Since his youth,
Pompey had proved himself a successful military leader. He had fought against the Marians in Africa and received a triumph for his actions. He successfully put down
Sertorius and his rebellion in Hispania - for which he received another triumph - and also successfully helped to put an end to the Third Servile War. Because of these military victories, Pompey was wildly popular with the people of Rome. In 70 BCE, though he was only 35 years old and not even a senator, he was elected consul.
Two years after his consulship, he was offered a command over the entire Mediterranean Sea so that he could eradicate the presence of the pirates. These pirates were plundering the coastal cities of Greece, Asia, and Italy itself, and they were also threatening Rome’s grain supply. In 67 BCE, the Tribune of the Plebs, Aulus Gabinius, put forth the Lex Gabinia. This law dictated that Pompey would control the sea and the coast for fifty miles inward. Appian reports that he was also given 270 warships, 120,000 infantry, and 4,000 cavalry. Such an appointment would give him power unmatched by any other leader, and the conservative faction of the Senate remained wary. His term was set at three years. Pompey, however, finished the task in forty days.
His victory led Pompey to be considered a hero once more in Rome as he had secured the grain supply. He was hailed as primus inter pares, “first among equals.” Moreover, his success put him in the position to be given the command against
Mithridates in the Third Mithridatic War.