previous next


4. L. Licinius Lucullus, L. F. L. N., celebrated as the conqueror of Mithridates, and by much the most illustrious of his family. He was the son of the preceding and of Caecilia, the daughter of L. Metellus Calvus. (Plut. Luc. 1.) [CAECILIA, No. 3.] We have no express mention of the period of his birth or of his age, but Plutarch tells us that he was older than Pompey (Lucull. 36, Pomp. 31); he must therefore have been born before B. C. 106, probably at least as early as 109 or 110, since his younger brother Marcus was old enough to be curule aedile in 79. [See No. 6.] His first appearance in public life was as the accuser of the augur Servilius, who had procured the banishment of his father. but had in his turn laid himself open to a criminal charge. This species of retaliation was looked upon with much favour at Rome; and although the trial, after giving rise to scenes of violence and even bloodshed, at length terminated in the acquittal of Servilius, the part which the young Lucullus had taken in the matter appears to have added greatly to his credit and reputation. (Plut. Luc. 1; Cic. Acad. pr. 2.1.)

While yet quite a young man, he served with distinction in the Marsic or Social War; and at this time attracted the attention of Sulla, whom he afterwards accompanied as his quaestor into Greece and Asia on the breaking out of the Mithridatic war, B. C. 88. During the prolonged siege of Athens, Sulla found himself labouring under the greatest disadvantage from the want of a fleet, and of he in consequence despatched Lucullus in the middle of winter (B. C. 87-86), with a squadron of only six ships, to endeavour to collect assistance from the allies of Rome. With considerable difficulty he raised a fleet, and expelled the forces of the king from Chios and Colophon. These operations extended far on into the summer of 85 : meanwhile, Fimbria, who had assumed the command of the army in Asia, which had been sent out by the Marian party at Rome, had expelled Mithridates from Pergamus, and was besieging him in Pitane, where he had taken refuge. Had Lucullus co-operated with him by sea, the king himself must havefallen intotheir hands, and the war would have been terminated at once: but Lucullus was faithful to the party interests of Sulla rather than to those of Rome : he refused to come with his fleet to the support of Fimbria, and Mithridates made his escape by sea to Mytilene. Shortly afterwards Lucullus defeated the hostile fleet under Neoptolemus off the island of Tenedos; and thus made himself master of the Hellespont, where he rejoined Sulla, and facilitated his passage into Asia the following spring, B. C. 84. (Plut. Luc. 2-4 4, Sull. 11; Appian, App. Mith. 33, 51, 52, 56, Oros. 6.2.)

Peace with Mithridates followed shortly after, and Sulla hastened to return to Rome. It was a fortunate circumstance for Lucullus that he did not accompany his leader at this time, being left behind in the charge of various public duties in Asia, by which means he escaped all participation in the of scenes of horror that ensued, at the same time that he retained the high place he already enjoyed in the favour of the all-powerful Sulla. Nor do we find that he took any part in the aggressions of Murena, and the renewed war against Mithridates. [MURENA.] During the whole time that he continted in Asia he appears to have been occupied with civil and pacific employments, especially with the coining of money, and the exaction of the heavy sums imposed by Sulla upon the Asiatic cities as a penalty for their late revolt. In the discharge of this last duty he displayed the utmost kindness and liberality, and endeavoured to render the burthen as little onerous as possible; at the same time that the promptitude and vigour with which he punished the revolt of the Mytilenaeans showed that he was fully prepared to put down all open resistance. (Plut. Luc. 4; Cic. Acad. pr. 2.1.)

Lucullus remained in Asia apparently till near the close of the year 80, when he returned to Rome to discharge the office for the following year of curule aedile, to which he had been elected in his absence, together with his younger brother Marcus. According to Plutarch, he had, from affection for his brother, forborne to sue for this office until Marcus was of sufficient age to hold it with him. The games exhibited by the two brothers were distinguished for their magnificence, and were rendered remarkable by the introduction, for the first time, of elephants combating with bulls. (Plut. Luc. 1; Cic. Acad. pr. 2.1; de Off: 2.16 ; Plin. Nat. 8.7.) So great was the favour at this time enjoyed by Lucullus with Sulla, that the dictator, on his death-bed, not only confided to him the charge of revising and correcting his Commentaries -- a tak for which the literary attainments of Lucullus especially qualified him; but appointed him guardian of his son Faustus, to the exclusion Pompey, a circumstance which is said to have first given rise to the enmity and jealousy that ever after subsisted between the two. (Plut. Luc. 1.4.) By a special law of Sulla, he was enabled to hold the praetorship immediately after the office of aedile, probably in the year 77. At the expiration of this magistracy he repaired to Africa, where he distinguished himself by the justice of his administration, and returned from thence to Rome, to sue for the consulship, which he obtained, in conjunction with M. Aurelius Cotta, for the year 74. (Cic. Acad. pr. 2.1; Aur. Vict. de Vir. Illust. 74; Plut. Luc. 5; Fast. Capit. an. 679.)

