Lucius Licinius Lucullus (ca. 118-56 BC) was a military commander and a politician of the Roman Republic, most recognized for supporting Lucius Cornelius Sulla in his march on Rome as well as for winning the battle of Tigranocerta during the Third Mithridatic War. The famous gardens of Lucullus are named after him.
Initially, he drew Cisalpine Gaul in the lots at the start of his consulship as his proconsular command after his year as consul was done, but he got himself appointed governor of Cilicia after its governor died, so as to also receive the command against Mithridates VI in the Third Mithridatic War.
On arrival, Lucullus set out from his province to relieve the besieged Cotta in Bithynia. He harried the army of Mithridates and killed many of his soldiers. He then turned to the sea and raised a fleet amongst the Greek cities of Asia. With this fleet he defeated the enemy's fleet off Ilium and then off Lemnos. Turning back to the land, he drove Mithridates back into Pontus. He was wary of drawing into a direct engagement with Mithridates, due to the latter's superior cavalry. But after several small battles, Lucullus finally defeated him at the Battle of Cabira. He did not pursue Mithridates immediately, but instead he finished conquering the kingdom of Pontus and setting the affairs of Asia into order. His attempts to reform the rapacious Roman administration in Asia made him increasingly unpopular among the powerful publicani back in Rome.
He then led an attack against Tigranes II of Armenia, Mithridates's son-in-law and ally, and to whom Mithridates fled after Cabeira. He proceeded first against Tigranocerta and laid siege to it. This drew forth the army of Tigranes, which Lucullus defeated despite being heavily out-numbered. He then defeated Tigranes and Mithridates in the Battle of Artaxata (October 6 68 BC) but didn't proceed onto Artaxata because of dissension among his troops. His authority over his legions was undermined by the efforts of his brother-in-law Publius Clodius. This allowed Mithridates and Tigranes to retake much of their respective kingdoms.
quitted and abandoned public affairs, either because he saw that they were already beyond proper control and diseased, or, as some say, because he had his fill of glory, and felt that the unfortunate issue of his many struggles and toils entitled him to fall back upon a life of ease and luxury...[for] in the life of Lucullus, as in an ancient comedy, one reads in the first part of political measures and military commands, and in the latter part of drinking bouts, and banquets, and what might pass for revel-routs, and torch-races, and all manner of frivolity
He used the vast treasure he amassed during his wars in the East to live a life of luxury. He had splendid gardens outside the city of Rome, as well as villas around Tusculum and Neapolis. The one near Neapolis included fish ponds and man-made extensions into the sea, and was only one of many elite senators' villas around the Bay of Naples. Pompey is said by Pliny to have referred often to Lucullus as "Xerxes in Roman dress".
Once, Cicero and Pompey succeeded in inviting themselves to dinner with Lucullus, but, curious to see what sort of meal Lucullus ate when alone, forbade him to send word ahead to his servants to prepare a meal for guests. However, Lucullus outsmarted them. He ordered that his servants serve him in the Apollo Room, and as his servants had been schooled ahead of time as to precisely what to make for each of the different dining rooms, Cicero and Pompey ate the most luxurious of all meals.
Another tale runs that one of his servants, upon hearing that he would have no guests for dinner, served only one course. Lucullus reprimanded his servant saying, "What, did not you know, then, that today Lucullus dines with Lucullus?". He was also responsible for bringing the sweet cherry and the apricot to Rome.Antiochus of Ascalon and one of only a few late Republican senators (Caesar also included) who expressed interest in the idea of building a public library.
After his divorce from Clodia, who was a licentious and base woman, he married Servilia, a sister of Cato, but this, too, was an unfortunate marriage. For it lacked none of the evils which Clodia had brought in her train except one, namely, the scandal about her brothers. In all other respects Servilia was equally vile and abandoned, and yet Lucullus forced himself to tolerate her, out of regard for Cato. At last, however, he put her away