Nov 032013


Happy birthday Marcus Annaeus Lucanus , better known in English as Lucan,  a Roman poet, born in Corduba (modern-day Córdoba), in the Hispania Baetica. Despite his short life, he is regarded as one of the outstanding figures of the Imperial Latin period. His youth and speed of composition set him apart from other poets.

Lucan’s Pharsalia (or, “Civil War”, as many scholars now prefer to call it) was written approximately a century after the events it chronicles took place.

Lucan was born into a prominent Roman family (Seneca the Elder was his grandfather, and Seneca the Younger his uncle), and seems to have befriended the young Emperor Nero at an early age. He was for several years a poet of some prominence in the Emperor’s court, and it is during this period that the “Civil War”/”Pharsalia” was probably begun. However, Nero and Lucan’s friendship evidently soured, and in  65 C.E. Lucan joined Calpurnius Piso’s conspiracy to overthrow Nero. When the conspiracy was discovered, Lucan was given the option of suicide or execution.  He chose suicide, and recited several lines of his poetry while he died (possibly Book III, l. 700-712).  But I would like to think it was these:

Now fiery Titan in declining path Dipped to the waves, his bright circumference So much diminished as a growing moon Not yet full circled, or when past the full; When to the fleet a hospitable coast Gave access, and the ropes in order laid, The sailors struck the masts and rowed ashore


 Posted by at 12:36 pm

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