Lucullus’s grandfather had been consul; his uncle by the mother’s sister was Metellus, surnamed Numidicus. As for his parents, his father was convicted of extortion, and his mother Caecilia’s reputation was bad. The first thing that Lucullus did before ever he stood for any office, or meddled with the affairs of state, being then but a youth, was, to accuse the accuser of his father, Servilius the augur, having caught him in an offense against the state. This thing was much taken notice of among the Romans, who commended it as an act of high merit. Even without the provocation, the accusation was esteemed no unbecoming action, for they delighted to see young men as eagerly attacking injustice, as good dogs do wild beasts. But when great animosities ensued, insomuch that some were wounded and killed in the fray, Servilius escaped. Lucullus followed his studies, and became a competent speaker, in both Greek and Latin, insomuch that Sylla, when composing the commentaries of his own life and actions, dedicated them to him, as one who could have performed the task better himself. His speech was not only elegant and ready for purposes of mere business, like the ordinary oratory which will in the public market-place,
Lash as a wounded tunny does the sea,
but on every other occasion shows itself
Dried up and perished with the want of wit;
but even in his younger days he addicted himself to the study, simply for its own sake, of the liberal arts; and when advanced in years, after a life of conflicts, he gave his mind, as it were, its liberty, to enjoy in full leisure the refreshment of philosophy; and summoning up his contemplative faculties, administered a timely check, after his difference with Pompey, to his feelings of emulation and ambition. Besides what has been said of his love of learning already, one instance more was, that in his youth, upon a suggestion of writing the Marsian war in Greek and Latin verse and prose, arising out of some pleasantry that passed into a serious proposal, he agreed with Hortensius the lawyer, and Sisenna the historian, that he would take his lot; and it seems that the lot directed him to the Greek tongue, for a Greek history of that war is still extant.
Among the many signs of the great love which he bore to his brother Marcus, one in particular is commemorated by the Romans. Though he was elder brother, he would not step into authority without him, but deferred his own advance until his brother was qualified to bear a share with him, and so won upon the people, as when absent to be chosen Aedile with him.
He gave many and early proofs of his valor and conduct, in the Marsian war, and was admired by Sylla for his constancy and mildness, and always employed in affairs of importance, especially in the mint; most of the money for carrying on the Mithridatic war being coined by him in Peloponnesus, which, by the soldiers’ wants, was brought into rapid circulation, and long continued current under the name of Lucullean coin. After this, when Sylla conquered Athens, and was victorious by land, but found the supplies for his army cut off, the enemy being master at sea, Lucullus was the man whom he sent into Libya and Egypt, to procure him shipping. It was the depth of winter when he ventured with but three small Greek vessels, and as many Rhodian galleys, not only into the main sea, but also among multitudes of vessels belonging to the enemies, who were cruising about as absolute masters. Arriving at Crete, he gained it; and finding the Cyrenians harassed by long tyrannies and wars, he composed their troubles, and settled their government; putting the city in mind of that saying which Plato once had oracularly uttered of them, who, being requested to prescribe laws to them, and mold them into some sound form of government, made answer, that it was a hard thing to give laws to the Cyrenians, abounding, as they did, in wealth and plenty. For nothing is more intractable than man when in felicity, nor anything more docile, when he has been reduced and humbled by fortune. This made the Cyrenians so willingly submit to the laws which Lucullus imposed upon them. From thence sailing into Egypt, and, pressed by pirates, he lost most of his vessels; but he himself narrowly escaping, made a magnificent entry into Alexandria. The whole fleet, a compliment due only to royalty, met him in full array, and the young Ptolemy showed wonderful kindness to him, appointing him lodging and diet in the palace, where no foreign commander before him had been received. Besides, he gave him gratuities and presents, not such as were usually given to men of his condition, but four times as much; of which, however, he took nothing more than served his necessity, and accepted of no gift, though what was worth eighty talents was offered him. It is reported he neither went to see Memphis, nor any of the celebrated wonders of Egypt. It was for a man of no business and much curiosity to see such things, not for him who had left his commander in the field, lodging under the ramparts of his enemies.
Ptolemy, fearing the issue of that war, deserted the confederacy, but nevertheless sent a convoy with him as far as Cyprus, and at parting, with much ceremony, wishing him a good voyage, gave him a very precious emerald set in gold. Lucullus at first refused it, but when the king showed him his own likeness cut upon it, he thought he could not persist in a denial, for had he parted with such open offense, it might have endangered his passage. Drawing a considerable squadron together, which he summoned, as he sailed by, out of all the maritime towns, except those suspected of piracy, he sailed for Cyprus; and there understanding that the enemy lay in wait under the promontories for him, he laid up his fleet, and sent to the cities to send in provisions for his wintering among them. But when time served, he launched his ships suddenly, and went off, and hoisting all his sails in the night, while he kept them down in the day, thus came safe to Rhodes. Being furnished with ships at Rhodes, he also prevailed upon the inhabitants of Cos and Cnidus, to leave the king’s side, and join in an expedition against the Samians. Out of Chios he himself drove the king’s party, and set the Colophonians at liberty, having seized Epigonus the tyrant, who oppressed them.
About this time Mithridates left Pergamus, and retired to Pitane, where being closely besieged by Fimbria on the land, and not daring to engage with so bold and victorious a commander, he was concerting means for escape by sea, and sent for all his fleets from every quarter to attend him. Which when Fimbria perceived, having no ships of his own, he sent to Lucullus, entreating him to assist him with his, in subduing the most odious and warlike of kings, lest the opportunity of humbling Mithridates, the prize which the Romans had pursued with so much blood and trouble, should now at last be lost, when he was within the net, and easily to be taken. And were he caught, no one would be more highly commended than Lucullus, who stopped his passage and seized him in his flight. Being driven from the land by the one, and met in the sea by the other, he would give matter of renown and glory to them both, and the much applauded actions of Sylla at Orchomenus and about Chaeronea, would no longer be thought of by the Romans. The proposal was no unreasonable thing; it being obvious to all men, that if Lucullus had hearkened to Fimbria, and with his navy, which was then near at hand, had blocked up the haven, the war soon had been brought to an end, and infinite numbers of mischiefs prevented thereby. But he, whether from the sacredness of friendship between himself and Sylla, reckoning all other considerations of public or of private advantage inferior to it, or out of detestation of the wickedness of Fimbria, whom he abhorred for advancing himself by the late death of his friend and the general of the army, or by a divine fortune sparing Mithridates then, that he might have him an adversary for a time to come, for whatever reason, refused to comply, and suffered Mithridates to escape and laugh at the attempts of Fimbria. He himself alone first, near Lectum in Troas, in a sea-fight, overcame the king’s ships; and afterwards, discovering Neoptolemus lying in wait for him near Tenedos, with a greater fleet, he went aboard a Rhodian quinquereme galley, commended by Damagoras, a man of great experience at sea, and friendly to the Romans, and sailed before the rest. Neoptolemus made up furiously at him, and commanded the master, with all imaginable might, to charge; but Damagoras, fearing the bulk and massy stem of the admiral, thought it dangerous to meet him prow to prow, and, rapidly wheeling round, bid his men back water, and so received him astern; in which place, though violently borne upon, he received no manner of harm, the blow being defeated by falling on those parts of the ship which lay under water. By which time, the rest of the fleet coming up to him, Lucullus gave order to turn again, and vigorously falling, upon the enemy, put them to flight, and pursued Neoptolemus. After this he came to Sylla, in Chersonesus, as he was preparing to pass the strait, and brought timely assistance for the safe transportation of the army.
Peace being presently made, Mithridates sailed off to the Euxine sea, but Sylla taxed the inhabitants of Asia twenty thousand talents, and ordered Lucullus to gather and coin the money. And it was no small comfort to the cities under Sylla’s severity, that a man of not only incorrupt and just behavior, but also of moderation, should be employed in so heavy and odious an office. The Mitylenaeans, who absolutely revolted, he was willing should return to their duty, and submit to a moderate penalty for the offense they had given in the case of Marius. But, finding them bent upon their own destruction, he came up to them, defeated them at sea, blocked them up in their city and besieged them; then sailing off from them openly in the day to Elaea, he returned privately, and posting an ambush near the city, lay quiet himself: And on the Mitylenaeans coming out eagerly and in disorder to plunder the deserted camp, he fell upon them, took many of them, and slew five hundred, who stood upon their defense. He gained six thousand slaves, and a very rich booty.
He was no way engaged in the great and general troubles of Italy which Sylla and Marius created, a happy providence at that time detaining him in Asia upon business. He was as much in Sylla’s favor, however, as any of his other friends; Sylla, as was said before, dedicated his Memoirs to him as a token of kindness, and at his death, passing by Pompey, made him guardian to his son; which seems, indeed, to have been the rise of the quarrel and jealousy between them two being both young men, and passionate for honor.
A little after Sylla’s death, he was made consul with Marcus Cotta, about the one hundred and seventy-sixth Olympiad. The Mithridatic war being then under debate, Marcus declared that it was not finished, but only respited for a time, and therefore, upon choice of provinces, the lot falling to Lucullus to have Gaul within the Alps, a province where no great action was to be done, he was ill-pleased. But chiefly, the success of Pompey in Spain fretted him, as, with the renown he got there, if the Spanish war were finished in time, he was likely to be chosen general before anyone else against Mithridates. So that when Pompey sent for money, and signified by letter that, unless it were sent him, he would leave the country and Sertorius, and bring his forces home to Italy, Lucullus most zealously supported his request, to prevent any pretence of his returning home during his own consulship; for all things would have been at his disposal, at the head of so great an army. For Cethegus, the most influential popular leader at that time, owing to his always both acting and speaking to please the people, had, as it happened, a hatred to Lucullus, who had not concealed his disgust at his debauched, insolent, and lawless life. Lucullus, therefore, was at open warfare with him. And Lucius Quintius, also, another demagogue, who was taking steps against Sylla’s constitution, and endeavoring to put things out of order, by private exhortations and public admonitions he checked in his designs, and repressed his ambition, wisely and safely remedying a great evil at the very outset.