Of the political conduct of Lucullus during his consulship almost the only circumstance recorded to us is the determined and effectual opposition offered by him to the attempts of L. Quinctius to overthrow the constitutional laws of Sulla. (Plut. Luc. 5; Sall. Hist. iii. fragm. 22, p. 234, ed. Gerlach.)

But the eyes of all at Rome were now turned towards the East, where it was evident that a renewal of the contest with Mithridates was become inevitable : and the command in this impending war was the darling object of the ambition of Lucullus. At first indeed fortune did not seem to befriend him : in the division of the provinces, Bithynia (which had been lately united to the Roman dominions after the death of Nicomedes III., and which was evidently destined to be the first point assailed by Mithridates), fell to the lot Cotta, while Lucullus obtained only Cisalpine Gaul for his province. But just at this juncture Octavius, the proconsul of Cilicia, died; and Lucullus, by dint of intrigues, succeeded in obtaining the appointment as his successor, to which the conduct of the war against Mithridates was then added by general consent. Cotta, however, still retained the government of Bithynia, and the command of the naval force. (Plut. Luc. 5, 6 ; Memnon. 100.37, ed. Orell.; Cic. pro Muren. 15; Eutrop. 6.6.)

Both consuls now hastened to Asia, where they arrived before the close of the year 74. Lucullus took with him only one legion from Italy; but he found four others in Asia, two of which, however, had formed part of the army of Finmbria; and though brave and hardy veterans, had been accustomed to licence and rapine, and were ever prone to sedition. Hence the first business of the new general was to restore the discipline of his own army, a task which he appears to have for a time easily accomplished; and he now took the field with a force of 30,000 infantry, and 2500 horse. (Plut. Luc. 7, 8; Appian, App. Mith. 72.) But almost before he was ready to commence operations, he received the news that Mithridates had invaded Bithynia with an army of 150,000 men, had defeated Cotta both by sea and land, and compelled him to take refuge within the walls of Chalcedon. Lucullus was at this time in Galatia, but he hastened to the support of Cotta. He was met at a place called Otryae, in Phrygia, by a detachment of the army of Mithridates, commanded by the Roman exile Varius, but a meteoric apparition prevented an engagement. Meanwhile, Mithridates drew off his army from Chalcedon, and proceeded to besiege the strong city of Cyzicus. Hither Lucullus followed him; but confident in the strength of the place, and well knowing the difficulty of subsisting so vast a multitude as that which composed the army of the king, he was by no means desirous to bring on a battle, and contented himself with taking up a strongly entrenched camp in the immediate neighbourhood of that of Mithridates, from whence he could watch his proceedings, intercept his communications, and leave hunger to do the work of the sword. The result fully justified his expectations. All the efforts of Mithridates were baffled by the skill and courage of the besieged; and though he was still master of the sea, the winter storms prevented him from receiving supplies by that means, so that famine soon began to make itself felt in his camp, and at length increased to such a degree that no alternative remained but to raise the siege. A detachment of 15,000 men, which the king had previously sent off, was attacked and cut to pieces by Lucullus at the passage of the Rhyndacus; and when at length his main army broke up from the camp before Cyzicus, and commenced its march towards the West, Lucullus pressed closely upon their rear, and attacking them successively at the passage of the Aesepus and the Granicus, put thousands of them to the sword. Those that escaped took refuge in Lampsacus, under the command of Varius. (Plut. Luc. 8-11; Appian, App. Mith. 71-76; Memnon. 37-40; Liv. Epit. xcv.; Flor. 3.6; Eutrop. 6.6; Oros. 6.2; Cic. pro. Leg. Manil. 8, pro Muren. 15; Orelli, Inscr. 545.)

