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Civil War is the only surviving work of Lucan, a Roman writer from the 1st century Written during the reign of Nero, Lucan s Civil War was arguably the last great epic poem written in antiquity at least in the West The poem as we have it is unfinished Nero ordered Lucan to commit suicide at the age of 25 , but what s left is a fairly complete story of the war between Julius Caesar and Sextus Pompey, all the way to its grisly endThey all bought, but he sold Rome IV 824The Oxford World s Classics edition argues that Civil War stands beside the poems of Virgil and Ovid in the first rank of Latin epic I would not go quite that far Civil War is a bit of a controversial classic the poem has a few quite glaring turnoffs, and has earned its share of detractors over the centuries Even classical scholar Moses Hadas, who considered Lucan to be worth reading, described his vices as shrieking and easy to find Two of his faults in particular may test the modern reader The first is Lucan s passion for the grotesque, which is almost absurd The poem dwells on horrible, repulsive situations with a kind of morbid glee Here are a few examples that I found to be particularly memorableI n the naval battle the sword achieves the most Each stands leaning from his own boat s stronghold to meet the enemy s blows and none when killed fell in his own ship Deep blood foams in the water, the waves are choked by clotted gore and the ships, when hauled by iron chains thrown on board, are kept apart by crowds of corpses Some sank, half dead, into the vast deep and drank the sea mixed with their own blood Etc., etc It gets worse Catus fights, boldly holding on to Greek post, at one moment he is pierced in his back and chest alike by weapons shot together the steel meets in the middle of his body and the blood stood still, unsure from which wound to flow, until at one moment a flood of gore drove out both spears Onefor the road not for the squeamishThat day a unique form of hideous death was seen, when a young man in the water by chance was transfixed by the beaks of converging vessels The middle of his chest was split apart by such tremendous blows, the bronze of the beaks resounding from his crushed belly the blood mixed with entrails spouted gore through his mouth Gross For what it s worth, this obsession with the grotesque is simply a reflection of the taste of his day Seneca the Younger Lucan s uncle displays a similar lean towards the lurid in his tragedies But that doesn t make it incredibly fun to read Fortunately, Lucan calms down a bit in the poem s second half and largely spares us these horrors by the time we get to Pharsalus The other potential turnoff is the poem s bombastic and rhetorical style Lucan regularly imposes strained, artificial speeches on his protagonists, often at the most unlikely times This is the nature of the genre, to some degree, but Lucan stretches it to the limit Muchso than Virgil or Ovid s epics, Lucan s poem feels like it s about 2,000 years old This is not helped by Lucan s frequent, enthusiastic, and unintelligible digressions into astronomy, geography, zoology or whatever other subject catches his fancy.So the poem has its problems But there are plenty of things working in its favor Lucan writes with fire and conviction, and his fervor can be contagious when he s at his best Unlike the great epic poems before it, Civil War deals with actual human beings participating in a historical conflict There s no real hero of the poem Caesar is presented as a bloodthirsty warmonger, Pompey as the lesser of two evils The closest the poem comes to a moral hero is Cato, who s very much off in the wings The lack of an infallible, superhuman protagonist is refreshing and makes the poeminteresting The relationship between Pompey and his wife Cornelia gives the poem an emotional hook, and the Battle of Pharsalus which I was a bit nervous going into, given Lucan s love of slaughter is a suitably epic set piece While Lucan has had plenty of critics, he s had plenty of fans too Dante ranked Lucan with Homer, Virgil, Horace and Ovid in his own epic over 1,000 years later.Ultimately the best thing about Lucan may be that he didn t try and simply copy Virgil Civil War adopts some of the scenes and key themes of its genre, but it is very much an original work That sthan can be said for any of Lucan s epic writing contemporaries from the death of Augustus onward While the poem has its faults, at least it is trying to do something a little different Fans of the classics are encouraged to give this poem a go, but with reservations 3 stars. Lucan s Civil War, written in his early 20s before he was compelled to kill himself by Nero, is an astonishingly exuberant poem that presents history as political theater in this case, the clash between Julius Caesar and Pompey Unlike the usual epic, he dispenses with the machinations of deities and stages instead the raw contest between two egomaniacs with armies criss crossing the Mediterranean The narrative is high spirited, packed with the pornography of war, and races from scene to scene only to stop in mid sentence.In Book 7, immediately following the decisive battle of Pharsalus, he offers what may be the most nihilistic oration in all