At this time news came that Octavius, the governor of Cilicia, was dead, and many were eager for the place, courting Cethegus, as the man best able to serve them. Lucullus set little value upon Cilicia itself, no otherwise than as he thought, by his acceptance of it, no other man besides himself might be employed in the war against Mithridates, by reason of its nearness to Cappadocia. This made him strain every effort that that province might be allotted to himself, and to none other; which led him at last into an expedient not so honest or commendable, as it was serviceable for compassing his design, submitting to necessity against his own inclination. There was one Praecia, a celebrated wit and beauty, but in other respects nothing better than an ordinary harlot; who, however, to the charms of her person adding the reputation of one that loved and served her friends, by making use of those who visited her to assist their designs and promote their interests, had thus gained great power. She had seduced Cethegus, the first man at that time in reputation and authority of all the city, and enticed him to her love, and so had made all authority follow her. For nothing of moment was done in which Cethegus was not concerned, and nothing by Cethegus without Praecia. This woman Lucullus gained to his side by gifts and flattery, (and a great price it was in itself to so stately and magnificent a dame, to be seen engaged in the same cause with Lucullus,) and thus he presently found Cethegus his friend, using his utmost interest to procure Cilicia for him; which when once obtained, there was no more need of applying himself either to Praecia, or Cethegus; for all unanimously voted him to the Mithridatic war, by no hands likely to be so successfully managed as his. Pompey was still contending with Sertorius, and Metellus by age unfit for service; which two alone were the competitors who could prefer any claim with Lucullus for that command. Cotta, his colleague, after much ado in the senate, was sent away with a fleet to guard the Propontis, and defend Bithynia.
Lucullus carried with him a legion under his own orders, and crossed over into Asia and took the command of the forces there, composed of men who were all thoroughly disabled by dissoluteness and rapine, and the Fimbrians, as they were called, utterly unmanageable by long want of any sort of discipline. For these were they who under Fimbria had slain Flaccus, the consul and general, and afterwards betrayed Fimbria to Sylla; a willful and lawless set of men, but warlike, expert, and hardy in the field. Lucullus in a short time took down the courage of these, and disciplined the others, who then first, in all probability, knew what a true commander and governor was; whereas in former times they had been courted to service, and took up arms at nobody’s command, but their own wills.
The enemy’s provisions for war stood thus; Mithridates, like the Sophists, boastful and haughty at first, set upon the Romans, with a very inefficient army, such, indeed, as made a good show, but was nothing for use. But being shamefully routed, and taught a lesson for a second engagement, he reduced his forces to a proper, serviceable shape. Dispensing with the mixed multitudes, and the noisy menaces of barbarous tribes of various languages, and with the ornaments of gold and precious stones, a greater temptation to the victors than security to the bearers, he gave his men broad swords like the Romans’, and massy shields; chose horses better for service than show, drew up an hundred and twenty thousand foot in the figure of the Roman phalanx, and had sixteen thousand horse, besides chariots armed with scythes, no less than a hundred. Besides which, he set out a fleet not at all cumbered with gilded cabins, luxurious baths and women’s furniture, but stored with weapons and darts, and other necessaries, and thus made a descent upon Bithynia. Not only did these parts willingly receive him again, but almost all Asia regarded him as their salvation from the intolerable miseries which they were suffering from the Roman money-lenders, and revenue farmers. These, afterwards, who like harpies stole away their very nourishment, Lucullus drove away, and at this time by reproving them, did what he could to make them more moderate, and to prevent a general secession, then breaking out in all parts. While Lucullus was detained in rectifying these matters, Cotta, finding affairs ripe for action, prepared for battle with Mithridates; and news coming from all hands that Lucullus had already entered Phrygia, on his march against the enemy, he, thinking he had a triumph all but actually in his hands, lest his colleague should share in the glory of it, hasted to battle without him. But being routed, both by sea and land, he lost sixty ships with their men, and four thousand foot, and himself was forced into and besieged in Chalcedon, there waiting for relief from Lucullus. There were those about Lucullus who would have had him leave Cotta and go forward, in hope of surprising the defenseless kingdom of Mithridates. And this was the feeling of the soldiers in general, who wore indignant that Cotta should by his ill-counsel not only lose his own army, but hinder them also from conquest, which at that time, without the hazard of a battle, they might have obtained. But Lucullus, in a public address, declared to them that he would rather save one citizen from the enemy, than be master of all that they had.
Archelaus, the former commander in Boeotia under Mithridates, who afterwards deserted him and accompanied the Romans, protested to Lucullus that, upon his mere coming, he would possess himself of all Pontus. But he answered, that it did not become him to be more cowardly than huntsmen, to leave the wild beasts abroad, and seek after sport in their deserted dens. Having so said, he made towards Mithridates with thirty thousand foot, and two thousand five hundred horse. But on being come in sight of his enemies, he was astonished at their numbers, and thought to forbear fighting, and wear out time. But Marius, whom Sertorius had sent out of Spain to Mithridates with forces under him, stepping out and challenging him, he prepared for battle. In the very instant before joining battle, without any perceptible alteration preceding, on a sudden the sky opened, and a large luminous body fell down in the midst between the armies, in shape like a hogshead, but in color like melted silver, insomuch that both armies in alarm withdrew. This wonderful prodigy happened in Phrygia, near Otryae. Lucullus after this began to think with himself that no human power and wealth could suffice to sustain such great numbers as Mithridates had, for any long time in the face of an enemy, and commanded one of the captives to be brought before him, and first of all asked him, how many companions had been quartered with him, and how much provision he had left behind him, and when he had answered him, commanded him to stand aside; then asked a second and a third the same question; after which, comparing the quantity of provision with the men, he found that in three or four days’ time, his enemies would be brought to want. This all the more determined him to trust to time, and he took measures to store his camp with all sorts of provision, and thus living in plenty, trusted to watch the necessities of his hungry enemy.
This made Mithridates set out against the Cyzicenians, miserably shattered in the fight at Chalcedon, where they lost no less than three thousand citizens and ten ships. And that he might the safer steal away unobserved by Lucullus, immediately after supper, by the help of a dark and wet night, he went off and by the morning gained the neighborhood of the city, and sat down with his forces upon the Adrastean mount. Lucullus, on finding him gone, pursued, but was well pleased not to overtake him with his own forces in disorder; and he sat down near what is called the Thracian village, an admirable position for commanding all the roads and the places whence, and through which the provisions for Mithridates’s camp must of necessity come. And judging now of the event, he no longer kept his mind from his soldiers, but when the camp was fortified and their work finished, called them together, and with great assurance told them that in a few days, without the expense of blood, he would give them victory.
Mithridates besieged the Cyzicenians with ten camps by land, and with his ships occupied the strait that was betwixt their city and the main land, and so blocked them up on all sides; they, however, were fully prepared stoutly to receive him, and resolved to endure the utmost extremity, rather than forsake the Romans. That which troubled them most was, that they knew not where Lucullus was, and heard nothing of him, though at that time his army was visible before them. But they were imposed upon by the Mithridatians, who, showing them the Romans encamped on the hills, said, “Do ye see those? those are the auxiliary Armenians and Medes, whom Tigranes has sent to Mithridates.” They were thus overwhelmed with thinking of the vast numbers round them, and could not believe any way of relief was left them, even if Lucullus should come up to their assistance. Demonax, a messenger sent in by Archelaus, was the first who told them of Lucullus’s arrival; but they disbelieved his report, and thought he came with a story invented merely to encourage them. At which time it happened that a boy, a prisoner who had run away from the enemy, was brought before them; who, being asked where Lucullus was, laughed at their jesting, as he thought, but, finding them in earnest, with his finger pointed to the Roman camp; upon which they took courage. The lake Dascylitis was navigated with vessels of some little size; one, the biggest of them, Lucullus drew ashore, and carrying her across in a wagon to the sea, filled her with soldiers, who, sailing along unseen in the dead of the night, came safe into the city.
The gods themselves, too, in admiration of the constancy of the Cyzicenians, seem to have animated them with manifest signs, more especially now in the festival of Proserpine, where a black heifer being wanting for sacrifice, they supplied it by a figure made of dough, which they set before the altar. But the holy heifer set apart for the goddess, and at that time grazing with the other herds of the Cyzicenians on the other side of the strait, left the herd and swam over to the city alone, and offered herself for sacrifice. By night, also, the goddess appearing to Aristagoras, the town clerk, “I am come,” said she, “and have brought the Libyan piper against the Pontic trumpeter; bid the citizens, therefore, be of good courage.” While the Cyzicenians were wondering what the words could mean, a sudden wind sprung up and caused a considerable motion on the sea. The king’s battering engines, the wonderful contrivance of Niconides of Thessaly, then under the walls, by their cracking and rattling, soon demonstrated what would follow; after which an extraordinarily tempestuous south wind succeeding shattered in a short space of time all the rest of the works, and by a violent concussion, threw down the wooden tower a hundred cubits high. It is said that in Ilium Minerva appeared to many that night in their sleep, with the sweat running down her person, and showed them her robe torn in one place, telling them that she had just arrived from relieving the Cyzicenians; and the inhabitants to this day show a monument with an inscription, including a public decree, referring to the fact.
Mithridates, through the knavery of his officers, not knowing for some time the want of provision in his camp, was troubled in mind that the Cyzicenians should hold out against him. But his ambition and anger fell, when he saw his soldiers in the extremity of want, and feeding on man’s flesh; as, in truth, Lucullus was not carrying on the war as mere matter of show and stage-play, but according to the proverb, made the seat of war in the belly, and did everything to cut off their supplies of food. Mithridates, therefore, took advantage of the time, while Lucullus was storming a fort, and sent away almost all his horse to Bithynia, with the sumpter cattle, and as many of the foot as were unfit for service. On intelligence of which, Lucullus, while it was yet night, came to his camp, and in the morning, though it was stormy weather, took with him ten cohorts of foot, and the horse, and pursued them under falling snow and in cold so severe that many of his soldiers were unable to proceed; and with the rest coming upon the enemy, near the river Rhyndacus, he overthrew them with so great a slaughter, that the very women of Apollonia came out to seize on the booty and strip the slain. Great numbers, as we may suppose, were slain; six thousand horses were taken, with an infinite number of beasts of burden, and no less than fifteen thousand men. All which he led along by the enemy’s camp. I cannot but wonder on this occasion at Sallust, who says that this was the first time camels were seen by the Romans, as if he thought those who, long before, under Scipio, defeated Antiochus, or those who lately had fought against Archelaus near Orchomenus and Chaeronea, had not known what a camel was. Mithridates, himself fully determined upon flight, as mere delays and diversions for Lucullus, sent his admiral Aristonicus to the Greek sea; who, however, was betrayed in the very instant of going off, and Lucullus became master of him, and ten thousand pieces of gold which he was carrying with him to corrupt some of the Roman army. After which, Mithridates himself made for the sea, leaving the foot officers to conduct the army, upon whom Lucullus fell, near the river Granicus, where he took a vast number alive, and slew twenty thousand. It is reported that the total number killed, of fighting men and of others who followed the camp, amounted to something not far short of three hundred thousand.