The great army of Mithridates, on the equipment and preparation of which he had bestowed all his care, was now annihilated; but he was still master of the sea; and placing the remains of his shattered forces on board the fleet, he gave the command of it to Varius, with orders to maintain possession of the Aegaean, while he himself returned by sea to Bithynia. Lucullus did not deem it prudent to advance further into Asia while his communications were thus threatened, and he despatched his lieutenants, Voconius and Triarius, in pursuit of Mithridates, while he occupied himself in assembling a fleet at the Hellespont. Contributions quickly poured in from all the Greek cities of Asia; and Lucullus soon found himself at the head of a considerable naval force, with which he defeated a squadron of the enemy off Ilium, and soon afterwards engaged and almost entirely destroyed their main fleet, near the island of Lemnos, taking prisoner Varius himself, together with his two colleagues in the command. (Appian, App. Mith. 77; Plut. Luc. 12; Cic. pro Leg. Manil. 8, pro Muren. 15; Eutrop. 6.6; Memnon. 42.) He was now at liberty to direct his undivided attention towards Mithridates himself, and advanced against that monarch, who had halted at Nicomedeia, where Cotta and Triarius were preparing to besiege him; but on learning the defeat of his fleet, and the advance of Lucullus, Mithridates withdrew from that city without a contest, and escaped by sea to Pontus.

Lucullus had thus succeeded in driving back Mithridates into his own dominions, and thither he now prepared to follow him. After joining Cotta and Triarius at Nicomedeia, he detached the former to besiege the important town of Heracleia, while Triarius, with the fleet, was posted at the Bosporus, in order to prevent the junction of the enemy's detached squadrons. Meanwhile, Lucullus himself, with his main army, advanced through Galatia into the heart of Pontus, laying waste the country on his march; and in this manner penetrated, without any serious opposition, as far as Themiscyra. But he now began to be apprehensive lest Mithridates should avoid a battle, and elude his pursuit by withdrawing into the wild and mountainous regions beyond Pontus; and he therefore, instead of pushing on at once upon Cabeira, where the king was now stationed, determined to halt and form the siege of the two important towns of Amisus and Eupatoria. His object in so doing was in great part to draw Mithridates to their relief, and thus bring on a general engagement; but the king contented hinself with sending supplies and reinforcements to the two cities, and remained quiet at Cabeira, where he had established his winter-quarters, and had assembled a force of 40,000 foot and 4000 horse. Lucullus at first pressed the siege of Amisus with the utmost vigour; but it was defended with equal energy and ability by Callimachus, the commander of the garrison; and after a time the efforts of both parties gradually relaxed, and the siege was protracted throughout the whole winter without any decisive result. With the approach of spring (B. C. 72) Lucullus broke up his camp; and leaving Murena with two legions to continue the siege of Amisus, led the rest of his forces against Mithridates, who was still at Cabeira. But the king was superior in cavalry, and Lucullus was therefore unwilling to risk a general action in the plain. Several partial engagements ensued, in which the Romans were more than once worsted; and Lucullus began to find himself in distress for provisions, which he was compelled to bring from Cappadocia. A series of movements and manoeuvres now followed, which are not very clearly related; but at length a numerous detachment from the army of the king, under his generals Menemachus and Myron, was entirely cut off by one of the lieutenants of Lucullus. In consequence of this blow Mithridates determined to remove to a greater distance from the enemy; but when the orders to retreat were given, a general panic spread through the army, which took to flight in all directions. The king himself narrowly escaped being trampled to death in the confusion, and was closely pursued by the Roman cavalry; but effected his escape to Comana, from whence he fled directly to Armenia, accompanied only by a small body of horsemen, and took refuge in the dominions of Tigranes. Lucullus, after making himself master of Cabeira, pursued the fugitive monarch as far as Talaura; but finding that he had made good his retreat into Armenia, halted at that city, and despatched App. Claudius as ambassador to Tigranes, to demand the surrender of Mithridates. Meanwhile, he himself subdued, or at least received the submission of the province of Lesser Armenia, which had been subject to Mithridates, as well as the tribes of the Chaldaeans and Tibarenians ; after which he returned to complete the subjugation of Pontus. Here the cities of Amisus and Eupatoria still held out, but they were both in succession reduced by the renewed efforts of Lucullus. He had been especially desirous to save from destruction the wealthy and important city of Amisus, but it was set on fire by Callimachus himself previous to evacuating the place; and though Lucullus did his utmost to extinguish the flames, his soldiers were too intent upon plunder to second his exertions, and the greater part of the town was consumed. He, however, endeavoured to repatr the damage as far as possible, by granting freedom to the city, and inviting new settlers by extensive privileges. Heracleia, which was still besieged by Cotta, did not fall apparently till the following year, B. C. 71; and the capture of Sinope by Luculllus himself, shortly afterwards, completed the conquest of the whole kingdom of Pontus. About the same time also Machares, the son of Mithridates, who had been appointed by his father king of Bosporus, sent to make offers of submission to the Roman general, and even assisted him with ships and supplies in effecting the reduction of Sinope. (Plut. Luc. 19, 23, 24; Appian, App. Mith. 82, 83; Memnon. 45, 47-54; Strab. xii. p.546, 547; Sall. Hist. ii. fr. 28, iv. fr. 12, p. 240, ed. Gerlach.)

