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How important was Lucullus in the history of Rome

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==Third Mithridatic War (73-63 BC)==
Lucullus held several posts in Rome and in its Provinces and he gained a reputation as a competent and fair administrator. Meanwhile, Mithridates was able to regroup and fought a brief conflict with a Roman general, which is known as the Second Mithridatic war. The balance of power changed in the Roman East when Lucullus became an ally of Tigranes the Great, an Armenian monarch who established a large Empire that ranged from the Caucuses into modern Syria and east into Iraq. Mithridates once more attacked Roman allies in Asia Minor and quickly overran most of them in 73 AD. Lucullus as consul with was sent with his co-consul in 70 BC to deal with the threat. His colleague blundered into a trap in Cynicus and was soon besieged by Mithridates. Lucullus responded quickly and soon surrounded the Pontic monarch’s army and inflicted a massive defeat on his forces. The Pontic monarch retreated into Armenia and went to the court of his ally Tigranes who was also his son-in-law. Lucullus took over the Pontic Kingdom and after Tigranes refused to hand over the Pontic king, the Romans invaded the Armenian Empire. The Roman general Romans besieged the Armenian capital Tigrancerta. The Armenian king who had been quelling a revolt returned to relieve the siege of his capital. Lucullus was outnumbered, and his enemy had assumed a defensive position. The Armenians cataphracts or heavy cavalry were the elite of Tigranes army and superior to the Roman cavalry<ref> Sherwin-White, Adrian N. (1994). "Lucullus, Pompey, and the East". In J. A. Crook; Andrew Lintott; Elizabeth Rawson. The Cambridge Ancient History IX: The Last Age of the Roman Republic, 146-43 BC. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 241 </ref>. Lucullus decided on a daring plan of attack. He ordered his infantry to advance over a hill and attacked the Armenian heavy cavalry in the rear. Lucullus army nearly annihilated the cataphracts and the Armenian infantry fled, but they were ridden down by the Roman cavalry. Lucullus has secured a remarkable victory and one that was studied throughout the centuries<ref>Keaveney, Arthur: Lucullus. A Life (London/New York: Routledge, 1992), p 119</ref>. He went on to inflict another crushing defeat on the Armenian king in what is now modern Iraq. However, Mithridates resourceful as ever returned to Pontus and defeated the Roman garrison at the battle of Zela. Some in Rome blamed Lucullus for this defeat and for his apparent inability to end the conflict. Plutarch in his biography stated that Pompey wanted the command of the army in the war against Mithridates and he conspired with others against Lucullus <ref>Plutarch, 7, 2</ref>. An ally of Pompey incited a mutiny in the army and this led to the recall of Lucullus. Pompey took over command of his army and he secured the final submission of Tigranes. He advanced into the Caucuses and Mithridates committed suicide when his own son betrayed him. Lucullus returned to Rome an extremely wealthy man and was excluded from public life by the Pompeian allies. He became a great builder and a patron of the arts and was renowned for his lavish lifestyle <ref> Sherwin, p 242 </ref>.[[File: Mithridates VI Louvre.jpg |200px|thumb|left| A bust of Mithridates VI as Hercules]]  
==Lucullus and the defeat of Mithridates==
Mithridates was a formidable foe and was incredibly resilient and took advantage of the endemic divisions in the Roman Republic. In the First and Third Mithridatic War, he posed a grievous threat to Rome influence in the eastern Mediterranean. This was especially the case in the Third war between the Pontic king and the Republic when Mithridates entered into an alliance with the Roman rebels in Spain. Lucullus displayed remarkable generalship prevented the Pontic king and his Armenian allies from expelling Rome from the Near East <ref>Sherwin, p. 245</ref>. His victories ensured that Mithridates was all but beaten. The King was able to escape and was even able to recapture some of his lands. In fact, the Pontic king was severely weakened and his alliance with Armenia was at an end. He only had a small army and many of his lands were in outright revolt. He was beaten and only his bravery and resourcefulness, allowed him to continue the fight against Rome. Lucullus was the general who could claim to have ended the threat from the Pontic King. By doing this he not only saved Rome in the east but also enabled the Republic to dominate Asia Minor and the Levant for centuries <ref>Sherwin, p 244</ref>. In fact, Roman control of Asia Minor was not again challenged until the 7th century AD.

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