Lucullus first went to Cyzicus, where he was received with all the joy and gratitude suiting the occasion, and then collected a navy, visiting the shores of the Hellespont. And arriving at Troas, he lodged in the temple of Venus, where, in the night, he thought he saw the goddess coming to him, and saying,
Sleep’st thou, great lion, when the fawns are nigh?
Rising up hereupon, he called his friends to him, it being yet night, and told them his vision; at which instant some Ilians came up and acquainted him that thirteen of the king’s quinqueremes were seen off the Achaean harbor, sailing for Lemnos. He at once put to sea, took these, and slew their admiral Isidorus. And then he made after another squadron, who were just come into port, and were hauling their vessels ashore, but fought from the decks, and sorely galled Lucullus’s men; there being neither room to sail round them, nor to bear upon them for any damage, his ships being afloat, while theirs stood secure and fixed on the sand. After much ado, at the only landing-place of the island, he disembarked the choicest of his men, who, falling upon the enemy behind, killed some, and forced others to cut their cables, and thus making from the shore, they fell foul upon one another, or came within the reach of Lucullus’s fleet. Many were killed in the action. Among the captives was Marius, the commander sent by Sertorius, who had but one eye. And it was Lucullus’s strict command to his men before the engagement, that they should kill no man who had but one eye, that he might rather die under disgrace and reproach.
This being over, he hastened his pursuit after Mithridates, whom he hoped to find still in Bithynia, intercepted by Voconius, whom he sent out before to Nicomedia with part of the fleet, to stop his flight. But Voconius, loitering in Samothrace to get initiated and celebrate a feast, let slip his opportunity, Mithridates being passed by with all his fleet. He, hastening into Pontus before Lucullus should come up to him, was caught in a storm, which dispersed his fleet and sunk several ships. The wreck floated on all the neighboring shore for many days after. The merchant ship, in which he himself was, could not well in that heavy swell be brought ashore by the masters for its bigness, and it being heavy with water and ready to sink, he left it and went aboard a pirate vessel, delivering himself into the hands of pirates, and thus unexpectedly and wonderfully came safe to Heraclea, in Pontus.
Thus the proud language Lucullus had used to the senate, ended without any mischance. For they having decreed him three thousand talents to furnish out a navy, he himself was against it, and sent them word that without any such great and costly supplies, by the confederate shipping alone, he did not in the least doubt but to rout Mithridates from the sea. And so he did, by divine assistance, for it is said that the wrath of Diana of Priapus brought the great tempest upon the men of Pontus, because they had robbed her temple, and removed her image.
Many were persuading Lucullus to defer the war, but he rejected their counsel, and marched through Bithynia and Galatia into the king’s country, in such great scarcity of provision at first, that thirty thousand Galatians followed, every man carrying a bushel of wheat at his back. But subduing all in his progress before him, he at last found himself in such great plenty, that an ox was sold in the camp for a single drachma, and a slave for four. The other booty they made no account of, but left it behind or destroyed it; there being no disposing of it, where all had such abundance. But when they had made frequent incursions with their cavalry, and had advanced as far Themiscyra, and the plains of the Thermodon, merely laying waste the country before them, they began to find fault with Lucullus, asking “why he took so many towns by surrender, and never one by storm, which might enrich them with the plunder? and now, forsooth, leaving Amisus behind, a rich and wealthy city, of easy conquest, if closely besieged, he will carry us into the Tibarenian and Chaldean wilderness, to fight with Mithridates.” Lucullus, little thinking this would be of such dangerous consequence as it afterwards proved, took no notice and slighted it; and was rather anxious to excuse himself to those who blamed his tardiness, in losing time about small pitiful places not worth the while, and allowing Mithridates opportunity to recruit. “That is what I design,” said he, “and sit here contriving by my delay, that he may grow great again, and gather a considerable army, which may induce him to stand, and not fly away before us. For do you not see the wide and unknown wilderness behind? Caucasus is not far off, and a multitude of vast mountains, enough to conceal ten thousand kings that wished to avoid a battle. Besides this, a journey but of few days leads from Cabira to Armenia, where Tigranes reigns, king of kings, and holds in his hands a power that has enabled him to keep the Parthians in narrow bounds, to remove Greek cities bodily into Media, to conquer Syria and Palestine, to put to death the kings of the royal line of Seleucus, and carry away their wives and daughters by violence. This same is relation and son-in-law to Mithridates, and cannot but receive him upon entreaty, and enter into war with us to defend him; so that, while we endeavor to depose Mithridates, we shall endanger the bringing in of Tigranes against us, who already has sought occasion to fall out with us, but can never find one so justifiable as the succor of a friend and prince in his necessity. Why, therefore, should we put Mithridates upon this resource, who as yet does not see now he may best fight with us, and disdains to stoop to Tigranes; and not rather allow him time to gather a new army and grow confident again, that we may thus fight with Colchians, and Tibarenians, whom we have often defeated already, and not with Medes and Armenians.”
Upon these motives, Lucullus sat down before Amisus, and slowly carried on the siege. But the winter being well spent, he left Murena in charge of it, and went himself against Mithridates, then rendezvousing at Cabira, and resolving to await the Romans, with forty thousand foot about him, and fourteen thousand horse, on whom he chiefly confided. Passing the river Lycus, he challenged the Romans into the plains, where the cavalry engaged, and the Romans were beaten. Pomponius, a man of some note, was taken wounded; and sore, and in pain as he was, was carried before Mithridates, and asked by the king, if he would become his friend, if he saved his life. He answered, “yes, if you become reconciled to the Romans; if not, your enemy.” Mithridates wondered at him, and did him no hurt. The enemy being with their cavalry master of the plains, Lucullus was something afraid, and hesitated to enter the mountains, being very large, woody, and almost inaccessible, when, by good luck, some Greeks who had fled into a cave were taken, the eldest of whom, Artemidorus by name, promised to bring Lucullus, and seat him in a place of safety for his army, where there was a fort that overlooked Cabira. Lucullus, believing him, lighted his fires, and marched in the night; and safely passing the defile, gained the place, and in the morning was seen above the enemy, pitching his camp in a place advantageous to descend upon them if he desired to fight, and secure from being forced, if he preferred to lie still. Neither side was willing to engage at present. But it is related that some of the king’s party were hunting a stag, and some Romans wanting to cut them off, came out and met them. Whereupon they skirmished, more still drawing together to each side, and at last the king’s party prevailed, on which the Romans, from their camp seeing their companions fly, were enraged, and ran to Lucullus with entreaties to lead them out, demanding that the sign might be given for battle. But he, that they might know of what consequence the presence and appearance of a wise commander is in time of conflict and danger, ordered them to stand still. But he went down himself into the plains, and meeting with the foremost that fled, commanded them to stand and turn back with him. These obeying, the rest also turned and formed again in a body, and thus, with no great difficulty, drove back the enemies, and pursued them to their camp. After his return, Lucullus inflicted the customary punishment upon the fugitives, and made them dig a trench of twelve foot, working in their frocks unfastened, while the rest stood by and looked on.
There was in Mithridates’s camp, one Olthacus a chief of the Dandarians, a barbarous people living near the lake Maeotis, a man remarkable for strength and courage in fight, wise in council, and pleasant and ingratiating in conversation. He, out of emulation, and a constant eagerness which possessed him to outdo one of the other chiefs of his country, promised a great piece of service to Mithridates, no less than the death of Lucullus. The king commended his resolution, and, according to agreement, counterfeited anger, and put some disgrace upon him; whereupon he took horse, and fled to Lucullus, who kindly received him, being a man of great name in the army. After some short trial of his sagacity and perseverance, he found way to Lucullus’s board and council. The Dandarian, thinking he had a fair opportunity, commanded his servants to lead his horse out of the camp, while he himself, as the soldiers were refreshing and resting themselves, it being then high noon, went to the general’s tent, not at all expecting that entrance would be denied to one who was so familiar with him, and came under pretence of extraordinary business with him. He had certainly been admitted, had not sleep, which has destroyed many captains, saved Lucullus. For so it was, and Menedemus, one of the bedchamber, was standing at the door, who told Olthacus that it was altogether unseasonable to see the general, since, after long watching and hard labor, he was but just before laid down to repose himself. Olthacus would not go away upon this denial, but still persisted, saying that he must go in to speak of some necessary affairs, whereupon Menedemus grew angry, and replied that nothing was more necessary than the safety of Lucullus, and forced him away with both hands. Upon which, out of fear, he straightaway left the camp, took horse, and without effect returned to Mithridates. Thus in action as in physic, it is the critical moment that gives both the fortunate and the fatal effect.
After this, Sornatius being sent out with ten companies for forage, and pursued by Menander, one of Mithridates’s captains, stood his ground, and after a sharp engagement, routed and slew a considerable number of the enemy. Adrianus being sent afterward, with some forces, to procure food enough and to spare for the camp, Mithridates did not let the opportunity slip, but dispatched Menemachus and Myro, with a great force, both horse and foot, against him, all which except two men, it is stated, were cut off by the Romans. Mithridates concealed the loss, giving it out that it was a small defeat, nothing near so great as reported, and occasioned by the unskillfulness of the leaders. But Adrianus in great pomp passed by his camp, having many wagons full of corn and other booty, filling Mithridates with distress, and the army with confusion and consternation. It was resolved, therefore, to stay no longer. But when the king’s servants sent away their own goods quietly, and hindered others from doing so too, the soldiers in great fury thronged and crowded to the gates, seized on the king’s servants and killed them, and plundered the baggage. Dorylaus, the general, in this confusion, having nothing else besides his purple cloak, lost his life for that, and Hermaeus, the priest, was trod underfoot in the gate.