During this interval Lucullus had devotee much of his time and attention to the settlement of the affairs of Asia, where the provincials and cities were suffering severely from the exactions and oppressions of the Roman revenue officers. To this evil lie effectually put an end, by fixing one uniform and Moderate rate of interest for all arrears, and by othre judicious regulations checked the monstrous abuses of the public farmers of the revenue. By these measures he earned the favour and gratitude of the cities of Asia, which they displayed in public by celebrating games in his honour, and by every demonstration of respect and attachment. So judicious and complete indeed was the settlement of the internal affairs of Asia now introduced by Lucullus, that it continued long after to be followed as the established system. But by thus interposing to check the exactions of the knights who were the farmers of the revenue, he brought upon himself the enmity of that powerful body, who were loud in their complaints against him at Rome, and by their continued clamours undoubtedly prepared the way for his ultimate recall. (Plut. Luc. 20, 23; Appian. Mithr. 83 ; Cic. Acad. pr. 2.1.)

Meanwhile 1 Appius Claudius, who had been sent by Lucullus to Tigranes, to demand the surrender of Mithridates, had returned with an unfavourable answer: intelligence had been also received that the two kings, laying aside all personal differ. ences, were assembling large forces and preparing for immediate hostilities; and Lucullus now determined to anticipate them by invading the dominions of Tigranes. It was in the spring of B. C. 69, that he set out on his march towards Armenia, with a select body of 12,000 foot and 3000 horse, leaving his lieutenant Sornatius to command in Pontus (where every thing seemed now perfectly settled) during his absence. Ariobarzanes furnished him assistance on his march through Cappadocia, and the passage of the Euphrates was facilitated by an accidental drought, which was hailed as a good omen both by the general and his soldiers. From thence lie advanced through the district of Sophene, and crossing the Tigris also directed his march towards Tigranocerta, the capital of the Armenian king. Tigranes, who had at first refused to believe the advance of Lucullus, now sent Mithrobarzanes to meet him, but that officer was quickly routed and his detachment cut to pieces. Hereupon Tigranes himself abandoned his capital, the charge of which he confided to an officer named Mancaeus, while he himself withdrew farther into the interior, to wait the arrival of the troops, which were now assembling from all quarters. Lucullus, meanwhile, proceeded to form the siege of Tigranocerta, principally, it would seem, with a view to induce the Armenian monarch to undertake its relief, and thus bring on a general action. Nor were his calculations disappointed. Tigranes at first threw an additional body of troops into the place, and succeeded in carrying off in safety his wives and concubines, who had been shut up there but he was determined not to let the city itself fall into the hands of the Romans, and soon appeared before it with an army of 150,000 foot, 55,000 horse, and 20,000 slingers and archers. Yet Lucullus fearlessly advanced with his small force to meet this formidable host, and when some one reminded him that the day (the sixth of October) was an unlucky one, he boldly answered, "Then I will make it a lucky one." The result fully justified this noble confidence. The heavyarmed horsemen of Tigranes, on whom the king placed his chief reliance, and who had been regarded with the greatest apprehension by the, Romans, fled without striking a blow; and the whole army of the enemy was dispersed and put to flight with the loss of only five men on the side of the Romans. Tigranes himself had a narrow escape, and in the confusion of the flight, his royal diadem fell into the hands of the enemy, and afterwards served to grace the triumph of Lucullus. (Plut. Luc. 23, 24-28 ; Appian, App. Mith. 34, 85; Memnon. 46, 56, 57 Eutrop. 6.9; Liv. Epit. xcviii.)

