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 Sulla, 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.