Mithridates, having not one of his guards, nor even a groom remaining with him, got out of the camp in the throng, but had none of his horses with him; until Ptolemy, the eunuch, some little time after, seeing him in the press making his way among the others, dismounted and gave his horse to the king. The Romans were already close upon him in their pursuit, nor was it through want of speed that they failed to catch him, but they were as near as possible doing so. But greediness and a petty military avarice hindered them from acquiring that booty, which in so many fights and hazards they had sought after, and lost Lucullus the prize of his victory. For the horse which carried the king was within reach, but one of the mules that carried the treasure either by accident stepping in, or by order of the king so appointed to go between him and the pursuers, they seized and pilfered the gold, and falling out among themselves about the prey, let slip the great prize. Neither was their greediness prejudicial to Lucullus in this only, but also they slew Callistratus, the king’s confidential attendant, under suspicion of having five hundred pieces of gold in his girdle; whereas Lucullus had specially ordered that he should be conveyed safe into the camp. Notwithstanding all which, he gave them leave to plunder the camp.
After this, in Cabira, and other strong-holds which he took, he found great treasures, and private prisons, in which many Greeks and many of the king’s relations had been confined, who, having long since counted themselves no other than dead men, by the favor of Lucullus, met not with relief so truly as with a new life and second birth. Nyssa, also, sister of Mithridates, enjoyed the like fortunate captivity; while those who seemed to be most out of danger, his wives and sisters at Phernacia, placed in safety, as they thought, miserably perished, Mithridates in his flight sending Bacchides the eunuch to them. Among others there were two sisters of the king, Roxana and Statira, unmarried women forty years old, and two Ionian wives, Berenice of Chios, and Monime of Miletus. This latter was the most celebrated among the Greeks, because she so long withstood the king in his courtship to her, though he presented her with fifteen thousand pieces of gold, until a covenant of marriage was made, and a crown was sent her, and she was saluted queen. She had been a sorrowful woman before, and often bewailed her beauty, that had procured her a keeper, instead of a husband, and a watch of barbarians, instead of the home and attendance of a wife; and, removed far from Greece, she enjoyed the pleasure which she proposed to herself, only in a dream, being in the meantime robbed of that which is real. And when Bacchides came and bade them prepare for death, as everyone thought most easy and painless, she took the diadem from her head, and fastening the string to her neck, suspended herself with it; which soon breaking, “O wretched headband!” said she, “not able to help me even in this small thing!” And throwing it away she spat on it, and offered her throat to Bacchides. Berenice had prepared a potion for herself, but at her mother’s entreaty, who stood by, she gave her part of it. Both drank of the potion, which prevailed over the weaker body. But Berenice, having drunk too little, was not released by it, but lingering on unable to die, was strangled by Bacchides for haste. It is said that one of the unmarried sisters drank the poison, with bitter execrations and curses; but Statira uttered nothing ungentle or reproachful, but, on the contrary, commended her brother, who in his own danger neglected not theirs, but carefully provided that they might go out of the world without shame or disgrace.
Lucullus, being a good and humane man, was concerned at these things. However, going on he came to Talaura, from whence four days before his arrival Mithridates had fled, and was got to Tigranes in Armenia. He turned off, therefore, and subdued the Chaldeans and Tibarenians, with the lesser Armenia, and having reduced all their forts and cities, he sent Appius to Tigranes to demand Mithridates. He himself went to Amisus, which still held out under the command of Callimachus, who, by his great engineering skill, and his dexterity at all the shifts and subtleties of a siege, had greatly incommoded the Romans. For which afterward he paid dear enough, and was now out-maneuvered by Lucullus, who, unexpectedly coming upon him at the time of the day when the soldiers used to withdraw and rest themselves, gained part of the wall, and forced him to leave the city, in doing which he fired it; either envying the Romans the booty, or to secure his own escape the better. No man looked after those who went off in the ships, but as soon as the fire had seized on most part of the wall, the soldiers prepared themselves for plunder; while Lucullus, pitying the ruin of the city, brought assistance from without, and encouraged his men to extinguish the flames. But all, being intent upon the prey, and giving no heed to him, with loud outcries beat and clashed their arms together, until he was compelled to let them plunder, that by that means he might at least save the city from fire. But they did quite the contrary, for in searching the houses with lights and torches everywhere, they were themselves the cause of the destruction of most of the buildings, insomuch that when Lucullus the next day went in, he shed tears, and said to his friends, that he had often before blessed the fortune of Sylla but never so much admired it as then, because when he was willing, he was also able to save Athens, “but my infelicity is such, that while I endeavor to imitate him, I become like Mummius.” Nevertheless, he endeavored to save as much of the city as he could, and at the same time, also, by a happy providence, a fall of rain concurred to extinguish the fire. He himself while present repaired the ruins as much as he could, receiving back the inhabitants who had fled, and settling as many other Greeks as were willing to live there, adding a hundred and twenty furlongs of ground to the place.
This city was a colony of Athens, built at that time when she flourished and was powerful at sea, upon which account many who fled from Aristion’s tyranny settled here, and were admitted as citizens, but had the ill-luck to fly from evils at home, into greater abroad. As many of these as survived, Lucullus furnished every one with clothes, and two hundred drachmas, and sent them away into their own country. On this occasion, Tyrannion the grammarian was taken. Murena begged him of Lucullus, and took him and made him a freedman; but in this he abused Lucullus’s favor, who by no means liked that a man of high repute for learning should be first made a slave, and then freed; for freedom thus speciously granted again, was a real deprivation of what he had before. But not in this case alone Murena showed himself far inferior in generosity to the general. Lucullus was now busy in looking after the cities of Asia, and having no war to divert his time, spent it in the administration of law and justice, the want of which had for a long time left the province a prey to unspeakable and incredible miseries; so plundered and enslaved by tax-farmers and usurers, that private people were compelled to sell their sons in the flower of their youth, and their daughters in their virginity, and the States publicly to sell their consecrated gifts, pictures, and statues. In the end their lot was to yield themselves up slaves to their creditors, but before this, worse troubles befell them, tortures, inflicted with ropes and by horses, standing abroad to be scorched when the sun was hot, and being driven into ice and clay in the cold; insomuch that slavery was no less than a redemption and joy to them. Lucullus in a short time freed the cities from all these evils and oppressions; for, first of all, he ordered there should be no more taken than one percent. Secondly, where the interest exceeded the principal, he struck it off. The third, and most considerable order was, that the creditor should receive the fourth part of the debtor’s income; but if any lender had added the interest to the principal, it was utterly disallowed. Insomuch, that in the space of four years all debts were paid, and lands returned to their right owners. The public debt was contracted when Asia was fined twenty thousand talents by Sylla, but twice as much was paid to the collectors, who by their usury had by this time advanced it to a hundred and twenty thousand talents. And accordingly they inveighed against Lucullus at Rome, as grossly injured by him, and by their money’s help, (as, indeed, they were very powerful, and had many of the statesmen in their debt,) they stirred up several leading men against him. But Lucullus was not only beloved by the cities which he obliged, but was also wished for by other provinces, who blessed the good-luck of those who had such a governor over them.
Appius Clodius, who was sent to Tigranes, (the same Clodius was brother to Lucullus’s wife,) being led by the king’s guides, a roundabout way, unnecessarily long and tedious, through the upper country, being informed by his freedman, a Syrian by nation, of the direct road, left that lengthy and fallacious one; and bidding the barbarians, his guides, adieu, in a few days passed over Euphrates, and came to Antioch upon Daphne. There being commanded to wait for Tigranes, who at that time was reducing some towns in Phoenicia, he won over many chiefs to his side, who unwillingly submitted to the king of Armenia, among whom was Zarbienus, king of the Gordyenians; also many of the conquered cities corresponded privately with him, whom he assured of relief from Lucullus, but ordered them to lie still at present. The Armenian government was an oppressive one, and intolerable to the Greeks, especially that of the present king, who, growing insolent and overbearing with his success, imagined all things valuable and esteemed among men not only were his in fact, but had been purposely created for him alone. From a small and inconsiderable beginning, he had gone on to be the conqueror of many nations, had humbled the Parthian power more than any before him, and filled Mesopotamia with Greeks, whom he carried in numbers out of Cilicia and Cappadocia. He transplanted also the Arabs, who lived in tents, from their country and home, and settled them near him, that by their means he might carry on the trade.
He had many kings waiting on him, but four he always carried with him as servants and guards, who, when he rode, ran by his horse’s side in ordinary under-frocks, and attended him, when sitting on his throne, and publishing his decrees to the people, with their hands folded together; which posture of all others was that which most expressed slavery, it being that of men who had bidden adieu to liberty, and had prepared their bodies more for chastisement, than the service of their masters. Appius, nothing dismayed or surprised at this theatrical display, as soon as audience was granted him, said he came to demand Mithridates for Lucullus’s triumph, otherwise to denounce war against Tigranes, insomuch that though Tigranes endeavored to receive him with a smooth countenance and a forced smile, he could not dissemble his discomposure to those who stood about him, at the bold language of the young man; for it was the first time, perhaps, in twenty-five years, the length of his reign, or, more truly, of his tyranny, that any free speech had been uttered to him. However, he made answer to Appius, that he would not desert Mithridates, and would defend himself, if the Romans attacked him. He was angry, also, with Lucullus for calling him only king in his letter, and not king of kings, and, in his answer, would not give him his title of imperator. Great gifts were sent to Appius, which he refused; but on their being sent again and augmented, that he might not seem to refuse in anger, he took one goblet and sent the rest back, and without delay went off to the general.
Tigranes before this neither vouchsafed to see nor speak with Mithridates, though a near kinsman, and forced out of so considerable a kingdom, but proudly and scornfully kept him at a distance, as a sort of prisoner, in a marshy and unhealthy district; but now, with much profession of respect and kindness, he sent for him, and at a private conference between them in the palace, they healed up all private jealousies between them, punishing their favorites, who bore all the blame; among whom Metrodorus of Scepsis was one, an eloquent and learned man, and so close an intimate as commonly to be called the king’s father. This man, as it happened, being employed in an embassy by Mithridates to solicit help against the Romans, Tigranes asked him, “what would you, Metrodorus, advise me to in this affair?” In return to which, either out of good-will to Tigranes, or a want of solicitude for Mithridates, he made answer, that as ambassador he counseled him to it, but as a friend dissuaded him from it. This Tigranes reported, and affirmed to Mithridates, thinking that no irreparable harm would come of it to Metrodorus. But upon this he was presently taken off, and Tigranes was sorry for what he had done, though he had not, indeed, been absolutely the cause of his death; yet he had given the fatal turn to the anger of Mithridates, who had privately hated him before, as appeared from his cabinet papers when taken, among which there was an order that Metrodorus should die. Tigranes buried him splendidly, sparing no cost to his dead body, whom he betrayed when alive. In Tigranes’s court died, also, Amphicrates the orator, (if, for the sake of Athens, we may also mention him,) of whom it is told that he left his country and fled to Seleucia, upon the river Tigris, and, being desired to teach logic among them, arrogantly replied, that the dish was too little to hold a dolphin. He, therefore, came to Cleopatra, daughter of Mithridates, and queen to Tigranes, but being accused of misdemeanors, and prohibited all commerce with his countrymen, ended his days by starving himself. He, in like manner, received from Cleopatra an honorable burial, near Sapha, a place so called in that country.
