Sextus Pompeius Magnus Pius, son of Pompey the Great, fits uneasily - or not at all - into the grand narrative of the civil war of 49-31BC. Modern scholars tend to exclude him or mention him without asking what or whom he represented. Ronald Syme, the father of international orthodoxy in this field, famously remarked that Sextus was 'in reality an adventurer' who was 'easily represented as a pirate'. He was wrong. Sextus Pompeius plays havoc with key elements of the accepted narrative. His military success destroys the myth of continuous Caesarian victory. His commitment to rescuing the victims of Triumviral violence belies claims that only the Caesarian side represented clementia and justice. The naval strategy by which he conducted the war demonstrates his commitment to the same cause and ethics as his father and his father's allies. Welch argues that, far from being a 'side-show' or a 'bit player', Sextus Pompeius was integral to the fight for the res publica. She solves the 'problem' by placing him at the centre of the story of Rome's transition from Republic to Empire and so reveals a very different landscape that emerges as a result.
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