Lucius Liciuius Lucullus, a Roman general, born about 109 B. 0., died about 57. His first appearance in public life was as the accuser of the augur Servilius, who had procured the banishment of his father. This prosecution, though unsuccessful, and leading to scenes of violence and blood, was yet deemed highly creditable to the young Lucullus. He served in the social war, and afterward accompanied Sulla to Greece and Asia as qua3stor, on the outbreak of the first Mithridatic war in 88. During the siege of Athens, Lucullus, in obedience to the orders of Sulla, collected a naval force from the allies of Rome, with which he defeated the fleet of Mithridates off the coast of Tenedos. After the conclusion of peace with the king of Pontus he was appointed to collect from the cities of Asia the tribute which Sulla had imposed on them as a punishment for their recent revolt. In the discharge of this duty Lucullus displayed the utmost humanity and kindness. In 80 he returned to Rome to fill the office of curule aedile, to which he had been elected in his absence, together with his younger brother Marcus. The games exhibited by the Luculii during their aedileship were remarkable for their magnificence, and for being the first at which combats of elephants and bulls were introduced.
The elder brother was so highly esteemed by Sulla that the ex-dictator confided to him the revision and correction of his Commentaries, appointed him guardian of his son Faustus, and caused a special law to be passed to enable him to hold the praetorship immediately after he had been aedile. In 74 he was consul with M. Aurelius Cotta, and having been appointed to conduct the second war against Mithridates, he carried it on for eight years with almost invariable success; defeated the king and his generals both by sea and land, and compelled him to seek an asylum at the court of Tigranes, king of Armenia; invaded the latter kingdom, vanquished its sovereign, and captured his capital; and was only prevented from consummating the overthrow of his formidable antagonist, and bringing the war to a triumphant conclusion, by the insubordination of his own soldiers. He also devoted much of his attention to the condition of the provinces, which were suffering under the oppressions of the Roman revenue officers, who thus became his enemies.
At length the Manilian law was enacted, which deprived Lucullus of his command, and gave it to his rival Pompey. He returned to Rome, and for the rest of his life took hardly any part in public affairs, but spent most of his time at his rural villas, in the enjoyment of a princely fortune, and in conversation with philosophers and literati. He collected a valuable library, which was open to all, and wrote a history of the social war in Greek, which is lost. His gardens near Rome were laid out in a style of extraordinary splendor, and his horticultural works in the neighborhood of Neapolis were on so gigantic a scale that Pompey called him in derision "the Roman Xerxes." He spared no expense in the entertainment of his friends, and a single supper which he gave some of them is said to have cost him 50,000 denarii, or about $8,500. He first introduced cherries into Europe, the tree receiving its Latin name from Cerasus, a town of Pontus.