of ancient literature Here is the heroic glory of battle, according to Lucan Your wrath does nothing Whether the corpses rotor a pyre undoes them makes no difference.Nature welcomes everything back to herpeaceful bosom, and bodies owe their endto themselves All these peoples, Caesar,if fire does not burn them now, it willburn them with the earth, burn them withthe sea s abyss a common pyre awaitsthe world, it will mix their bones with stars.Wherever Fortune calls your soul, these soulsare there too You won t ascend any higherinto the breezes, or lie in a better placebeneath the night of Styx Death is freefrom Fortune Earth takes all that she gives birth to,and heaven covers whoever has no urn.This punchy new translation by Matthew Fox is a pleasure throughout.Perhaps such poetry could only be written by a brash young man, a privileged member of the Roman aristocracy, educated in Athens, a nephew of the Stoic philosopher Seneca No wonder Nero, with his artistic pretensions, was jealous Lucan wasn t content with being the superior poet he had to rub coarse salt in the wound James Romm, in his recent biography of Seneca, tells the tale Most likely it was now that Lucan uttered a bon mot that later became legendary While using a public lavatory, he heard the sound of his own flatulence echoing through the hollow privy beneath him His quick literary mind seized on an apt quotation from the poetry of Nero You might think it had thundered beneath the earth, Lucan intoned, gleefully spoofing the emperor s verse about an eruption of Mount Aetna Those who heard him hastened to leave the latrine, fearing that their presence there put them in danger.It s no surprise that Lucan, who lustily despises Caesar throughout the Civil War, came to see the assassination of Nero as a civic duty and joined the conspiracy to kill him Unfortunately, the plot was discovered and everyone died He was hardly a hero at the end, but as his terrific poem proves, heroes count for nothing. The men, too, as they head for war and the opposing camps,pour out just complaints against the cruel deities O how unfortunate that we were not born in the timeof the Punic war, to fight at Cannae and at Trebia It is not peace we ask for, gods inspire with rage the foreign nations,now rouse the fierce cities let the world league togetherfor war let lines of Medes swoop down from AchaemenidSusa, let Scythian Danube not confine the Massagetae,let the Elbe and Rhine s unconquered head let loosefrom furthest north the blond Suebi make us againthe enemies of all the peoples, only ward off civil war.From here let the Dacian strike, from there the Getan let one leader faceIberians, the other turn his standards to confront the eastern quivers let no hand of yours, Rome, be swordless Or if it is your decision,gods, to devastate the Hesperian name, then let the mighty ethergather into fires and fall to earth in thunderbolts.Cruel creator, strike both parties and both leaders together,while they are still innocent Must they contestthe rule of Rome with this great crop of crimes unprecedented Already the corpses, melting with decay and blurred with time slong passage, have lost their features only now do miserable parentsgather and steal in fearful theft the parts they recognize.I recall how I myself, keen to place my slain brother sdisfigured face on the pyre s forbidden flames,examined all the corpses of Sulla s peaceand searched through all the headless bodies for a neckto match the severed head Then every ship which attacked Brutus timbersstuck captive to the one it hit, defeated by its own impact,while others are held fast by grappling irons and smooth chainsor tangled by their oars the sea is hidden and war stands still.Now no missiles are hurled or shot by arms,no wounds from weapon thrown fall from afar,but hand meets hand in the naval battle the swordachieves the most Each stands leaning from his own boat sstronghold to meet the enemy s blows and none when killedfell in his own ship Deep blood foamsin the water, the waves are choked by clotted goreand the ships, when hauled by iron chains thrown on board,are kept apart by crowds of corpses The victorious Moors did not enjoy to the full the sightwhich Fortune gave they do not see the streamsof gore, collapsing limbs, and bodies hittingthe earth every corpse stood erect, crushed in a mass.Let Fortune call up grim Carthage s hated ghostswith these new offerings, let blood stained Hannibaland the Punic shades accept this grim expiation.It is a crime, gods, that Roman ruin on the earthof Libya helps Pompey and the Senate s prayers Better that Africa should conquer us for herself You collapse when battle is removed, because, although your bloodwas shed, fighting gave you strength As he falls, a crowd of comradescatch him and, rejoicing, set him fainting on their shoulders and they worship the deity, so to speak, confined insidehis stabbed breast and the living semblance of mighty Heroism.They vie to pluck the weapons from his transfixed limbs,and they adorn the gods and naked breasted Marswith your armour, Scaeva, happy in this claim to famehad robust Iberians or Cantabrians with tiny weaponsor Teutones with lengthy weapons fled from you.But you cannot adorn the Thunderer s templewith spoils of war, you cannot yell