Meanwhile all over Italy the rapid progress of luxury went on unchecked. On his return from the East Lucullus had almost, if not absolutely, withdrawn from politics, and as though he felt that he had carried one great historic task to conclusion, set out to work with all his powers upon another. After having excited in his countrymen the passion and the daring for the indefinite extension of Empire, he was now teaching them, the unconscious possessors of the greatest treasure-house in the world, how to employ the riches which he had placed in their hands. With an energy which seemed to grow rather than diminish with his years, the man who had lived till fifty in conditions of old-fashioned frugality, and had then, late in middle life, overrun the kingdoms and despoiled the treasures of two great Oriental monarchs, was now dazzling Italy with his display of Asiatic magnificence as he had formerly dazzled her with the risks and the romance of his campaigns.