The fill of Tigranocerta was now inevitable, and it was hastened by dissensions between the Greeks and the barbarians within the city, in consequence of which the former opened the gates to Lucullus. The city was given up to plunder, but the inhabitants were spared, and the Greeks, who had been forcibly transplanted thither from Cilicia and Cappadocia, were all suffered to return to their respective cities. (Plut. Lucull.29 D. C. 35.2; Strab. xi. p.532.) Lucullus now took up his winter-quarters in Gordyene, where he received the Submission of several of the petty princes who had been subject to the yoke of Tigranes. Antiochus Asiaticus also, the last king of Syria, who had been dethroned by the Armenian king, but had taken advantage of the advance of the Romans to establish himself once more on the throne of his ancestors, now obtained from Lucullus the confirmation of his power (Appian, App. Syr. 49). But by far the most important of the neighbouring monarchs was Arsaces, king of Parthia, to whom Lucullus, knowing that his friendship and alliance had been earnestly courted by Mithridates and Tigranes, despatched Sextilius as ambassador. The Parthian monarch gave a friendly reception to the Roman envoy, and dismissed him with fair promises, but his real object was only to temporise, and, so doubtful was his conduct, that Lucullus is said to have designed to leave both Mithridates and Tigranes for a time, and march at once against Arsaces. But his projects were now cut short by the mutinous spirit of his own army. It was late in the season before it was possible to renew military operations in the mountainous and elevated regions where he now found himself, and meanwhile he sent orders to Sornatius to bring to his support the troops which he had left in Pontus, but the soldiers absolutely refused to follow him, and the lieutenant was unable to enforce his authority. Even those who were under the command of Lucullus himself in Gordyene, took alarm at the idea of marching against the Parthians, and not only was their general compelled to abandon this design, but it was with some difficulty that he could prevail upon them to follow him once more against Mithridates and Tigranes. These two monarchs had again assembled a considerable army, with which they occupied the high table lands of the centre of Armenia, and when Lucullus at length (in the summer of 68) moved forward to attack them, they met him on the banks of the river Arsanias. The victory of the Romans was again as decisive and as easily won as at Tigranocerta: the two kings fled ignominiously from the field, and numbers of their officers fell in the battle. But when Lucullus pushed forward with the intention of making himself master of Artaxata, the capital of Armenia, his soldiers again refused to follow him, and he was compelled to return into a less inclement region; and turning his arms southwards, he laid siege to the city of Nisibis, in Mygdonia. It was defended by the same Callimachus who had so long defied the Roman arms at Amisus, and was considered to be altogether impregnable; but Lucullus surprised it during a dark and stormy winter's night, and afterwards took up his quarters there, until the season should admit of a renewal of military operations. (Plut. Luc. 30-32; Appian, App. Mith. 87; D. C. 35.4-7.)