in happy triumphs.Unhappy man with such enormous valour you bought a master But when dead bodies are preserved in stone, which draws the inmostmoisture off, and once the marrow s fluid is absorbed and they grow hard,then greedily she vents her rage on the entire corpse she sinks her hands into the eyes, she gleefully digs outthe cold eyeballs and gnaws the pallid nailson withered hand With her own mouth has she burstthe noose and knots of the criminal, mangled bodies as they hung,scraped clean the crosses, torn at guts beatenby the rains, at marrows exposed and baked by the sun.She has stolen the iron driven into hands, the black and putridliquid trickling through the limbs and the congealed slimeand, if muscle resisted her bite, she has tugged with all her weight.And if any corpse lies on the naked earth, she campsbefore the beasts and birds come she does not want to tearthe limbs with knife or her own hands, but awaitsthe bites of wolves, to grab the bodies from their dry throats.Nor do her hands refrain from murder, if she needssome living blood which first bursts out when throat is slitand if her funeral feast demands still quivering organs.So through a wound in the belly, not nature s exit,the foetus is extracted to be put on burning altars.And whenever she has need of cruel, determined spirits,herself she creates ghosts Every human death is to her advantage.She plucks from young men s faces the bloom of cheekand from a dying boy cuts off a lock of hair with her left hand She ceased and, with night s darkness doubled by her craft,her dismal head concealed in a murky cloud, she wandersthrough the corpses of the slain, thrown out, denied a grave.Fast fled the wolves, fast fled the carrion birds, unfed,tearing free their talons, while the witch of Thessalyselects her prophet, and by examining innards chillwith death she finds a stiff lung s lobes, entire,without a wound, and in a corpse she seeks a voice From this battle the peoples receive a mightier woundthan their own time could bearwas lost than lifeand safety for all the world s eternity we are prostrated.640Every age which will suffer slavery is conquered by these swords.How did the next generation and the next deserveto be born into tyranny Did we wield weapons or shieldour throats in fear and trembling The punishment of others fearsits heavy on our necks If, Fortune, you intended to give a masterto those born after battle, you should have also given us a chance to fight. Y vosotros, ancianos, chusma despreciable y sin gota de sangre, ser n simples espectadores, ya como plebe romana, de nuestros triunfos O imaginan que la carrera de C sar puede acusar la mengua que supone su deserci n O acaso piensan que me han prestado alguna ayuda decisiva Jam s la providencia de los dioses se rebajar de forma que los destinos se preocupen de la muerte y de la vida de gentes como ustedes el g nero humano vive en funci n de unos pocos Lucano compuso su poema pico Farsalia para hablarnos de los conflictos de la Guerra Civil romana entre Julio C sar y su yerno Pompeyo Obedeciendo ste los deseos del Senado, es encargado de defender Roma contra el ataque de C sar, quien luego de perder las esperanzas en lograr ser c nsul de la Rep blica y verse acorralado por la opini n de unos pocos decide atacar Roma, tras lo cual se dar la huida de Pompeyo para ofrecer una mejor resistencia Es as que C sar atraviesa el Rubic n y se enfrasca en la guerra.Hay una parcialidad del autor con Pompeyo, al cual aplica el sobrenombre de Magno, lo retrata como un h roe, leal y de gran coraz n mientras que a Julio C sar lo describe como caprichoso, astuto y por momentos cruel No deja sin embargo de referirse a sus cualidades, el futuro dictador romano tiene una velocidad de un rayo para atacar y tomar posiciones, es el hijo predilecto de la diosa de la Fortuna, por momentos parece un semidi s al que nada le puede salir mal.Las ideas de Lucano son confusas, aunque aceptando emperadores tiene grandes reparos en hablar una poca de bienestar durante la guerra civil y llama tirano al que pretende quedarse en el poder prescindiendo del senado.Las descripciones por momento saturaron, a veces eran muy nimias y otras veces ocasiones hubo donde al hablar de temas mitol gicos se ve an pasajes forzados el mismo autor muestra un grado importante de escepticismo en la obra que no me llegaron a convencer, parec an pasajes parchados a la nueva historia, no guardaban una armon a como he visto en otros picos.Lamentablemente por la cantidad de altibajos no me termin de gustar mucho, pero hay datos interesantes como las proclamas de los generales, las acusaciones mutuas, los episodios de hambruna o pobreza de las tropas y de los valores de la virtud romana Pero sin embargo a pesar de tocar temas muy interesantes siento que no le dio la fuerza necesaria a todos, algunos pasajes muy importantes parecen desdibujados, no bien explicados y uno duda su real importancia en la historia que quiso contar Lucano. This book was both fascinating and boring Not in turns simultaneously I ve never read anything else like it I would be falling asleep while wanting to turn the page And it keeps on lumbering away, in it s enthrallingly tedious way, until chapter 6.And suddenly it turns into Conan the Barbarian.Or something very