Lucullus, when he had reestablished law and a lasting peace in Asia, did not altogether forget pleasure and mirth, but, during his residence at Ephesus, gratified the cities with sports, festival triumphs, wrestling games and single combats of gladiators. And they, in requital, instituted others, called Lucullean games, in honor to him, thus manifesting their love to him, which was of more value to him than all the honor. But when Appius came to him, and told him he must prepare for war with Tigranes, he went again into Pontus, and, gathering together his army, besieged Sinope, or rather the Cilicians of the king’s side who held it; who thereupon killed a number of the Sinopians, and set the city on fire, and by night endeavored to escape. Which when Lucullus perceived, he entered the city, and killed eight thousand of them who were still left behind; but restored to the inhabitants what was their own, and took special care for the welfare of the city. To which he was chiefly prompted by this vision. One seemed to come to him in his sleep, and say, “Go on a little further, Lucullus, for Autolycus is coming to see thee.” When he arose, he could not imagine what the vision meant. The same day he took the city, and as he was pursuing the Cilicians, who were flying by sea, he saw a statue lying on the shore, which the Cilicians carried so far, but had not time to carry aboard. It was one of the masterpieces of Sthenis. And one told him, that it was the statue of Autolycus, the founder of the city. This Autolycus is reported to have been son to Deimachus, and one of those who, under Hercules, went on the expedition out of Thessaly against the Amazons; from whence in his return with Demoleon and Phlogius, he lost his vessel on a point of the Chersonesus, called Pedalium. He himself, with his companions and their weapons, being saved, came to Sinope, and dispossessed the Syrians there. The Syrians held it, descended from Syrus, as is the story, the son of Apollo, and Sinope the daughter of Asopus. Which as soon as Lucullus heard, he remembered the admonition of Sylla, whose advice it is in his Memoirs, to treat nothing as so certain and so worthy of reliance as an intimation given in dreams.
When it was now told him that Mithridates and Tigranes were just ready to transport their forces into Lycaonia and Cilicia, with the object of entering Asia before him, he wondered much why the Armenian, supposing him to entertain any real intention to fight with the Romans, did not assist Mithridates in his flourishing condition, and join forces when he was fit for service, instead of suffering him to be vanquished and broken in pieces, and now at last beginning the war, when his hopes were grown cold, and throwing himself down headlong with them, who were irrecoverably fallen already. But when Machares, the son of Mithridates, and governor of Bosporus, sent him a crown valued at a thousand pieces of gold, and desired to be enrolled as a friend and confederate of the Romans, he fairly reputed that war at an end, and left Sornatius, his deputy, with six thousand soldiers, to take care of Pontus. He himself with twelve thousand foot, and a little less than three thousand horse, went forth to the second war, advancing, it seemed very plain, with too great and ill-advised speed, into the midst of warlike nations, and many thousands upon thousands of horse, into an unknown extent of country, every way enclosed with deep rivers and mountains, never free from snow; which made the soldiers, already far from orderly, follow him with great unwillingness and opposition. For the same reason, also, the popular leaders at home publicly inveighed and declaimed against him, as one that raised up war after war, not so much for the interest of the republic, as that he himself, being still in commission, might not lay down arms, but go on enriching himself by the public dangers. These men, in the end, effected their purpose. But Lucullus by long journeys came to the Euphrates, where, finding the waters high and rough from the winter, he was much troubled for fear of delay and difficulty while he should procure boats and make a bridge of them. But in the evening the flood beginning to retire, and decreasing all through the night, the next day they saw the river far down within his banks, so much so that the inhabitants, discovering the little islands in the river, and the water stagnating among them, a thing which had rarely happened before, made obeisance to Lucullus, before whom the very river was humble and submissive, and yielded an easy and swift passage. Making use of the opportunity, he carried over his army, and met with a lucky sign at landing. Holy heifers are pastured on purpose for Diana Persia, whom, of all the gods, the barbarians beyond Euphrates chiefly adore. They use these heifers only for her sacrifices. At other times they wander up and down undisturbed, with the mark of the goddess, a torch, branded on them; and it is no such light or easy thing, when occasion requires, to seize one of them. But one of these, when the army had passed the Euphrates, coming to a rock consecrated to the goddess, stood upon it, and then laying down her neck, like others that are forced down with a rope, offered herself to Lucullus for sacrifice. Besides which, he offered also a bull to Euphrates, for his safe passage. That day he tarried there, but on the next, and those that followed, he traveled through Sophene, using no manner of violence to the people who came to him and willingly received his army. And when the soldiers were desirous to plunder a castle that seemed to be well stored within, “That is the castle,” said he, “that we must storm,” showing them Taurus, at a distance; “the rest is reserved for those who conquer there.” Wherefore hastening his march, and passing the Tigris, he came over into Armenia
The first messenger that gave notice of Lucullus’s coming was so far from pleasing Tigranes, that he had his head cut off for his pains; and no man daring to bring further information, without any intelligence at all, Tigranes sat while war was already blazing around him, giving ear only to those who flattered him, by saying that Lucullus would show himself a great commander, if he ventured to wait for Tigranes at Ephesus, and did not at once fly out of Asia, at the mere sight of the many thousands that were come against him. He is a man of a strong body that can carry off a great quantity of wine, and of a powerful constitution of mind that can sustain felicity. Mithrobarzanes, one of his chief favorites, first dared to tell him the truth, but had no more thanks for his freedom of speech, than to be immediately sent out against Lucullus with three thousand horse, and a great number of foot, with peremptory commands to bring him alive, and trample down his army. Some of Lucullus’s men were then pitching their camp, and the rest were coming up to them, when the scouts gave notice that the enemy was approaching, whereupon he was in fear lest they should fall upon him, while his men were divided and unarranged; which made him stay to pitch the camp himself, and send out Sextilius, the legate, with sixteen hundred horse, and about as many heavy and light arms, with orders to advance towards the enemy, and wait until intelligence came to him that the camp was finished. Sextilius designed to have kept this order; but Mithrobarzanes coming furiously upon him, he was forced to fight. In the engagement, Mithrobarzanes himself was slain, fighting, and all his men, except a few who ran away, were destroyed. After this Tigranes left Tigranocerta, a great city built by himself, and retired to Taurus, and called all his forces about him.
But Lucullus, giving him no time to rendezvous, sent out Murena to harass and cut off those who marched to Tigranes, and Sextilius, also, to disperse a great company of Arabians then on the way to the king. Sextilius fell upon the Arabians in their camp, and destroyed most of them, and also Murena, in his pursuit after Tigranes through a craggy and narrow pass, opportunely fell upon him. Upon which Tigranes, abandoning all his baggage, fled; many of the Armenians were killed, and more taken. After this success, Lucullus went to Tigranocerta, and sitting down before the city, besieged it. In it were many Greeks carried away out of Cilicia, and many barbarians in like circumstances with the Greeks, Adiabenians, Assyrians, Gordyenians, and Cappadocians, whose native cities he had destroyed, and forced away the inhabitants to settle here. It was a rich and beautiful city; every common man, and every man of rank, in imitation of the king, studied to enlarge and adorn it. This made Lucullus more vigorously press the siege, in the belief that Tigranes would not patiently endure it, but even against his own judgment would come down in anger to force him away; in which he was not mistaken. Mithridates earnestly dissuaded him from it, sending messengers and letters to him not to engage, but rather with his horse to try and cut off the supplies. Taxiles, also, who came from Mithridates, and who stayed with his army, very much entreated the king to forbear, and to avoid the Roman arms, things it was not safe to meddle with. To this he hearkened at first, but when the Armenians and Gordyenians in a full body, and the whole forces of Medes and Adiabenians, under their respective kings, joined him; when many Arabians came up from the sea beyond Babylon; and from the Caspian sea, the Albanians and the Iberians their neighbors, and not a few of the free people, without kings, living about the Araxes, by entreaty and hire also came together to him; and all the king’s feasts and councils rang of nothing but expectations, boastings, and barbaric threatenings, Taxiles went in danger of his life, for giving counsel against fighting, and it was imputed to envy in Mithridates thus to discourage him from so glorious an enterprise. Therefore Tigranes would by no means tarry for him, for fear he should share in the glory, but marched on with all his army, lamenting to his friends, as it is said, that he should fight with Lucullus alone, and not with all the Roman generals together. Neither was his boldness to be accounted wholly frantic or unreasonable, when he had so many nations and kings attending him, and so many tens of thousands of well-armed foot and horse about him. He had twenty thousand archers and slingers, fifty-five thousand horse, of which seventeen thousand were in complete armor, as Lucullus wrote to the senate, a hundred and fifty thousand heavy-armed men, drawn up partly into cohorts, partly into phalanxes, besides various divisions of men appointed to make roads and lay bridges, to drain off waters and cut wood, and to perform other necessary services, to the number of thirty-five thousand, who, being quartered behind the army, added to its strength, and made it the more formidable to behold.