But the discontents among his troops which had already given Lucullus so much trouble, broke out with renewed violence in the camp at Nisibis. They were fostered by P. Clodius, whose turbulent and restless spirit already showed itself in its full force, and encouraged by reports from Rome, where the demagogues, who were favourable to Pompey, or had been gained over by the equestrian party (whose bitter hostility against Lucullus had never relaxed), were loud in their clamours against that general. They accused him of protracting the war for his own personal objects either of ambition or avarice; and the soldiery, whose appetite for plunder had been often checked by Lucullus, readily joined in the outcry. It was, therefore, in vain that he endeavoured to prevail upon his mutinous army to resume operations in the spring of the year 67; and while he remained motionless at Nisibis, Mithridates, who had already taken advantage of his absence to invade Pontus and attempt the recovery of his own dominions, was able to overthrow the Roman lieutenants Fabius and Triarius in several successive actions. [MITHRIDATES.] The news of these disasters compelled Lucullus to return in all haste to Pontus, a movement doubtless in accordance with the wishes of his army, who appear to have followed him on this occasion without reluctance. On his approach Mithridates withdrew into the Lesser Armenia, and thither Lucullus prepared to pursue and attack him, when his movements were again paralysed by the open mutiny of his soldiers. All that he could obtain from them by the most abject entreaties, was the promise that they would not abandon his standard during the remainder of that summer, and he was compelled to establish himself in a camp, where he spent all the rest of the season in inactivity, while Mithridates and Tigranes were able to overrun without opposition the greater part both of Pontus and Cappadocia. Such was the state of things, when ten legates (among whom was Marcus, the brother of Lucullus) arrived in Asia, to settle the affairs of Pontus, and reduce it to the form of a Roman province; and they had, in consequence, to report to the senate that the country supposed to have been completely conquered was again in the hands of the enemy. The adversaries of Lucullus naturally availed themselves of so favourable an occasion, and a decree was passed to transfer to Acilius Glabrio, one of the consuls for the year, the province of Bithynia and the command against Mithridates. But Glabrio was wholly incompetent for the task assigned him: on arriving in Bithynia, and learning the posture of affairs, he made no attempt to assume the command or take the field against Mithridates, but remained quiet within the confines of the Roman province, while he still farther embarrassed the position of Lucullus, by issuing proclamations to his soldiers, announcing to them that their general was superseded, and releasing them from their obedience. Mithridates meanwhile ably availed himself of this position of affairs, and Lucullus had the mortification of seeing Pontus and Cappadocia occupied by the enemy before his eyes, and the results of all his previous campaigns apparently annihilated, without being able to stir a step in their defence. But it was still more galling to his feelings when, in the spring of B. C. 66, he was called upon to resign the command to his old rival Pompey, who had been appointed by the Manilian law to supersede both him and Glabrio. (Plut. Luc. 33-35; Appian, App. Mith. 88-91; D. C. 35.8-10, 12-17; Cic. p. Leg. Manil. 2, 5, 9, Ep. ad Att. 13.6; Eutrop. 6.11.) The friends of the two generals succeeded in bringing about an interview between them before Lucullus quitted his government; but though the meeting was at first friendly, it ended in bickerings and disputes, which only aggravated the enmity already existing between them. Pompey still further increased the irritation of his rival by proceeding to rescind many of the regulations which the latter had introduced, even before he had quitted the province. (Plut. Luc. 36, Pomp. 31; D. C. 36.29.)

Deeply mortified at this termination to his glorious career, Lucullus returned to Rome to claim the well-merited honour of a triumph. But even this was opposed by the machinations of his adversaries. C. Memmius, one of the tribunes, brought against him various charges for maladministration, and it was not till an interval of nearly three years had elapsed, that this opposition was overcome, and Lucullus at length celebrated his triumph with the greatest magnificence, at the commencement of the year 63. (Plut. Luc. 37, Cat. Min. 29; Cic. Acad. pr. 2.1; Vell. 2.34.) In these disputes the cause of Lucullus was warmly supported by Cato, whose sister Servilia he had married, as well as by the whole aristocratical party at Rome, who were alarmed at the increasing power of Pompey, and sought in Lucullus a rival and antagonist to the object of their fears. But his character was ill adapted for the turbulent times in which he lived; and, instead of putting himself prominently forward as the leader of a party he soon began to withdraw gradually from public affairs, and devote himself more and more to a life of indolence and luxury. After the return of Pompey, however, in B. C. 62, he took a leading part, together with Metellus Creticus, Cato, and others of the aristocratic party, in opposing the indiscriminate ratification of the acts of Pompey in Asia. By their combined efforts they succeeded in delaying the proposed measure for more than two years, but at the same time produced the effect, which they had doubtless not anticipated, of forcing Pompey into the arms of the opposite faction, and thus bringing about the coalition known as the First Triumvirate. (Plut. Luc. 138, 42, Pomp. 46; Vell. 2.40; D. C. 37.49; Suet. Jul. 19.) After that event Lucullus took little part in political affairs. He had previously come forward at the trial of P. Clodius (B. C. 61), to give his testimony to the profligate and vicious character of the accused (Cic. pro Milon. 27), and by this means, as well as by the general course of his policy, had incurred the enmity both of Crassus and Caesar, so that he found himself on hostile terms with all the three individuals who had now the chief direction of affairs at Rome. Caesar even threatened him with a prosecution for his proceedings in Asia; a danger which so much alarmed him that he had recourse to the most humiliating entreaties in order to avert it (Suet. Jul. 20). In the following year (B. C. 59) he was among the leaders of the aristocratic party, charged by L. Vettius, at the instigation of Vatinius, with an imaginary plot against the life of Pompey (Cic. in Vatin. 10, Ep. ad Att. 2.24); and in the same year he is mentioned among the judges at the trial of L. Flaccus (Cic. pro Flacc. 34). But these two are the last occasions on which his name appears in history. The precise period of his death is not mentioned, but he cannot long have survived the return of Cicero from exile, as the great orator refers to him as no longer living, in his oration concerning the consular provinces, delivered the following year, B. C. 56 (Cic. de Prov. Cons. 9). We are told that for some time previous to his death he had fallen into a state of complete dotage, so that the management of his affairs was confided to his brother Marcus (Plut. Luc. 43; Aur Vict. de Vir. Illustr. 74). But his death, as often happens, revived in its full force the memory of his great exploits; and when the funeral oration was pronounced in the forum over his remains, the populace insisted that he should be buried, as Sulla had been, in the Campus Martius, and it was with difficulty that his brother prevailed on them to allow his ashes to be deposited, as previously arranged, in his Tusculan villa (Plut. Ibid.).

