3. Q. Pompeius
, A. F., the son of the preceding [No. 2], was of humble origin; but we know nothing of his early career, nor of the means by which he first came into public notice.
Since, however, Cicero speaks of him (Brut.
25) as no mean orator, distinction in oratory may have paved the way for him as it did for so many other Romans to the higher offices of the state.
He was consul B. C. 141 with Cn. Servilius Caepio, and gained his election in opposition to Laelius by assuring Scipio that he did not intend to become a candidate for the office, and then entering upon a vigorous canvass after he had thus thrown the friends of Laelius off their guard. Scipio had previously been on friendly terms with Pompeius, but now renounced all further connection with him. (Plut. l.c.;
21.) Pompeius in his consulship was sent into Nearer Spain as the successor of Q. Metellus (V. Max. 9.3.7
), and not of Fabius Maximus Servilianus, who commanded in Further Spain (Appian, App. Hisp. 68
). Pompeius was unsuccessful in Spain: he experienced several defeats from the enemy, and in vain laid siege to Numantia. His troops, which he kept encamped before the walls of this town during the winter, perished in great numbers through the cold and disease; and, accordingly, fearing that the aristocracy would call him to account on his return to Rome, he proposed to the Numantines terms of peace.
He required from them publicly an unconditional surrender; but in private only demanded from them hostages, the captives and deserters, and also thirty talents. The Numantines, who were weary of the war, gladly purchased peace on these conditions, and immediately paid part of the money; but on the arrival of M. Popillius Laenas in Spain shortly afterwards (B. C. 139), as the successor of Pompeius, the latter, who was now released from the responsibility of the war. had the effrontery to disown the treaty, although it had been witnessed by the officers of his own army. Laenas referred the matter to the senate, to which the Numantine legates accordingly repaired. Pompeius persisted in the same lie; the senate declared the treaty invalid; and the war was accordingly renewed. Pompeius escaped all punishment for this conduct in relation to the treaty : he was, however, accused shortly afterwards of extortion in his province, but was fortunate enough to obtain an acquittal, although some of the most eminent men at Rome, such as Q. Metellus Macedonicus and L. Metellus Calvus, bore witness against him. (V. Max. 8.5.1
; Cic. Font. 7
.) His want of success in Spain did not lose him the favour of the people, for he was elected censor in B. C. 131 with Q. Metellus Macedonicus, the first time that both censors were chosen from the plebs. (Appian, App. Hisp. 76
; Liv. Epit. 54
; Oros. 5.4
; Cic. de Off.
3.30, de Fir.