How did Pompey get the name Adulescentulus Carnifex?
How did Pompey get the name ‘Adulescentulus Carnifex’ or ‘teenage butcher’? One thing is for certain, it wasn’t from his friends and supporters.
Pompey acquired the name as a result of his campaigns in Sicily, where he had been sent by Sulla. The target of Pompey’s forces (which numbered six legions, One hundred twenty warships and eight hundred transports) was defeated loyalists to the Marian cause who had fled to the island and to North Africa.
Whilst Pompey was in Sicily in 81 BC, he captured the leader of the Marian cause, Gnaeus Papirius Carbo. Pompey “treated Carbo in his misfortunes with an unnatural insolence” and placed him in fetters to a trial where he examined him “to the distress and vexation of the audience before sentencing him to death.
The victory of Pompey in Africa was to result in a triumph (albeit that Pompey could not legally qualify for the honour as he was not a consul or a praetor) and the domination of Rome by Sulla.
Sulla went on to embark on the bloody proscriptions and Pompey was to have an astonishing career as a general and a political figure until his ultimate downfall after his defeat at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC.
Sampson, Gareth C. (2013) ‘The Collapse of Rome: Marius, Sulla and the First Civil War‘