The name of Lucullus is almost as celebrated for the luxury of his latter years as for his victories over Mithridates. He appears to have inherited the love of money inherent in his family, while the circumstances in which he was placed gave him the opportunity of gratifying it without having recourse to the illegal means which had disgraced his father and grandfather. As quaestor under Sulla, and afterwards during his residence in Asia, it is probable that he had already accumulated much wealth: and during the long period of his government as proconsul, and his wars against Mithridates and Tigranes, he appears to have amassed vast treasures. These supplied him the means, after his return to Rome, of gratifying his natural taste for luxury, and enabled him to combine an ostentatious magnificence of display with all the resources of the most refined sensual indulgence. His gardens in the immediate suburbs of the city were laid out in a style of splendour exceeding all that had been previously known, and continued to be an object of admiration even under the emperors: but still more remarkable were his villas at Tusculum, and in the neighbourhood of Neapolls. In the construction of the latter, with its various appurtenances, its parks, fish-ponds, &c., he had laid out vast sums in cutting through hills and rocks, and throwing out advanced works into the sea. So gigantic indeed was the scale of these labours for objects apparently so insignificant, that Pompey called him, in derision, the Roman Xerxes. His feasts at Rome itself were celebrated on a scale of inordinate magnificence: a single supper in the hall, called that of Apollo, was said to cost the sum of 50,000 denarii. Even during his campaigns it appears that the pleasures of the table had not been forgotten; and it is well known that he was the first to introduce cherries into Italy, which he had brought with him from Cerasus in Pontus. (Plut. Luc. 39-41; Cic. de Leg. 3.13, de Off. 1.39; Plin. Nat. 8.52, 9.54, 14.14, 15.25; Varr. de R. R. 3.4, 17; Vell. 2.33; Athen. 2.50, vi. p. 274, xii. p. 543, For further details see Drnmann's Geschichte Roms, vol. iv. pp. 169, 170, where all the ancient authorities are referred to.) In the midst of these sensual indulgences, however, there were not wanting pleasures of a more refined and elevated character. Lucullus had from his earliest years devoted much attention to literary pursuits, and had displayed an enlightened patronage towards men of letters: he had also applied part of his wealth to the acquisition of a valuable library, which was now opened to the free use of the literary public; and here he himself used to associate with the Greek philosophers and literati who at this time swarmed at Rome, and would enter warmly into their metaphysical and philosophical discussions Hence the picture drawn by Cicero at the commencement of the Academics was probably to a certain extent taken from the reality. His constant companion from the time of his quaestorship had been Antiochus of Ascalon, from whom he imblibed the precepts of the Academic school of philosophy, to which he continued through life to be attached (Cic Acadl. pr. 2.2, de Fin. 3.2; Plut. Luc. 42.) His patronage of the poet Archias is too well known to require farther mention (Cic. pr. Arch. 3-5); and the sculptor Arcesilaus is also said to have been one of his constant associates. (Plin. Nat. 35.12.45.)

