MARCUS ANNAEUS LUCANUS (November 3, 39 AD – April 30, 65 AD),
better known in English as LUCAN (/ˈluːkən/ ), was a Roman poet ,
born in Corduba (modern-day Córdoba ), in
Hispania Baetica . Despite
his short life, he is regarded as one of the outstanding figures of
Latin period. His youth and speed of composition set him
apart from other poets.
* 1 Life
* 2 Works
* 3 Selected modern studies
* 4 Notes
* 5 References
* 6 External links
Three brief ancient accounts allow for the reconstruction of a modest
biography – the earliest attributed to
Suetonius , another to an
otherwise unknown Vacca , and the third anonymous and undated –
along with references in
Cassius Dio ,
Tacitus 's Annals,
and one of
Statius 's Silvae.
Lucan was the son of Marcus Annaeus Mela
and grandson of
Seneca the Elder ; he grew up under the tutelage of
Seneca the Younger
Seneca the Younger . Born into a wealthy family, he studied
rhetoric at Athens and was probably provided with a philosophical and
Stoic education by his uncle. Engraved title page of a French
edition of Lucan's Pharsalia, 1657
He found success under
Nero , became one of the emperor's close
friends and was rewarded with a quaestorship in advance of the legal
age. In 60 AD, he won a prize for extemporizing Orpheus and Laudes
Neronis at the quinquennial Neronia , and was again rewarded when the
emperor appointed him to the augurate. During this time he circulated
the first three books of his epic poem,
Pharsalia (labelled De Bello
civili in the manuscripts), which told the story of the civil war
Julius Caesar and
At some point, a feud began between
Nero and Lucan. Two very
different accounts of the events have survived that both trivialize
the feud. According to Tacitus,
Nero became jealous of
forbade him to publish his poems. According to Suetonius,
Lucan responded by writing insulting poems about
Nero continued to ignore.
Other works, though, point to a more serious basis to the feud. Works
by the grammarian Vacca and the poet
Statius may support the claim
Lucan wrote insulting poems about Nero. Vacca mentions that one
of Lucan's works was entitled De Incendio Urbis (On the Burning of the
City). Statius's ode to
Lucan mentions that
Lucan described how the
"unspeakable flames of the criminal tyrant roamed the heights of
Remus." Additionally, the later books of
Pharsalia are anti-Imperial
and pro-Republic. This criticism of
Nero and office of the Emperor may
have been the true cause of the ban.
Lucan later joined the 65 AD conspiracy of Gaius Calpurnius Piso
against Nero. His treason discovered, he was obliged, at the age of
25, to commit suicide by opening a vein, but not before incriminating
his mother, among others, in the hopes of a pardon . According to
Lucan bled to death, "(he) recalled some poetry he had
composed in which he had told the story of a wounded soldier dying a
similar kind of death and he recited the very lines. These were his
His father was involved in the proscription but his mother escaped.
Statius's poem about
Lucan was addressed to his widow, Polla
Argentaria, upon the occasion of his birthday during the reign of
Domitian (Silvae, ii.7, the Genethliacon Lucani).
According to Vacca and Statius, Lucan's works included:
Pharsalia or De Bello Civili (On the Civil War), on the wars
Julius Caesar and
Often attributed to him (but to others as well):
Laus Pisonis (Praise of Piso), a panegyric of a member of the Piso
* Iliacon from the Trojan cycle
Adlocutio ad Pollam
* Salticae Fabulae
* Laudes Neronis, a praise of Nero
* Prosa oratio in Octavium Sagittam
* Epistulae ex Campania
* De Incendio Urbis, on the Roman fire of 64, perhaps accusing Nero
SELECTED MODERN STUDIES
* Ahl, Frederick M. Lucan: An Introduction. Cornell Studies in
Classical Philology 39. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Pr., 1976.
* Bartsch, Shadi. Ideology in Cold Blood: A Reading of Lucan's Civil
War. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Pr., 1997.
* Dewar, Michael. "Laying It On with a Trowel: The Proem to Lucan
and Related Texts." Classical Quarterly 44 (1994), 199–211.
* Fantham, Elaine. "Caesar and the Mutiny: Lucan's Reshaping of the
Historical Tradition in De Bello Civili 5.237–373." Classical
Philology 80 (1985), 119–31.
* ———. "Lucan's Medusa Excursus: Its Design and Purpose."
Materiali e discussioni 29 (1992), 95–119.
* Fratantuono, Lee. "Madness Triumphant: A Reading of Lucan's
Pharsalia." Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2012.
* Henderson, John G. W. "Lucan: The Word at War." Ramus 16 (1987),
* Johnson, Walter R. Momentary Monsters:
Lucan and His Heroes.
Cornell Studies in Classical Philology 47. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ.
* Lapidge, M. "Lucan's Imagery of Cosmic Dissolution." Hermes 107
* Leigh, Matthew. Lucan: Spectacle and Engagement. New York: Oxford
Univ. Pr., 1997.
* Marti, Berthe. "The Meaning of the Pharsalia." American Journal of
Philology 66 (1945), 352–76.
* Martindale, Charles A. "The Politician Lucan." Greece and
* Masters, Jamie. Poetry and Civil War in Lucan's 'Bellum Civile'.
Cambridge Classical Studies. New York: Cambridge Univ. Pr., 1992.
* ———. "Deceiving the Reader: The Political Mission of Lucan's
Bellum Civile." Reflections of Nero: Culture, History, and
Representation, ed. Jás Elsner and Jamie Masters. Chapel Hill: Univ.
of North Carolina Pr., 1994. 151–77.
* Morford, M. P. O. The
Poet Lucan. New York: Oxford Univ. Pr.,
* O'Gorman, Ellen. "Shifting Ground: Lucan, Tacitus, and the
Landscape of Civil War." Hermathena 159 (1995), 117–31.
* Rossi, Andreola. "Remapping the Past: Caesar's Tale of Troy (Lucan
BC 9.964–999)." Phoenix 55 (2001), 313–26.
* Sklenar, Robert John. The Taste for Nothingness: A Study of
"Virtus" and Related Themes in Lucan's Bellum Civile. Ann Arbor: Univ.
of Mich. Pr., 2003.
* Thomas, Richard F. "The Stoic Landscape of
Lucan 9." Lands and
Peoples in Roman Poetry: The Ethnographic Tradition. New York:
Cambridge Univ. Pr., 1982. 108–23.
* ^ Suetonius, "Life of Lucan"
* ^ Tacitus, Annals XV.49
* ^ Suetonius, "Life of Lucan"
* ^ Vacca, Life of Lucan
* ^ Statius,
* ^ Tacitus, Annals XV.70.1. Scholars have vainly tried to locate
Lucan's last words in his work but no passage in Lucan's extant poem
exactly matches Tacitus's description at "Annals" 15.70.1. See, e.g.,
P. Asso, "A Commentary on
Lucan 'De Bello Civili IV.'" Berlin: De
Gruyter, 2010, p. 9n38.
* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lucan". Encyclopædia
Britannica . 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 91–92.
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