As soon as he had passed Taurus, and appeared with his forces, and saw the Romans beleaguering Tigranocerta, the barbarous people within with shoutings and acclamations received the sight, and threatening the Romans from the wall, pointed to the Armenians. In a council of war, some advised Lucullus to leave the siege, and march up to Tigranes, others that it would not be safe to leave the siege, and so many enemies behind. He answered that neither side by itself was right, but together both gave sound advice; and accordingly he divided his army, and left Murena with six thousand foot in charge of the siege, and himself went out with twenty-four cohorts, in which were no more than ten thousand men at arms, and with all the horse, and about a thousand slingers and archers; and sitting down by the river in a large plain, he appeared, indeed, very inconsiderable to Tigranes, and a fit subject for the flattering wits about him. Some of whom jeered, others cast lots for the spoil, and every one of the kings and commanders came and desired to undertake the engagement alone, and that he would be pleased to sit still and behold. Tigranes himself, wishing to be witty and pleasant upon the occasion, made use of the well-known saying, that they were too many for ambassadors, and too few for soldiers. Thus they continued sneering and scoffing. As soon as day came, Lucullus brought out his forces under arms. The barbarian army stood on the eastern side of the river, and there being a bend of the river westward in that part of it, where it was easiest forded, Lucullus, while he led his army on in haste, seemed to Tigranes to be flying; who thereupon called Taxiles, and in derision said, “Do you not see these invincible Romans flying?” But Taxiles replied, “Would, indeed, O king, that some such unlikely piece of fortune might be destined you; but the Romans do not, when going on a march, put on their best clothes, nor use bright shields, and naked headpieces, as now you see them, with the leathern coverings all taken off, but this is a preparation for war of men just ready to engage with their enemies.” While Taxiles was thus speaking, as Lucullus wheeled about, the first eagle appeared, and the cohorts, according to their divisions and companies, formed in order to pass over, when with much ado, and like a man that is just recovering from a drunken fit, Tigranes cried out twice or thrice, “What, are they upon us?” In great confusion, therefore, the army got in array, the king keeping the main body to himself, while the left wing was given in charge to the Adiabenian, and the right to the Mede, in the front of which latter were posted most of the heavy-armed cavalry. Some officers advised Lucullus, just as he was going to cross the river, to lie still, that day being one of the unfortunate ones which they call black days, for on it the army under Caepio, engaging with the Cimbrians, was destroyed. But he returned the famous answer, “I will make it a happy day to the Romans.” It was the day before the nones of October.
Having so said, he bade them take courage, passed over the river, and himself first of all led them against the enemy, clad in a coat of mail, with shining steel scales and a fringed mantle; and his sword might already be seen out of the scabbard, as if to signify that they must without delay come to a hand-to-hand combat with an enemy whose skill was in distant fighting, and by the speed of their advance curtail the space that exposed them to the archery. But when he saw the heavy-armed horse, the flower of the army, drawn up under a hill, on the top of which was a broad and open plain about four furlongs distant, and of no very difficult or troublesome access, he commanded his Thracian and Galatian horse to fall upon their flank, and beat down their lances with their swords. The only defense of these horsemen-at-arms are their lances; they have nothing else that they can use to protect themselves, or annoy their enemy, on account of the weight and stiffness of their armor, with which they are, as it were, built up. He himself, with two cohorts, made to the mountain, the soldiers briskly following, when they saw him in arms afoot first toiling and climbing up. Being on the top and standing in an open place, with a loud voice he cried out, “We have overcome, we have overcome, fellow-soldiers!” And having so said, he marched against the armed horsemen, commanding his men not to throw their javelins, but coming up hand to hand with the enemy, to hack their shins and thighs, which parts alone were unguarded in these heavy-armed horsemen. But there was no need of this way of fighting, for they stood not to receive the Romans, but with great clamor and worse flight they and their heavy horses threw themselves upon the ranks of the foot, before ever these could so much as begin the fight, insomuch that without a wound or bloodshed, so many thousands were overthrown. The greatest slaughter was made in the flight, or rather in the endeavoring to fly away, which they could not well do by reason of the depth and closeness of their own ranks, which hindered them. Tigranes at first fled with a few, but seeing his son in the same misfortune, he took the diadem from his head, and with tears gave it him, bidding him save himself by some other road if he could. But the young man, not daring to put it on, gave it to one of his trustiest servants to keep for him. This man, as it happened, being taken, was brought to Lucullus, and so, among the captives, the crown, also, of Tigranes was taken. It is stated that above a hundred thousand foot were lost, and that of the horse but very few escaped at all. Of the Romans, a hundred were wounded, and five killed. Antiochus the philosopher, making mention of this fight in his book about the gods, says that the sun never saw the like. Strabo, a second philosopher, in his historical collection says, that the Romans could not but blush and deride themselves, for putting on armor against such pitiful slaves. Livy also says, that the Romans never fought an enemy with such unequal forces, for the conquerors were not so much as one twentieth part of the number of the conquered. The most sagacious and experienced Roman commanders made it a chief commendation of Lucullus, that he had conquered two great and potent kings by two most opposite ways, haste and delay. For he wore out the flourishing power of Mithridates by delay and time, and crushed that of Tigranes by haste; being one of the rare examples of generals who made use of delay for active achievement, and speed for security.
On this account it was that Mithridates had made no haste to come up to fight, imagining Lucullus would, as he had done before, use caution and delay, which made him march at his leisure to join Tigranes. And first, as he began to meet some straggling Armenians in the way, making off in great fear and consternation, he suspected the worst, and when greater numbers of stripped and wounded men met him and assured him of the defeat, he set out to seek for Tigranes. And finding him destitute and humiliated, he by no means requited him with insolence, but alighting from his horse, and condoling with him on their common loss, he gave him his own royal guard to attend him, and animated him for the future. And they together gathered fresh forces about them. In the city Tigranocerta, the Greeks meantime, dividing from the barbarians, sought to deliver it up to Lucullus, and he attacked and took it. He seized on the treasure himself, but gave the city to be plundered by the soldiers, in which were found, amongst other property, eight thousand talents of coined money. Besides this, also, he distributed eight hundred drachmas to each man, out of the spoils. When he understood that many players were taken in the city, whom Tigranes had invited from all parts for opening the theater which he had built, he made use of them for celebrating his triumphal games and spectacles. The Greeks he sent home, allowing them money for their journey, and the barbarians also, as many as had been forced away from their own dwellings. So that by this one city being dissolved, many, by the restitution of their former inhabitants, were restored. By all of which Lucullus was beloved as a benefactor and founder. Other successes, also, attended him, such as he well deserved, desirous as he was far more of praise for acts of justice and clemency, than for feats in war, these being due partly to the soldiers, and very greatly to fortune, while those are the sure proofs of a gentle and liberal soul; and by such aids Lucullus, at that time, even without the help of arms, succeeded in reducing the barbarians. For the kings of the Arabians came to him, tendering what they had, and with them the Sophenians also submitted. And he so dealt with the Gordyenians, that they were willing to leave their own habitations, and to follow him with their wives and children. Which was for this cause. Zarbienus, king of the Gordyenians, as has been told, being impatient under the tyranny of Tigranes, had by Appius secretly made overtures of confederacy with Lucullus, but, being discovered, was executed, and his wife and children with him, before the Romans entered Armenia. Lucullus forgot not this, but coming to the Gordyenians made a solemn interment in honor of Zarbienus, and adorning the funeral pile with royal robes, and gold, and the spoils of Tigranes, he himself in person kindled the fire, and poured in perfumes with the friends and relations of the deceased, calling him his companion and the confederate of the Romans. He ordered, also, a costly monument to be built for him. There was a large treasure of gold and silver found in Zarbienus’s palace, and no less than three million measures of corn, so that the soldiers were provided for, and Lucullus had the high commendation of maintaining the war at its own charge, without receiving one drachma from the public treasury.
After this came an embassy from the king of Parthia to him, desiring amity and confederacy; which being readily embraced by Lucullus, another was sent by him in return to the Parthian, the members of which discovered him to be a double-minded man, and to be dealing privately at the same time with Tigranes, offering to take part with him, upon condition Mesopotamia were delivered up to him. Which as soon as Lucullus understood, he resolved to pass by Tigranes and Mithridates as antagonists already overcome, and to try the power of Parthia, by leading his army against them, thinking it would be a glorious result, thus in one current of war, like an athlete in the games, to throw down three kings one after another, and successively to deal as a conqueror with three of the greatest powers under heaven. He sent, therefore, into Pontus to Sornatius and his colleagues, bidding them bring the army thence, and join with him in his expedition out of Gordyene. The soldiers there, however, who had been restive and unruly before, now openly displayed their mutinous temper. No manner of entreaty or force availed with them, but they protested and cried out that they would stay no longer even there, but would go away and desert Pontus. The news of which, when reported to Lucullus, did no small harm to the soldiers about him, who were already corrupted with wealth and plenty, and desirous of ease. And on hearing the boldness of the others, they called them men, and declared they themselves ought to follow their example, for the actions which they had done did now well deserve release from service, and repose.
Upon these and worse words, Lucullus gave up the thoughts of invading Parthia, and in the height of summertime, went against Tigranes. Passing over Taurus, he was filled with apprehension at the greenness of the fields before him, so long is the season deferred in this region by the coldness of the air. But, nevertheless, he went down, and twice or thrice putting to flight the Armenians who dared to come out against him, he plundered and burnt their villages, and seizing on the provision designed for Tigranes, reduced his enemies to the necessity which he had feared for himself. But when, after doing all he could to provoke the enemy to fight, by drawing entrenchments round their camp and by burning the country before them, he could by no means bring them to venture out, after their frequent defeats before, he rose up and marched to Artaxata, the royal city of Tigranes, where his wives and young children were kept, judging that Tigranes would never suffer that to go without the hazard of a battle. It is related that Hannibal, the Carthaginian, after the defeat of Antiochus by the Romans, coming to Artaxas, king of Armenia, pointed out to him many other matters to his advantage, and observing the great natural capacities and the pleasantness of the site, then lying unoccupied and neglected, drew a model of a city for it, and bringing Artaxas thither, showed it to him and encouraged him to build. At which the king being pleased, and desiring him to oversee the work, erected a large and stately city, which was called after his own name, and made metropolis of Armenia.