similar Lucan goes from a grandiose if straightforward account of the end of the Republic right into the Thessalian Witches These are magicians so powerful that it leads to a theological aside on the author s part, wondering whether the gods were compelled to obey them, or simply chose to do so and if they chose to, why They can stop Jupiter s chariot in its tracks, and even threaten Hades himself It s one of the most amazing fantasy accounts I ve ever read.Lucan occasionally rises to this level previously, he describes the prophetic ecstasy of the Oracle of Delphi, and later gives an incredible version of Medusa and her power If only the whole work were dedicated to this sort of thing, it would probably rank as one of the best mythological epics written.For what it is, however, the best part of the book are the individual epigrams Lucan was an orator, and the introductory material says the book reads better as a rhetorical manual than an epic And the lines are good one example is spoken to Caesar about Pompey, prior to crossing the Rubicon Half the world you may not have, but you can have the whole world for yourself If you re not interested in Roman history, this book won t convince you But if you are, you can get quite a lot out of this first century poetic account of the end of the Roman Republic. Grievous alas is it, and ever will be, that Caesar profited by his worst crime his fighting against a kinsman who had scruples Lucan s Civil War is some of the most insane stuff I ve read in a very long time If Hieronymus Bosch wrote history, surely this is not far from what he d come up with Passages spare no detail in describing the eye popping literally, eyeballs are popped from their sockets and gore encrusting madness that results from Caesar s challenge to Pompey worse than Hanya Yanagihara Loved ones are defaced, heads bodies decapitated, as corpses become grist for the mill that is the war machine The poem culminates but does not end with the battle of Pharsalia indeed, Lucan s poem is frequently referred to as Pharsalia , but what counts is the legacy of the battle itself and the shock waves it waves wrought on Roman society itself.Lucan has rightly been described as a writer of rhetoric Civil War is peppered throughout with gorgeous passages, some of which go on at length I feel that one such passage at the beginning of book two sums up the philosophy of the work better than any other as it is rather lengthy, I don t feel comfortable quoting the Latin For when Rome had conquered the world and Fortune showered excess of wealth upon her, virtue was dethroned by prosperity, and the spoil taken from the enemy lured men to extravagance they set no limit to their wealth or their dwellings greed rejected the food that once sufficed men seized for their use garments scarce decent for women to wear poverty, the mother of manhood, became a bugbear and from all the earth was brought the special bane of each nation Next they stretched wide the boundaries of their lands, till those acres, which once were furrowed by the iron plough of Camillus and felt the spade of a Curius1 long ago, grew into vast estates tilled by foreign cultivators Such a nation could find no pleasure in peace and quiet, nor leave the sword alone and grow fat on their own freedom Hence they were quick to anger, and crime prompted by poverty was lightly regarded to overawe the State was high distinction which justified recourse to the sword and might became the standard of right Hence came laws and decrees of the people passed by violence According to Lucan, the Civil War comes indirectly as a result of a culture of greed and excess which knew no limits Caesar is a personification of a sign of the times, with his lack of regard for culture or custom, with a respect for nothing but his own ambition Fittingly, the gods play no role, no character becomes divinely inspired, but all who play this game do so with an eye towards Fortune, an unfaithful spirit of sorts which most venerate without calculable return Caesar seems pretty lucky though In a universe without divine intervention, to know one s lot becomes a curse Olympus, see fit to lay on suffering mortals this additional burden, that they should learn the approach of calamity by awful portents Whether the author of the universe, when the fire1 gave place and he first took in hand the shapeless realm of raw matter, established the chain of causes for all eternity, and bound himself as well by universal law, and portioned out the universe, which endures the ages prescribed for it, by a fixed line of destiny or whether nothing is ordained and Fortune, moving at random, brings round the cycle of events, and chance is master of mankind in either case, let thy purpose, whatever it be, be sudden let the mind of man be blind to coming doom he fears, but leave him hope All that s left for inspiration are the tales of men Man s destiny has never been watched over by any god Yet for this disaster we have revenge, so far as gods may give satisfaction to mortals civil war shall make dead Caesars the peers of gods above and Rome shall deck out dead men with thunderbolts and haloes and constellations, and in the temples of the gods shall swear by ghosts Atthan one point are alternatives to civil war appealed