Monday, May 18, 2009

Roman General: Lucius Licinius Lucullus

Lucius Licinius Lucullus, Roman general. Born in Rome in about 118 B.C.

Lucullus served with Sulla in the Social War. From 88 B.C. to 84 B.C. he was quaestor and proquaestor under Sulla in the eastern provinces.

He held the consulship in 74 B.C. and received command of the Roman armies in the third war against Mithridates VI.

During the campaigns of 74-72 he relieved Cotta, who had been besieged in Chalcedon, destroyed the enemy's fleet off Lemnos, entered Bithynia, and forced Mithridates to take refuge at the court of his son-in-law, Tigranes, King of Armenia.

His financial reforms in the province of Asia, although popular with the provincials, brought him into conflict with the Roman financiers, who supervised tax collection there. Lucullus won brilliant victories in Asia Minor, but he was unable to bring the war to an end because of mutiny among his troops.

In 66 B.C., Lucullus was replaced in Asia by Pompey. On his return to Rome Lucullus retired from public life and became notorious as a bon viveur. He had a famous villa on the promontory of Misenum, which afterwards became the property of Tiberius. He wrote a history of the Marsian War in Greek, and is said to have been the first to introduce cherries, from Cerasus in Pontus, to Italy. In his later years he was known for his luxurious dinners and his patronage of philosophy and literature. He died in about 57 B.C.

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