chapter  VIII
23 Pages

‘…retired Leisure that in trim gardens takes his pleasure’

Lucullus’ public activities in the period 66-60 present to the attentive reader one salient feature: with the exception of the attack on Pompey, Lucullus follows where others lead. Even in the case of an arch-foe such as Clodius he allows others to begin proceedings and, if we look for instance at his court-appearances, we definitely find him playing a secondary role. In short, Lucullus now reacts to events rather than initiates them. He acted thus, I believe, of set purpose. In the three years spent awaiting his triumph Lucullus had abundant time for reflection. His war with Mithridates, although adorned with distinguished and brilliant victories, had not been brought to a successful conclusion and another had been entrusted with bringing it to an end. Further, his friends had not been able to prevent the command being taken from him and, at this very moment, were giving yet further signal proof of their impotence by their failure to rescue him from his embarrassing position. This pointed to the obvious deduction that Lucullus would not possess the auetoritas he would have wished. He would certainly have a position of honour in the state but his counsel would not carry the same weight as it would have done had he returned as the vanquisher of Mithridates. Hence, although many people expected him to put himself at the head of the optimate interest in the state, Lucullus himself decided he was not fitted for the role. His continued participation in public life showed he had not yet despaired of those principles he had ever expressed but that he felt the time had come for others, most notably Cato, to take the lead in their defence. Possibly in these moments Lucullus bethought himself of his dead friend Antiochus who believed a man should blend the active and the contemplative in his life, for he now resolved to devote to his

private concerns much of the time he had once devoted to politics.1