Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus

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Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus (* around 116 BC; † shortly after 56 BC), younger brother of Lucius Licinius Lucullus , was a follower of Sulla and 73 BC. Chr. Consul of the Roman Republic . As proconsul of Macedonia , he defeated the Bessi in Thrace and reached the Danube and the west coast of the Black Sea with his troops . He was also insignificantly involved in the Third Slave War .


Name and family

Born in Rome as Marcus Licinius Lucullus, he was later adopted by a Marcus Terrentius Varro, about whom nothing is known. As a result of the adoption, his full name, as found on inscriptions, was M (arcus) Terentius M (arci) f (ilius) Varro Lucullus . In historiography he is usually referred to as M. Lucullus or simply Lucullus . Among other things, this led to a mix-up with his older brother Lucius in Appian's civil wars .

Marcus Lucullus was part of an influential plebeian family, the gens Licinia . He was the grandson of the consul Lucius Licinius Lucullus (151 BC). His father reached the office of praetor (104 BC) and achieved military successes in Lucania and Sicily during the Second Slave War . However, his political career ended abruptly when he was convicted of embezzlement. The mother of Marcus and Lucius Lucullus, Caecilia Metella Calva , was a close relative of two of the most powerful men of their time. Her niece, Caecilia Metella Dalmatica , was Sulla's fourth wife. The son of her brother Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus , Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius , was a close confidante of Sulla as well as Pontifex Maximus and consul in 80 BC. Chr.


Portrait of Sulla on a denarius of Quintus Pompeius Rufus, 55 BC. Chr.

When Sulla 83 BC When he returned to Rome to fight the followers of Gaius Marius , Marcus and his brother joined Sulla's army. Marcus served as a legate in northern Italy under his cousin, Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius . There he was besieged in the city of Placentia , but was able to break out after Metellus Pius had defeated the troops of Gaius Norbanus . At Fidentia he was in command of 15 cohorts (about 3,500 men) and defeated a numerically superior army of 50 cohorts under the command of the Legate Quinctius.


Probably through the influence of his cousin Metellus Pius, who held the office of Pontifex Maximus, Marcus Lucullus was admitted to the pontifical college. That probably happened in 81 BC. When Sulla expanded the college from 9 to 15 members. Membership in the pontifical college was a great honor that came close to the fame of the consular office, and played an important role in Marcus Lucullus' later career.


80 BC In his absence, Marcus Lucullus was appointed aedile for 79 BC. Elected together with his brother, who had recently returned from the province of Asia . Her tenure in office was remembered primarily for the game that was held, which Cicero described as splendid much later. Among other things, they built rotating sets for theatrical performances for the first time and were the first to have an elephant fight a bull in the arena .

Praetor Peregrinus

As Praetor Peregrinus (the chief judge for cases involving non-Romans ) for the year 76 BC. M. Lucullus presided over the trial of Gaius Antonius Hybrida , who later became co-consul of Cicero. As Sulla's legate, Hybrida had become immensely rich in Greece during the Mithridatic Wars . The prosecutor, the young Caesar , achieved a conviction. However, Hybrida was able to successfully appeal to the tribunes because, in his opinion, a Greek could not expect a fair trial in Rome. M. Lucullus also introduced a law that allowed victims of slave gangs to sue their owners for four times the damage they suffered.

Consul and Proconsul of Macedonia

The Province of Macedonia in the Roman Empire, c. 120 AD

As consul in 73 BC BC (together with Gaius Cassius Longinus ) he passed a law that prescribed the supply of needy Roman citizens with grain ( lex Terentia et Cassia frumentaria ) His name also appears in a famous inscription, a letter written to the inhabitants of Oropos in Greece informed that the Senate had passed a decree regulating their disputes with Roman tax farmers in their favor.

After his consulate, M. Lucullus was appointed governor (proconsul) of the important province of Macedonia. He used his tenure to wage a successful campaign against the neighboring Thracian tribe of the Besser. During this campaign he moved to the Danube and the Black Sea, where he conquered several Greek cities, including Apollonia Pontica , Kallatis , Tomis and Istros . For these successes he was 71 BC. A triumphal procession granted. Part of the booty from the campaign was a colossal statue of Apollo, which M. Lucullus had stolen from a temple in Apollonia. Presumably during the triumphal procession the statue was brought to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus . The statue was later melted down during the Christianization of the Roman Empire .

In the same year M. Lucullus also played a supporting role in the suppression of Spartacus ' slave revolt. He was called back prematurely from his governorship in Macedonia to help in the fight against Spartacus. This had just broken through Crassus ' fortifications at Rhegium and wanted to march to Brindisium , in order to sail from there to Greece or Illyrium . When Spartacus received the news that M. Lucullus and his Macedonian legions had landed at Brindisium, he turned back and faced the troops of Crassus, who defeated him.

Later years and death

Cicero. Engraving after a Roman original (London)

66 or 65 BC M. Lucullus was accused by Gaius Memmius because of his allegiance to Sulla, but acquitted. 65 BC He was also one of the witnesses in the trial of the former tribune Gaius Cornelius , who was seen as a revolutionary. Cornelius was defended by Cicero.

63 BC M. Lucullus turned against Catiline and his plan to murder the consuls, including Cicero, and to overthrow the government. The following year he was the main defense witness in the trial against his friend, the poet Aulus Licinius Archias , in which Cicero gave his famous speech for Archias.

58 and 57 BC M. Lucullus was part of a group working on Cicero's return from exile .

When his brother Lucius became demented, he became his guardian; he buried him 56 BC In his Tuscan country estate. Marcus Lucullus himself died not much later.



Individual evidence

  1. Keaveney 8; Arkenberg 333.
  2. Marcus Terentius, son of Marcus, Varro Lucullus
  3. ^ Mommsen, History of Rome 4 , page 87.
  4. ^ Livius Periochae 88; Velleius Paterculus 2, 28, 1 ; Plutarch Sulla 27, 7-8; Plutarch Lucullus 37, 1 (there M. Lucullus is called quaestor, not legate); Appian Civil Wars 1, 92; Broughton, Magistrates of the Roman Republic 2. 65.
  5. Jörg Rüpke, Vitae Sacerdotum, under [DNr2602] M. Terentius M. f. Varro Lucullus ( ); sure before 76 BC B.C., see Taylor, Caesar's Colleagues 411
  6. ^ Mommsen, Staatsrecht I 583
  7. ^ Vitae sacerdotum
  8. ^ Plutarch, Lucullus 1, 6
  9. Cicero De Officiis 2, 57
  10. Pliny Naturalis Historia 8, 19; Keaveney 36
  11. ^ Asconius S84 Clark; Quintus Tullius Cicero Commentariolum Petitionis 8; Plutarch Caesar 4; Gelzer, Caesar 21
  12. ^ Cicero "Pro Tullio" 8-11; Gelzer, "Caesar" 34-35.
  13. ^ LacusCurtius • The Roman Welfare System (Smith's Dictionary, 1875)
  14. Latin text
  15. ^ Sallust Historien 4, 18 M .; Eutropius 6, 10, 1; J. Harmatta, Studies in the History and Language of the Sarmatians: .
  16. Cicero, In L. Calpurnium Pisonem 44; Eutropius 6, 10, 1.
  17. ^ Strabo, Geography 7, 6, 1; Pliny, Naturalis Historia 4, 92 and 34, 38.
  18. Plutarch, Lucullus 37.
  19. Gelzer, Cicero 62-63
  20. Plutarch, Lucullus 43