And in fact, when Lucullus proceeded against it, Tigranes no longer suffered it, but came with his army, and on the fourth day sat down by the Romans, the river Arsanias lying between them, which of necessity Lucullus must pass in his march to Artaxata. Lucullus, after sacrifice to the gods, as if victory were already obtained, carried over his army, having twelve cohorts in the first division in front, the rest being disposed in the rear to prevent the enemy’s enclosing them. For there were many choice horse drawn up against him; in the front stood the Mardian horse-archers, and Iberians with long spears, in whom, being the most warlike, Tigranes more confided than in any other of his foreign troops. But nothing of moment was done by them, for though they skirmished with the Roman horse at a distance, they were not able to stand when the foot came up to them; but being broken, and flying on both sides, drew the horse in pursuit after them. Though these were routed, yet Lucullus was not without alarm when he saw the cavalry about Tigranes with great bravery and in large numbers coming upon him; he recalled his horse from pursuing, and he himself, first of all, with the best of his men, engaged the Satrapenians who were opposite him, and before ever they came to close fight, routed them with the mere terror. Of three kings in battle against him, Mithridates of Pontus fled away the most shamefully, being not so much as able to endure the shout of the Romans. The pursuit reached a long way, and all through the night the Romans slew and took prisoners, and carried off spoils and treasure, till they were weary. Livy says there were more taken and destroyed in the first battle, but in the second, men of greater distinction.
Lucullus, flushed and animated by this victory, determined to march on into the interior and there complete his conquests over the barbarians; but winter weather came on, contrary to expectation, as early as the autumnal equinox, with storms and frequent snows and, even in the most clear days, hoar frost and ice, which made the waters scarcely drinkable for the horses by their exceeding coldness, and scarcely passable through the ice breaking and cutting the horses’ sinews. The country for the most part being quite uncleared, with difficult passes, and much wood, kept them continually wet, the snow falling thickly on them as they marched in the day, and the ground that they lay upon at night being damp and watery. After the battle they followed Lucullus not many days before they began to be refractory, first of all entreating and sending the tribunes to him, but presently they tumultuously gathered together, and made a shouting all night long in their tents, a plain sign of a mutinous army. But Lucullus as earnestly entreated them, desiring them to have patience but till they took the Armenian Carthage, and overturned the work of their great enemy, meaning Hannibal. But when he could not prevail, he led them back, and crossing Taurus by another road, came into the fruitful and sunny country of Mygdonia, where was a great and populous city, by the barbarians called Nisibis, by the Greeks Antioch of Mygdonia. This was defended by Guras, brother of Tigranes, with the dignity of governor, and by the engineering skill and dexterity of Callimachus, the same who so much annoyed the Romans at Amisus. Lucullus, however, brought his army up to it, and laying close siege in a short time took it by storm. He used Guras, who surrendered himself, kindly, but gave no attention to Callimachus, though he offered to make discovery of hidden treasures, commanding him to be kept in chains, to be punished for firing the city of Amisus, which had disappointed his ambition of showing favor and kindness to the Greeks.
Hitherto, one would imagine fortune had attended and fought with Lucullus, but afterward, as if the wind had failed of a sudden, he did all things by force, and, as it were, against the grain; and showed certainly the conduct and patience of a wise captain, but in the result met with no fresh honor or reputation; and, indeed, by bad success and vain embarrassments with his soldiers, he came within a little of losing even what he had before. He himself was not the least cause of all this, being far from inclined to seek popularity with the mass of the soldiers, and more ready to think any indulgence shown to them an invasion of his own authority. But what was worst of all, he was naturally unsociable to his great officers in commission with him, despising others and thinking them worthy of nothing in comparison with himself. These faults, we are told, he had with all his many excellences; he was of a large and noble person, an eloquent speaker and a wise counselor, both in the forum and the camp. Sallust says, the soldiers were ill affected to him from the beginning of the war, because they were forced to keep the field two winters at Cyzicus, and afterwards at Amisus. Their other winters, also, vexed them, for they either spent them in an enemy’s country, or else were confined to their tents in the open field among their confederates; for Lucullus not so much as once went into a Greek confederate town with his army. To this ill affection abroad, the tribunes yet more contributed at home, invidiously accusing Lucullus, as one who for empire and riches prolonged the war, holding, it might almost be said, under his sole power Cilicia, Asia, Bithynia, Paphlagonia, Pontus, Armenia, all as far as the river Phasis; and now of late had plundered the royal city of Tigranes, as if he had been commissioned not so much to subdue, as to strip kings. This is what we are told was said by Lucius Quintius, one of the praetors, at whose instance, in particular, the people determined to send one who should succeed Lucullus in his province, and voted, also, to relieve many of the soldiers under him from further service.
Besides these evils, that which most of all prejudiced Lucullus, was Publius Clodius, an insolent man, very vicious and bold, brother to Lucullus’s wife, a woman of bad conduct, with whom Clodius was himself suspected of criminal intercourse. Being then in the army under Lucullus, but not in as great authority as he expected, (for he would fain have been the chief of all, but on account of his character was postponed to many,) he ingratiated himself secretly with the Fimbrian troops, and stirred them up against Lucullus, using fair speeches to them, who of old had been used to be flattered in such manner. These were those whom Fimbria before had persuaded to kill the consul Flaccus, and choose him their leader. And so they listened not unwillingly to Clodius, and called him the soldiers’ friend, for the concern he professed for them, and the indignation he expressed at the prospect that “there must be no end of war and toils, but in fighting with all nations, and wandering throughout all the world they must wear out their lives, receiving no other reward for their service than to guard the carriages and camels of Lucullus, laden with gold and precious goblets; while as for Pompey’s soldiers, they were all citizens, living safe at home with their wives and children, on fertile lands, or in towns, and that, not after driving Mithridates and Tigranes into wild deserts, and overturning the royal cities of Asia, but after having merely reduced exiles in Spain, or fugitive slaves in Italy. Nay, if indeed we must never have an end of fighting, should we not rather reserve the remainder of our bodies and souls for a general who will reckon his chiefest glory to be the wealth of his soldiers.”
By such practices the army of Lucullus being corrupted, neither followed him against Tigranes, nor against Mithridates, when he now at once returned into Pontus out of Armenia, and was recovering his kingdom, but under presence of the winter, sat idle in Gordyene, every minute expecting either Pompey, or some other general, to succeed Lucullus. But when news came that Mithridates had defeated Fabius, and was marching against Sornatius and Triarius, out of shame they followed Lucullus. Triarius, ambitiously aiming at victory, before ever Lucullus came to him, though he was then very near, was defeated in a great battle, in which it is said that above seven thousand Romans fell, among whom were a hundred and fifty centurions, and four and twenty tribunes, and that the camp itself was taken. Lucullus, coming up a few days after, concealed Triarius from the search of the angry soldiers. But when Mithridates declined battle, and waited for the coming of Tigranes, who was then on his march with great forces, he resolved before they joined their forces to turn once more and engage with Tigranes. But in the way the mutinous Fimbrians deserted their ranks, professing themselves released from service by a decree, and that Lucullus, the provinces being allotted to others, had no longer any right to command them. There was nothing beneath the dignity of Lucullus which he did not now submit to bear, entreating them one by one, from tent to tent, going up and down humbly and in tears, and even taking some like a suppliant, by the hand. But they turned away from his salutes, and threw down their empty purses, bidding him engage alone with the enemy, as he alone made advantage of it. At length, by the entreaty of the other soldiers, the Fimbrians, being prevailed upon, consented to tarry that summer under him, but if during that time no enemy came to fight them, to be free. Lucullus of necessity was forced to comply with this, or else to abandon the country to the barbarians. He kept them, indeed, with him, but without urging his authority upon them; nor did he lead them out to battle, being contented if they would but stay with him, though he then saw Cappadocia wasted by Tigranes, and Mithridates again triumphing, whom not long before he reported to the senate to be wholly subdued; and commissioners were now arrived to settle the affairs of Pontus, as if all had been quietly in his possession. But when they came, they found him not so much as master of himself, but contemned and derided by the common soldiers, who arrived at that height of insolence against their general, that at the end of summer they put on their armor and drew their swords, and defied their enemies then absent and gone off a long while before, and with great outcries and waving their swords in the air, they quitted the camp, proclaiming that the time was expired which they promised to stay with Lucullus. The rest were summoned by letters from Pompey to come and join him; he, by the favor of the people and by flattery of their leaders, having been chosen general of the army against Mithridates and Tigranes, though the senate and the nobility all thought that Lucullus was injured, having those put over his head who succeeded rather to his triumph, than to his commission, and that he was not so truly deprived of his command, as of the glory he had deserved in his command, which he was forced to yield to another.
It was yet more of just matter of pity and indignation to those who were present; for Lucullus remained no longer master of rewards or punishments for any actions done in the war; neither would Pompey suffer any man to go to him, or pay any respect to the orders and arrangements he made with advice of his ten commissioners, but expressly issued edicts to the contrary, and could not but be obeyed by reason of his greater power. Friends, however, on both sides, thought it desirable to bring them together, and they met in a village of Galatia and saluted each other in a friendly manner, with congratulations on each other’s successes. Lucullus was the elder, but Pompey the more distinguished by his more numerous commands and his two triumphs. Both had rods dressed with laurel carried before them for their victories. And as Pompey’s laurels were withered with passing through hot and droughty countries, Lucullus’s lictors courteously gave Pompey’s some of the fresh and green ones which they had, which Pompey’s friends counted a good omen, as indeed of a truth, Lucullus’s actions furnished the honors of Pompey’s command. The interview, however, did not bring them to any amicable agreement; they parted even less friends than they met. Pompey repealed all the acts of Lucullus, drew off his soldiers, and left him no more than sixteen hundred for his triumph, and even those unwilling to go with him. So wanting was Lucullus, either through natural constitution or adverse circumstances, in that one first and most important requisite of a general, which had he but added to his other many and remarkable virtues, his fortitude, vigilance, wisdom, justice, the Roman empire had not had Euphrates for its boundary, but the utmost ends of Asia and the Hyrcanian sea; as other nations were then disabled by the late conquests of Tigranes, and the power of Parthia had not in Lucullus’s time shown itself so formidable as Crassus afterwards found it, nor had as yet gained that consistency, being crippled by wars at home, and on its frontiers, and unable even to make head against the encroachments of the Armenians. And Lucullus, as it was, seems to me through others’ agency to have done Rome greater harm, than he did her advantage by his own. For the trophies in Armenia, near the Parthian frontier, and Tigranocerta, and Nisibis, and the great wealth brought from thence to Rome, with the captive crown of Tigranes carried in triumph, all helped to puff up Crassus, as if the barbarians had been nothing else but spoil and booty, and he, falling among the Parthian archers, soon demonstrated that Lucullus’s triumphs were not beholden to the inadvertency and effeminacy of his enemies, but to his own courage and conduct. But of this afterwards.
