Roman Republic

Q. Pompeius Rufus, Moneyer 54 BC

Crawford 434/1; Sydenham 908; Pompeia 4, Extremely Fine

Rome. Q · POM · RVFI before, RVFVS · COS behind, bare head of the consul Q. Pompeius Rufus right. Reverse: SVLLA · COS, bare head of Sulla right.

L. Cornelius Sulla and Q. Pompeius Rufus were elected consuls of the Roman Republic in 88 BC. Sulla was given the prestigious command against Mithridates VI of Pontus in the First Mithridatic War (89-85 BC), but this was opposed by C. Marius, a hero of the ongoing Social War (91-88 BC) who desired it for himself. By manipulating the voting assembly, Marius attempted to enact a law to strip Sulla of his command, but the consuls resisted by declaring a iustitium—a period during which no laws could be passed. Rioting ensued and both men fled the city. Together Sulla and Rufus marched on Rome at the head of an army and strongly insisted that they be returned to power. Sulla was granted the coveted commander of the Mithridatic War and Rufus was given command of the Social War, which still dragged on. Sulla went on to win glory as the conqueror of Mithridates, but Rufus met an ignominious end, murdered by the proconsul Cn. Pompeius Strabo who was not interested in giving up his command.