A Roman general, who proved crucial in the Third Mithridatic War.
He first proved himself an admirable soldier while serving as tribune under
Sulla during the Social War. During this time, he demonstrated his intelligence and his daring. He was elected quaestor in 89/88 BCE. In that autumn, Sulla sent Lucullus into Greece to act as a commander of the Roman forces during the First Mithridatic War. He proved crucial in Sulla’s naval victories. After peace had been made, Lucullus stayed in Asia to collect the financial penalty imposed upon by Sulla.
Lucullus returned to Rome in 80 BCE. He was elected curule aedile in 79 BCE, during which time he gave splendid games for the Roman people. He was then elected praetor and commanded Roman Africa “with the highest degree of justice” (Aurelius Victor). Lucullus was later named consul in 74 BCE alongside
Marcus Aurelius Cotta. During which time, he defended Sulla’s constitution. He was given a proconsular command over Cilicia and thus was given command against Mithridates VI during the Third Mithridatic Wars.
When he first arrived in Asia, Lucullus had to restore the discipline of the army, who had been spoiled by luxury and greed. He then rescued Cotta by besieging Chalcedon. He also had rather key victories during the siege of Cyzicus in 73-72 BCE and at the Battle of Tigranocerta in 69 BCE. Despite these successes, in 66 BCE, his army began to refuse his orders and the Senate sent Pompey to replace him as commander. Moreover, Pompey’s ally Gaius Memmius prevented him from celebrating a triumph.
Using the spoils from the Third Mithridatic War, he lived a life of luxury. He had gardens outside of the city of Rome, which have continued to exact as luxurious gardens, i.e., the Villa Borghese, for modern inhabitants of the city, and villas around Tusculum and Neapolis. Pompey is reported to have referred to him as “Xerxes in a toga.” In 63 BCE, he received his triumph through the help of Cato and
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