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Young Folks' History of Rome

26. The Career Of Pompeius, 70-63
Cnæus Pompeius Magnus and Lucius Licinius Crassus Dives were consuls together in the
year 70; but Crassus, though he feasted the people at 10,000 tables, was envied and
disliked, and would never have been elected but for Pompeius, who was a great favorite
with the people, and so much trusted, both by them and the nobles, that it seems to have
filled him with pride, for he gave himself great airs, and did not treat his fellow-consul as
an equal.
When his term of office was over, the most pressing thing to be done was to put down the
Cilician pirates. In the angle formed between Asia Minor and Syria, with plenty of
harbors formed by the spurs of Mount Taurus, there had dwelt for ages past a horde of
sea robbers, whose swift galleys darted on the merchant ships of Tyre and Alexandria;
and now, after the ruin of the Syrian kingdom, they had grown so rich that their state
galleys had silken sails, oars inlaid with ivory and silver, and bronze prows. They robbed
the old Greek temples and the Eastern shrines, and even made descents on the Italian
cities, besides stopping the ships which brought wheat from Sicily and Alexandria to feed
the Romans.
To enable Pompeius to crush them, authority was given him for three years over all the
Mediterranean and fifty miles inland all round, which was nearly the same thing as the
whole empire. He divided the sea into thirteen commands, and sent a party to fight the
pirates in each; and this was done so effectually, that in forty days they were all hunted
out of the west end of the gulf, whither he pursued them with his whole force, beat them
in a sea-fight, and then besieged them; but, as he was known to be a just and merciful
man, they came to terms with him, and he scattered them about in small colonies in
distant cities, so that they might cease to be mischievous.
In the meantime, the war with Mithridates had broken out again, and Lucius Lucullus,
who had been consul after Pompeius, was fighting with him in the East; but Lucullus did
not please the Romans, though he met with good success, and had pushed Mithridates so
hard that there was nothing left for Pompeius but to complete the conquest, and he drove
the old king beyond Caucasus, and then marched into Syria, where he overthrew the last
of the Seleucian kings, Antiochus, and gave him the little kingdom of Commagene to
spend the remainder of his life in, while Syria and Phoenicia were made into a great
Roman province.
Under the Maccabees, Palestine had struggled into being independent of Syria, but only
by the help of the Romans, who, as usual, tried to ally themselves with small states in
order to make an excuse for making war on large ones. There was now a great quarrel
between two brothers of the Maccabean family, and one of them, Hyrcanus, came to ask
the aid of Pompeius. The Roman army marched into the Holy Land, and, after seizing the
whole country, was three months besieging Jerusalem, which, after all, it only took by an
attack when the Jews were resting on the Sabbath day. Pompeius insisted on forcing his
way into the Holy of Holies, and was very much disappointed to find it empty and dark.
He did not plunder the treasury of the Temple, but the Jews remarked that, from the time
of this daring entrance, his prosperity seemed to fail him. Before he left the East,
however, old Mithridates, who had taken refuge in the Crimea, had been attacked by his
own favorite son, and, finding that his power was gone, had taken poison; but, as his