The character of Luctllus is one not difficult to comprehend. He had no pretension to the name of a great man, and was evidently unable to cope with the circumstances in which he found himself placed, and the sterner but more energetic spirits by whom he was surrounded. Yet he was certainly a man of no common ability, and gifted in particular with a natural genius for war. We cannot indeed receive in its full extent the assertion of Cicero (Acad. pr. 2.1), that he had received no previous military training, and came out at once a consummate general on his arrival in Pontus, merely from the study of historical and military writings; for we know that he had served in his youth with distinction in the Marsic war; and as quaestor under Sulla he must have had many opportunities of acquiring a practical knowledge of military affairs. But the talent that he displayed as a commander is not the less remarkable. Plutarch has justly called attention to the skill with which he secured the victory at one time by the celerity of his movements, at another time by caution and delay: and though the far greater fame of his successor has tended to cast the military exploits of Lucullus into the shade, there can be no doubt that the real merit of the Mithridatic war is principally due to the latter. In one quality, however, of a great commander he was altogether wanting--in the power of attaching to him his soldiers; and to this deficiency, as we have seen, may be ascribed in great measure the ill fortune which clouded the latter part of his career. We are told indeed that some of the legions placed under his command were of a very turbulent and factious character; but these very troops afterwards followed Pompey without a murmur, even after the legal period of their service was expired. This unpopularity of Lucullus is attributed to a severity and harshness in the exaction of duties and punishment of offences, which seems strangely at variance with all else that we know of his character: it is more probable that it was owing to a selfish indifference, which prevented him from sympathising or associating with the men and officers under his command. (Comp. Plut. Luc. 33; D. C. 35.61.) In his treatment of his vanquished enemies, on the contrary, as well as of the cities and provinces subjected to his permanent rule, the conduct of Lucullus stands out in bright contrast to that of almost all his contemporaries; and it must be remembered, in justice to his character, that the ill will of his own troops, as well as that of the unprincipled farmers of the revenue, was incurred in great part by acts of benevolence or of equity towards these classes. In his natural love of justice and kindness of disposition, his character more resembles that of Cicero than any other of his contemporaries. (See particularly Plut. Luc. 19.)

Though early withdrawn from the occupations and pursuits of the forum, which prevented his becoming a finished orator, Lucullus was far from a contemptible speaker (Cic. Ac. 2.1; Brut. 62); the same causes probably operated against his attaining to that literary distinction which his earliest years appeared to promise. Plutarch, however, tells us (Lucull. 1) that he composed a history of the Marsic war in Greek; and the same work is alluded to by Cicero. (Ep. ad Att. 1.19.) It has been already mentioned that Sulla left him his literary executor, a sufficient evidence of the reputation he then enjoyed in this respect. He was noted for the excellence of his memory, which, Cicero tells us, was nearly, if not quite, equal to that of Hortensius. (Acad. pr. 2.1, 2.)

Lucullus was twice married: first to Clodia daughter of App. Claudius Pulcher, whom he divorced on his return from the Mithridatic war, on account of her licentious and profligate conduct (Plut. Luc. 38): and secondly, to Servilia, daughter of Q. Servilius Caepio, and half-sister of M. Cato. By the latter he had one son, the subject of the following article. (The fullest account of the life of Lucullus, and a very just estimate of his character, will be found in Drumann's Geschichte Roms, vol. iv.)

1 * The chronology of these events is very confused and perplexing. It seems certain that the siege of Cyzicus took place in the winter of 74-73, and that of Amisus in the following winter, 73-72 (Plut. Luc. 33): hence it is probable that the flight of Mithridates into Armenia must have taken place before the end of 72; but as it is also certain (Dio Cass. xxxv.) that the first campain of Lucullus against Tigranes did not take place till 69, the interval appears inexplicably long. Drumann, in consequence, refers the flight of Mithridates to the year 71, but it is difficult to reconcile this with the details of the campaigns as given by Appian and Plutarch.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
88 BC (1)
87 BC (1)
86 BC (1)
84 BC (1)
72 BC (1)
71 BC (1)
69 BC (1)
66 BC (1)
62 BC (1)
61 BC (1)
59 BC (1)
56 BC (1)
106 BC (1)
hide References (53 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (52):
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 11.72
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 11.76
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 11.77
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 12.82
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 12.83
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 5.33
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 5.34
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 8.51
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 8.56
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 10.71
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 12.85
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 13.87
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 13.88
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 14.91
    • Appian, Mithridatic Wars, 8.52
    • Appian, Syrian Wars, 8.49
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 19
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 20
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 14.14
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 15.25
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 35.12
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.52
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 8.7
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 9.54
    • Cicero, Lucullus, 1
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 1
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 20
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 24
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 28
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 36
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 37
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 39
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 11
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 12
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 19
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 1.4
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 2
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 23
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 30
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 32
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 33
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 35
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 38
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 4
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 41
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 42
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 43
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 5
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 6
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 7
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 8
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 2.50
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Plutarch, Lucullus, 33
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: