Plutarch describes her as a beautiful woman, with a nice character, well read and a skilled player of the lyre. She was also very well educated, fond of geometry and philosophy.
Cornelia was first married to Publius Licinius Crassus, son of Marcus Licinius Crassus. After her husband's death in the Parthian campaign of his father, Cornelia became the fifth wife of Pompey in 52 BC. She was a faithful follower of Pompey and met him in Mytilene with his son Sextus Pompeius, after the battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC. Together, they fled to Egypt where Pompey was murdered. On his arrival, Caesar punished the traitors that had Pompey murdered and gave Cornelia his ashes and signet ring. She returned to Rome and spent the rest of her life in Pompey's estates in Italy.