Gardens of Lucullus

Rome, Italy

Gardens of Lucullus

The Gardens of Lucullus (Latin: Horti Lucullani) were the setting for an ancient villa on the Pincian Hill on the edge of Rome; they were laid out by Lucius Licinius Lucullus about 60 BC. The Villa Borghese gardens still cover 17 acres (6.9 ha) of green on the site, now in the heart of Rome, above the Spanish Steps.

The fabled gardens of Lucullus were among the most influential in the history of gardening. For introducing the Persian garden, Pompey mockingly nicknamed Lucullus "the Roman Xerxes", and Tubero called him "Xerxes in a toga". These comments demonstrate that it was well understood in Rome that this new luxury of gardening originated in Persia. Lucullus had firsthand experience of the Persian gardening style, in the satraps' gardens of Anatolia ("Asia" to the Romans) and in Mesopotamia and Persia itself. As Plutarch pointed out, "Lucullus [was] the first Roman who carried an army over Taurus, passed the Tigris, took and burnt the royal palaces of Asia in the sight of the kings, Tigranocerta, Cabira, Sinope, and Nisibis, seizing and overwhelming the northern parts as far as the Phasis, the east as far as Media, and making the South and Red Sea his own through the kings of the Arabians."

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