Fall of the Roman Republic 78-31 BC

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Significance of the consulship of Pompey and Crassus in 70 BC

Past HSC question: 2003
Assess the significance of the career of EITHER Pompey OR Crassus.
(note that the consulship of 70 BC was only one part of the careers of each of Pompey and Crassus.)

From booklet 1:
p.6 "The joint consulship of Pompey and Crassus, 70"

  • the political relationship between the two men, especially as a precursor to their working together later for their own individual gain
  • the legality of Pompey being able to stand for the consulship
  • the legislation passed during 70 BC and its impact in overturning the Sullan constitution and eroding the power of the optimates
  • the impact on Pompey's future career of the restoration of the power of the tribunes
Modern Sources

“Pompey and Crassus, who had both been lieutenants of Sulla, now proceeded to sweep away much that remained of his constitution...Thus within ten years of his retirement the essential parts of Sulla’s reforms had been swept away.”
H.H. Scullard, From the Gracchi to Nero, pp. 97-8

“Then, coming back to Rome after six years of absence, when he had terminated the war in Spain against Sertorius, Pompeius combined with another army commander, Crassus, and carried out a peaceful coup d’état. Elected consuls, Pompeius and Crassus abolished the Sullan constitution (70 BC). The knights received a share in the jury courts, the tribunes recovered the powers of which Sulla had stripped them. They soon repaid Pompeius. Through a tribune’s law, the People conferred upon their champion a vast command against the Pirates, with pro-consular authority over the coasts of the Mediterranean (the lex Gabinia). No province in the Empire was immune from his control. Four years before, Pompeius had not even been a senator. The decay of the Republic, the impulsion towards the rule of one imperator, were patent and impressive.”
Ronald Syme, The Roman Revolution, p.29