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Civil War

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  507 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Lucan's epic poem on the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, unfinished at the time of his death, stands beside the poems of Virgil and Ovid in the first rank of Latin epic. This newly annotated, free verse translation conveys the full force of Lucan's writing and his grimly realistic view of the subject. The work is a powerful condemnation of civil war, emphasizing the s ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 65)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,251)
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Jim
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 scen ...more
Samuel Valentino
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 the
...more
Evan Leach
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 end.

img: Pompey-Head
“They all bought, but he sold Rome.” IV. 824

The Oxford World’s
...more
Robert Gourley
As violent and gruesome an epic poem from Antiquity as I have ever read, and fascinating because of it.

Lucan expresses a palpable disdain for Caesar, presents a complex portrait of Pompey, and reserves his highest praise for Cato the Younger. His detailed and frightening description of the actions of the witch in Book VI could be used to explain Jewish and Christian strictures against necromancy. And his many digressions into myth and legend, reminds one of Tolkien.

But still, as searing as this
...more
Shannon
It's alright. Some of it is a little hard to follow but the gorey bloody bits were pretty good. I don't like Lucan half as much as I like Statius or Ovid.
Sarah Keliher
I'm actually reading the Robert Graves translation, which I was too lazy to import manually. I love his informal introductions. So far, it's very enjoyable.
Brad
This book is better than the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid and it is a shame that it has not been read by more people.
Adrienne
Excellent and readable translation.
Silvio Curtis
An epic about the Roman Civil War between Julius Caesar and Pompey, which is not finished because the author joined a conspiracy against Emperor Nero and was killed for it. Considering what the poem is like, I'm not surprised. Though Lucan says either side should have yielded rather than start a civil war, he explicitly sides with Pompey, the loser, and makes a lot of admiring statements about him. Most of all, he praises Cato, laments the end of the Republic, and calls the rule of the emperors ...more
David Sarkies
Lucan was a contemporary of Nero, and in fact died at the age of 25 when he slit his own wrists after being discovered being involved in a plot to overthrow Nero (it seems as if this was a dignified way to die in the early empire). As such Lucan's poem regaridng the civil war between Ceaser and Pompey remains unfinished. It is clear from the text that Lucan does not like Julius Ceaser, and that the translator of the version I read (Robert Graves) does not particularly like Lucan. So, if the tra ...more
GeschiedenisBeleven
Lucanus (39-65 na Chr.) is één van de minder bekende Romeinse dichters, maar zijn Pharsalia, over de burgeroorlog tussen Pompeius en Ceasar (49-45 na Chr.), is een epos dat iedere liefhebber van de Klassieken ten minste een keer in zijn leven zou moeten hebben gelezen.

De jonge poëet – die na een kort en meeslepend leven zijn eigen polsen doorsneed om aan de furie van keizer Nero te ontsnappen – schreef met Pharsalia een eigenzinnig en vurig epos in bombastische stijl. Om zo’n werk in het Nederl
...more
Brent Venton
Bombastic poetry decrying the perversion of former and current times, this Roman epic poem from the 1st century AD is less art and more political protest. The author himself was compelled to commit suicide after being implicated in a plot to assassinate Emperor Nero, leaving the work unfinished and for the most part unpolished. Lucan hatefully describes the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey, the verses are loaded with histrionics on the corruption of Roman values and gleeful description ...more
Meghan
Dec 10, 2008 Meghan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of gore, Classics, and the end of the Republic
Delightful. Don't let its status as an epic or the fact that it's incomplete put you off. I had to slog my way painfully through Homer and Vergil, but I couldn't put this down. Filled with gory details and weird supernatural events, Lucan is nothing if not entertaining. People in battle scenes die in disgusting and creative ways, including being crushed between ships and having gore pour out of their mouths and having gushes of blood squirt spears out of their bodies. The witch, Erictho, who app ...more
Pirata
re-reading this one. it has been a while. i read it in college but only in snippets given as packets. im extremely happy i never had to translate it because i hear that is insanely hard.

