Lucullus, L. Licinius
A Roman celebrated as the conqueror of Mithridates. He fought on the side of Sulla in the
Civil Wars with the Marian party, was praetor B.C. 77, and consul in 74. In the latter year he
received the conduct of the war against Mithridates, which he carried on for eight years with
great success (see Mithridates
), but being
unable to bring the war to a conclusion in consequence of the mutinous disposition of his
troops, he was superseded in the command by Acilius Glabrio, B.C. 67. Glabrio, however, never
took the command; but in the following year (B.C. 66) Lucullus had to resign the
command to Pompey, who had been appointed by the Manilian law to supersede both him and
Glabrio. On his return to Rome, Lucullus devoted himself to a life of indolence and luxury,
and lived in a style of extraordinary magnificence. He died in B.C. 57 or 56. He was the first
to introduce cherries into Italy, which he had brought with him from Cerasus in Pontus.
The name of Lucullus became and has continued proverbial for extravagant and studied luxury.
His gardens in the suburbs of the city were extraordinary for their splendour; his villas at
Tusculum and Naples were laid out with such lavish disregard of expense in constructing
), cutting through hills and rocks, and throwing out
moles into the sea, that Pompey called him, in derision, “the Roman
Xerxes.” His domestic service was on a scale of equal magnificence. A single
dinner cost him $10,000.
Lucullus was not, however, a mere sensualist. He collected a fine library, which was open to
the public; he enjoyed the conversation of philosophers and scholars, and himself wrote a work
on the history of the Marsic War, composed in Greek. He was also the patron of the poet
Archias, the friend of Cicero. His life was written by Plutarch, and in it may be found many
curious anecdotes of this very remarkable and interesting man.