have taken the name of Pompeius after his patron. Such was his influence with Pompey, that, in the course of the same year, he obtained for his native city the privileges of a free state, although it had espoused the cause of Mithridates, and had given up the Roman general M'. Aquillius to the king of Pontus. (Plut. Pomp. 12.
) Theophanes came to Rome with Pompey after the conclusion of his wars in the East.
There he adopted, before he had any son, L. Corneiius Balbus, of Gades, a favourite of his patron. (Cic. pro Balb. 25 ;
Capitol. Balbin. 2.
) He continued to live with Pompey on the most intimate terms, and we see from Cicero's letters, that his society was courted by many of the Roman nobles, on account of his well-known influence with Pompey. (Cic. Att. 2.5
. 5.11.) On the breaking out of the civil war he accompanied Pompey to Greece, who appointed him commander of the Fabri, and chietly consulted him and Lucceius on all important matters in the war. much to the indignation of the Roman nobles. (Plut. Cic. 38 ; Caes. Civ. 3.18
; Cic. Att. 9.3
After the battle of Pharsalia Theophanes fled with Pompey from Greece. and it was owing to his advice that Pompey went to Egypt. (Plut. Pomp. 76, 78.
) After the death of his friend and patron, Theophanes took refuge in Italy.
He was pardoned by Caesar, and was still alive in B. C. 44, as we see from one of Cicero's letters (ad Att.
After his death the Lesbians paid divine honours to his memory. (Tac. Ann. 6.18
.) Theophanes wrote the history of Pompey's campaigns, in which he represented the exploits of his hero in the most favourable light, and did not hesitate, as Plutarch more than hints, to invent a false tale for the purpose of injuring the reputation of an enemy of the Pompeian family. (Plut. Pomp. 37,
et alibi Strab. xi. p.503
, xiii. p. 617 Cic. pro Arch l.c. ;
Val. Max. l.c. ;
Theophanes left behind him a son, M. POMPEIUS THEOPHANES, who was sent to Asia by Augustus, in the capacity of procurator, and was at the time that Strabo wrote one of the friends of Tiberius.
The latter emperor, however, put his descendants to death towards the end of his reign, A. D. 33, because their ancestor had been one of Pompey's friends, and had received after his death divine honours from the Lesbians. (Strab. xiii. p.617
; Tac. Ann. 6.18
; comp. Drumann, Geschichte Roms,
vol. iv. pp. 551-553; Vossius, de Hist. Graec.
pp. 190, 191, ed. Westermann.)