i just bought this copy from half.com and im really happy to finally own this. so far the translation seems really good and the small biography on Lucan in the first part of the book is really good as well. i entirely forgot that his grandfather was Seneca the Elder! and Seneca the Younger was his uncle, who tut
...more
Ken T
This book is a tough read. A product of Silver Age epic, it requires a thorough knowledge of Virgil and Julius Caesar's Civil Wars to appreciate the genius that went into this book. Granted it is incomplete (ending at book 10 rather than 12) and Lucan is a bit verbose, but the way in which he alters the epic paradigm and reshapes famous scenes from Virgil is fantastic. You can also add courage to Lucan's genius in that he wrote this anti-emperor panegyric under the reign of the paranoid Nero. Wh ...more
Bill
read April 12, 2011, deleted to stop screwing up publication date chart.
sologdin
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.
James Violand
Jul 01, 2014 James Violand rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of ancient Rome
Shelves: own
An epic poem of ancient Rome pits Caesar 'gainst Pompey the Great. Unfinished. Nero forced Lucan to commit suicide before he could end it. Shows a bias against Julius Caesar. Well worth the read. Reinforces what you may know about one of the Roman Civil Wars -- yes, there were more than one.
Craig Herbertson
The Pharsalia is an incomplete Roman epic poem by the poet Lucan. It's often cited by authors during civil wars so with the state of the world today, competing groups, factions, political and religious divides I'd advise you to take a look, particularly as this is a good prose translation.
junia
Jul 19, 2008 junia marked it as gave-up  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to junia by: CL 100
Shelves: school
i read the introduction, and probably the first few pages....

I somehow managed to achieve a tolerable grade without having read this book and having missed the lectures (I was sick.. really!)...

Alas, alack.
Where is my CULTURE?!
Danielle
Gory and weird. Lucan is a master of characterization, which becomes clear every time a sympathetic character is revealed as corrupt or narrow minded. The reader is consistently challenged to question the subtext of her own sympathies.
Nathan
Come for the history, stay for the rhetoric, leave the poetry where you found it, because . . . yikes.

But the rhetoric!
Geoff
enjoyable though provoking but bias study in the thoughs of lucan graves give corrections to lucans mistakes..
Isidore
The ancient Roman equivalent of Sean Hannity writing an epic paean about George Bush's war in Iraq.
Janet
Liked it but didn't have time to read in its entirity, but will some day!
James Koppen
Not for the impatient or squeamish. The work is also unfinished.
Mallory
extremely hard to read, but interesting.
James
The very definition of a lost classic.
Kevin
incomplete but mindblowing
Ibis3
May 19, 2011 Ibis3 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Bilingual edition preferred.
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Lucan translations - anyone have a good one? 4 14 Apr 22, 2012 05:18PM  
  • The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters
  • The Sixteen Satires
  • The Civil Wars
  • Epigrams
  • The Jugurthine War and The Conspiracy of Catiline
  • The Fall of Troy
  • The Pot of Gold and Other Plays
  • Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica (Loeb Classical Library No. 194)
  • Theological Tractates / The Consolation of Philosophy (Loeb Classical Library)
  • On the Nature of the Gods. Academics
  • The Odes
  • Moral Essays, Vol 1: de Providentia/de Constantia/de ira/de Clementia
  • Idylls
  • The Later Roman Empire: A.D. 354-378
  • Virgil, Vol 2: Aeneid Books 7-12, Appendix Vergiliana (Loeb Classical Library, #64)
  • The Comedies
  • The Satyricon and The Apocolocyntosis
  • The Jewish War
Lucan: Bello Civili I De Bello Civili. Book Ii De Bello Civili Lateinisch/Deutsch = Der @Bürgerkrieg A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil War Marci Annaei Lucani Pharsalia: Sive de Bello Civili Libri Decem...

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