Lucullus, upon his return to Rome, found his brother Marcus accused by Caius Memmius, for his acts as quaestor, done by Sylla’s orders; and on his acquittal, Memmius changed the scene, and animated the people against Lucullus himself, urging them to deny him a triumph for appropriating the spoils and prolonging the war. In this great struggle, the nobility and chief men went down and mingling in person among the tribes, with much entreaty and labor, scarce at length prevailed upon them to consent to his triumph. The pomp of which proved not so wonderful or so wearisome with the length of the procession and the number of things carried in it, but consisted chiefly in vast quantities of arms and machines of the king’s, with which he adorned the Flaminian circus, a spectacle by no means despicable. In his progress there passed by a few horsemen in heavy armor, ten chariots armed with scythes, sixty friends and officers of the king’s, and a hundred and ten brazen-beaked ships of war, which were conveyed along with them, a golden image of Mithridates six feet high, a shield set with precious stones, twenty loads of silver vessels, and thirty-two of golden cups, armor, and money, all carried by men. Besides which, eight mules were laden with golden couches, fifty-six with bullion, and a hundred and seven with coined silver, little less than two millions seven hundred thousand pieces. There were tablets, also, with inscriptions, stating what moneys he gave Pompey for prosecuting the piratic war, what he delivered into the treasury, and what he gave to every soldier, which was nine hundred and fifty drachmas each. After all which he nobly feasted the city and adjoining villages, or vici.
Being divorced from Clodia, a dissolute and wicked woman, he married Servilia, sister to Cato. This also proved an unfortunate match, for she only wanted one of all Clodia’s vices, the criminality she was accused of with her brothers. Out of reverence to Cato, he for a while connived at her impurity and immodesty, but at length dismissed her. When the senate expected great things from him, hoping to find in him a check to the usurpations of Pompey, and that with the greatness of his station and credit he would come forward as the champion of the nobility, he retired from business and abandoned public life; either because he saw the State to be in a difficult and diseased condition, or, as others say, because he was as great as he could well be, and inclined to a quiet and easy life, after those many labors and toils which had ended with him so far from fortunately. There are those who highly commend his change of life, saying that he thus avoided that rock on which Marius split. For he, after the great and glorious deeds of his Cimbrian victories, was not contented to retire upon his honors, but out of an insatiable desire of glory and power, even in his old age, headed a political party against young men, and let himself fall into miserable actions, and yet more miserable sufferings. Better, in like manner, they say, had it been for Cicero, after Catiline’s conspiracy, to have retired and grown old, and for Scipio, after his Numantine and Carthaginian conquests, to have sat down contented. For the administration of public affairs has, like other things, its proper term, and statesmen as well as wrestlers will break down, when strength and youth fail. But Crassus and Pompey, on the other hand, laughed to see Lucullus abandoning himself to pleasure and expense, as if luxurious living were not a thing that as little became his years, as government of affairs at home, or of an army abroad.
And, indeed, Lucullus’s life, like the Old Comedy, presents us at the commencement with acts of policy and of war, at the end offering nothing but good eating and drinking, feastings and revellings, and mere play. For I give no higher name to his sumptuous buildings, porticoes and baths, still less to his paintings and sculptures, and all his industry about these curiosities, which he collected with vast expense, lavishly bestowing all the wealth and treasure which he got in the war upon them, insomuch that even now, with all the advance of luxury, the Lucullean gardens are counted the noblest the emperor has. Tubero the stoic, when he saw his buildings at Naples, where he suspended the hills upon vast tunnels, brought in the sea for moats and fish-ponds round his house, and built pleasure-houses in the waters, called him Xerxes in a gown. He had also fine seats in Tusculum, belvederes, and large open balconies for men’s apartments, and porticoes to walk in, where Pompey coming to see him, blamed him for making a house which would be pleasant in summer but uninhabitable in winter; whom he answered with a smile, “You think me, then, less provident than cranes and storks, not to change my home with the season.” When a praetor, with great expense and pains, was preparing a spectacle for the people, and asked him to lend him some purple robes for the performers in a chorus, he told him he would go home and see, and if he had got any, would let him have them; and the next day asking how many he wanted, and being told that a hundred would suffice, bade him to take twice as many: on which the poet Horace observes, that a house is but a poor one, where the valuables unseen and unthought of do not exceed all those that meet the eye.
Lucullus’s daily entertainments were ostentatiously extravagant, not only with purple coverlets, and plate adorned with precious stones, and dancings, and interludes, but with the greatest diversity of dishes and the most elaborate cookery, for the vulgar to admire and envy. It was a happy thought of Pompey in his sickness, when his physician prescribed a thrush for his dinner, and his servants told him that in summer time thrushes were not to be found anywhere but in Lucullus’s fattening coops, that he would not suffer them to fetch one thence, but observing to his physician, “So if Lucullus had not been an epicure, Pompey had not lived,” ordered something else that could easily be got to be prepared for him. Cato was his friend and connection, but, nevertheless, so hated his life and habits, that when a young man in the senate made a long and tedious speech in praise of frugality and temperance, Cato got up and said, “How long do you mean to go on making money like Crassus, living like Lucullus, and talking like Cato?” There are some, however, who say the words were said, but not by Cato.
It is plain from the anecdotes on record of him, that Lucullus was not only pleased with, but even gloried in his way of living. For he is said to have feasted several Greeks upon their coming to Rome day after day, who, out of a true Grecian principle, being ashamed, and declining the invitation, where so great an expense was every day incurred for them, he with a smile told them, “Some of this, indeed, my Grecian friends, is for your sakes, but more for that of Lucullus.” Once when he supped alone, there being only one course, and that but moderately furnished, he called his steward and reproved him, who, professing to have supposed that there would be no need of any great entertainment, when nobody was invited, was answered, “What, did not you know, then, that to-day Lucullus dines with Lucullus?” Which being much spoken of about the city, Cicero and Pompey one day met him loitering in the forum, the former his intimate friend and familiar, and, though there had been some ill-will between Pompey and him about the command in the war, still they used to see each other and converse on easy terms together. Cicero accordingly saluted him, and asked him whether to-day were a good time for asking a favor of him, and on his answering, “Very much so,” and begging to hear what it was, “Then,” said Cicero, “we should like to dine with you today, just on the dinner that is prepared for yourself.” Lucullus being surprised, and requesting a day’s time, they refused to grant it, neither suffered him to talk with his servants, for fear he should give order for more than was appointed before. But thus much they consented to, that before their faces he might tell his servant, that to-day he would sup in the Apollo, (for so one of his best dining-rooms was called,) and by this evasion he outwitted his guests. For every room, as it seems, had its own assessment of expenditure, dinner at such a price, and all else in accordance; so that the servants, on knowing where he would dine, knew also how much was to be expended, and in what style and form dinner was to be served. The expense for the Apollo was fifty thousand drachmas, and thus much being that day laid out, the greatness of the cost did not so much amaze Pompey and Cicero, as the rapidity of the outlay. One might believe Lucullus thought his money really captive and barbarian, so wantonly and contumeliously did he treat it.
His furnishing a library, however, deserves praise and record, for he collected very many and choice manuscripts; and the use they were put to was even more magnificent than the purchase, the library being always open, and the walks and reading-rooms about it free to all Greeks, whose delight it was to leave their other occupations and hasten thither as to the habitation of the Muses, there walking about, and diverting one another. He himself often passed his hours there, disputing with the learned in the walks, and giving his advice to statesmen who required it, insomuch that his house was altogether a home, and in a manner a Greek prytaneum for those that visited Rome. He was fond of all sorts of philosophy, and was well-read and expert in them all. But he always from the first specially favored and valued the Academy; not the New one which at that time under Philo flourished with the precepts of Carneades, but the Old one, then sustained and represented by Antiochus of Ascalon, a learned and eloquent man. Lucullus with great labor made him his friend and companion, and set him up against Philo’s auditors, among whom Cicero was one, who wrote an admirable treatise in defense of his sect, in which he puts the argument in favor of comprehension in the mouth of Lucullus, and the opposite argument in his own. The book is called Lucullus. For as has been said, they were great friends, and took the same side in politics. For Lucullus did not wholly retire from the republic, but only from ambition, and from the dangerous and often lawless struggle for political preeminence, which he left to Crassus and Cato, whom the senators, jealous of Pompey’s greatness, put forward as their champions, when Lucullus refused to head them. For his friends’ sake he came into the forum and into the senate, when occasion offered to humble the ambition and pride of Pompey, whose settlement, after his conquests over the kings, he got canceled, and by the assistance of Cato, hindered a division of lands to his soldiers, which he proposed. So Pompey went over to Crassus and Caesar’s alliance, or rather conspiracy, and filling the city with armed men, procured the ratification of his decrees by force, and drove Cato and Lucullus out of the forum. Which being resented by the nobility, Pompey’s party produced one Vettius, pretending they apprehended him in a design against Pompey’s life. Who in the senate-house accused others, but before the people named Lucullus, as if he had been suborned by him to kill Pompey. Nobody gave heed to what he said, and it soon appeared that they had put him forward to make false charges and accusations. And after a few days the whole intrigue became yet more obvious, when the dead body of Vettius was thrown out of the prison, he being reported, indeed, to have died a natural death, but carrying marks of a halter and blows about him, and seeming rather to have been taken off by those who suborned him. These things kept Lucullus at a greater distance from the republic.
But when Cicero was banished the city, and Cato sent to Cyprus, he quitted public affairs altogether. It is said, too, that before his death, his intellects failed him by degrees. But Cornelius Nepos denies that either age or sickness impaired his mind, which was rather affected by a potion, given him by Callisthenes his freedman. The potion was meant by Callisthenes to strengthen his affection for him, and was supposed to have that tendency but it acted quite otherwise, and so disabled and unsettled his mind, that while he was yet alive, his brother took charge of his affairs. At his death, as though it had been the death of one taken off in the very height of military and civil glory, the people were much concerned, and flocked together, and would have forcibly taken his corpse, as it was carried into the market-place by young men of the highest rank, and have buried it in the field of Mars, where they buried Sylla. Which being altogether unexpected, and necessaries not easily to be procured on a sudden, his brother, after much entreaty and solicitation, prevailed upon them to suffer him to be buried on his Tusculan estate as had been appointed. He himself survived him but a short time, coming not far behind in death, as he did in age and renown, in all respects, a most loving brother.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59