A triumvirate is a political office in which power is shared by three individuals. In Ancient Rome, the triumvirātus signified rule by a 3-men coalition, whether formally recognised or not.
What follows are 10 interesting facts about the Roman Triumvirate.
1. There were in fact two Roman Triumvirates
The first was an informal arrangement between Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey). The Second Triumvirate was legally recognised and consisted of Octavian (later Augustus), Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, and Mark Antony.
2. The First Triumvirate started in 60 BC
Caesar reconciled the feuding Crassus and Pompey. It ended with Crassus’ death in 53 BC.
3. Crassus was legendarily wealthy
He acquired at least some of his wealth by buying burning buildings at knock-down prices. Once bought, he would employ the 500 slaves he had bought especially for their architectural skills to save the buildings.
4. Pompey was a successful soldier and enormously popular
The third triumph to celebrate his victories was the then largest in Roman history – two days of feasting and games – and was said to signal Rome’s domination of the known world.
5. The agreement was at first a secret
It was revealed when Pompey and Crassus stood alongside Caesar as he spoke in favour of agrarian land reform that the senate had blocked.
6. In 56 BC the three met to renew their by then fragile alliance
At the Lucca Conference they divided much of the Empire into personal territories.
7. Crassus died after the disastrous Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC
He had gone to war against the Parthian Empire with no official backing, seeking military glory to match his wealth, and his force was crushed by a much smaller enemy. Crassus was killed during truce negotiations.
8. Pompey and Caesar were soon vying for power
The Great Roman Civil War between them and their supporters broke out in 49 BC and continued for four years.
9. Pompey could have won the war at the Battle of Dyrrhachium in 48 BC
He refused to believe that he had beaten Caesar’s legions and insisted that their retreat was to lure him into a trap. He held off and Caesar was victorious in their next engagement.
10. Pompey was murdered in Egypt by Egyptian court officials
When his head and seal were presented to Caesar, the last standing member of the triumvirate is said to have wept. He had the conspirators executed.