to in contrast to the useless and destructive folly of the civil war That we put so much effort into destruction and war itself what could become of roman society had it instead put its efforts into the subjugation of other nations, rather than its own peoples Or better still, as the poet Tibullus would have encouraged, to the efforts of peace interea pax arva colat pax candida primumduxit araturos sub iuga curva boves pax aluit vites et sucos condidit uvae,funderet ut nato testa paterna merum pace bidens vomerque nitent, at tristia duri50militis in tenebris occupat arma situs,rusticus e lucoque vehit, male sobrius ipse,uxorem plaustro progeniemque domum There are some players in this game which embody the Stoic spirit that Lucan advocates but most of what is in Lucan s word is base which makes sense given that the Stoics always seem to be an elect at odds with the rabble The social order has been ruptured, and eye for an eye is the only law Caesar of course, will pay with his life for the trend of corruption he began, and though the reader knows this, they will nevertheless be dazzled by this Epic Historical Philosophical masterpiece. Lucan was the nephew of Seneca the Younger one time tutor to Nero and forced by him to commit suicide and so he has a very personal response to hereditary monarchy which comes over very clearly in this text Re telling the story of the civil war waged between Julius Caesar and Pompey, he also explores the re establishment of monarchy vs the supposed independence of the republic.This is a very literary text and relies on the reader s knowledge of other Roman epics especially Virgil s Aeneid, but also Ovid s Metamorphoses which itself challenged what the epic genre could and should encompass But it s not strictly essential to have a knowledge of either Roman literature or even history to enjoy this book though it undoubtedly helps in terms of exploring the nuances.Braund s translation OUP Oxford World Classics 1992 of the Latin poetry is in free verse, and is flowing and powerful Her notes and especially introduction are excellent contextualising the poem in many directions.I have to admit that this isn t one of my favourite Latin texts but Lucan s sensational episodes are very gothic and almost worth reading in themselves, replete as they are with bloody portents, witches, and all manner of gore Caesar s affair with Cleopatra is also extremely lurid but it s a shame that the text breaks off at that point as Lucan never finished the poem So worth a read but not a good introduction to Latin literature. silver age literate epic, taken from history rather than mythology Caesar is almost a standard epic hero, to the extent that he is kinda a dick, similar to earlier Achilles and later Lucifer famous scene is the inverted katabasis in book VI, wherein pompey, instead of descending to the underworld, as is proper, has erichtho bring unfortunate decedent back to earth great stuff. {READ DOWNLOAD} ⚣ Pharsalia Ò A Magnificent New Translation Of The Enduring Epic About The Sundering Of The Roman RepublicLucan Lived From AD At A Time Of Great Turbulence In Rome His Civil War Portrays Two Of The Most Colorful And Powerful Figures Of The Age Julius Caesar And Pompey The Great, Enemies In A Vicious Struggle For Power That Severed Bloodlines And Began The Transformation Of Roman Civilization With Right Locked In Combat With Might, Law And Order Broke Down And The Anarchic Violence That Resulted Left Its Mark On The Roman People Forever, Paving The Way For The Imperial Monarchy Accessible And Modern Yet Loyal To The Rhetorical Brilliance Of The Original, This Will Be The Definitive Civil Warof Our TimesFor Than Seventy Years, Penguin Has Been The Leading Publisher Of Classic Literature In The English Speaking World With Than , Titles, Penguin Classics Represents A Global Bookshelf Of The Best Works Throughout History And Across Genres And Disciplines Readers Trust The Series To Provide Authoritative Texts Enhanced By Introductions And Notes By Distinguished Scholars And Contemporary Authors, As Well As Up To Date Translations By Award Winning Translators Great things destroy themselves such is the limit the gods place on all success A palavra epic antecede frequentemente a palavra fail As quedas de pessoas com m coordena o motora, a m m sica e as campanhas publicit rias s o as coisas mais picas que existem Aristeia coisa do passado distante e aret dissemos adieu nos anos 60 N o sei se isto grave, nem sei se verdade em 1990, Walcott escreveu Omeros.Umas das vantagens de ler cronologicamente este g nero de poesia t o anacr nico poder associar versos felizes a palavras, conceitos e acontecimentos hist ricos t o familiares, mas t o dif ceis de memorizar Er nias, Rubic o, o cerco de Brindisi, etc.Pharsalia um poema sobre a guerra civil entre J lio C sar e a fac o liderada por Pompeu Magno Spoiler C sar ganhou Est aqui uma coisa de apetite para quem gosta de meteorologia sabe se sempre de que lado sopra o vento e para quem aprecia astronomia especulativa n o que eu saiba a diferen a Para os aficionados de feitos de guerra varonis tamb m n o est mal h olhos arrancados, suic dios de grupo e todas as virtuosas bravatas do g nero A guerra coisa que aleija, conclui Lucano, especialmente quando C sar ganha.