||Bibliophile edition of Marcus Annaeus Lucanus’ Pharsalia. The title page describes this book as an Editio accurate. It was published by the Typographical Society and has an attractive oval vignette of homage being paid to Caesar. There is a half title page followed by an introduction, chronological index of the editions of Pharsalia and then the text. Ten books of Lucanus’ epic Bellum Civile (on the civil war between Caesar and Pompey), erroneously but commonly called Pharsalia, survive. Though the poem is written in a severe style and is often digressive and extravagant, it has a kind of vigorous beauty and grandeur, which gave Lucan a high place in the esteem of later writers.
Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (November 3, AD 39-April 30, 65), better known in English as Lucan, was a Roman poet, and is one of the outstanding figures of the Silver Latin period. Marcus Annaeus Lucanus 39 CE – 65 CE Latin poet, b. Córdoba, Spain, nephew of the philosopher Seneca. At first in Nero’s favor, he was later forced to kill himself when his part in a plot against the emperor was discovered. During the period when Lucanus was in favor with Nero, he was awarded a prize for poetry in 60. His epic poem, Pharsalia (but labelled Bellum civile in the manuscripts), which relates the story of the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey, was much acclaimed. However, he soon fell out of favor, and was lured into the conspiracy of Gaius Calpurnius Piso. His treason having been discovered, he was obliged to commit suicide by opening a vein, but not before incriminating his mother (among others) in hopes of a pardon. His father was involved in the proscription, his mother escaped, and his widow Polla Argentaria survived to receive the homage of Statius under Domitian. The birthday of Lucan was kept as a festival after his death, and a poem addressed to his widow upon one of these occasions and containing information on the poet's work and career is still extant (Statius's Silvae, ii.7, entitled Genethliacon Lucani).
As with Virgil's masterpiece, Lucan's epic poem was unfinished at the time of his death, and its untidy condition is reflected in its 400 complete and partial copies. As A.E. Housman stated in the preface to his edition of 1926, "the manuscripts group themselves not in families but in factions; their dissidences and agreements are temporary and transient ... and the true line of division is between the variants themselves, not between the manuscripts which offer them." Pharsalia was celebrated during the Middle Ages; Dante in De vulgari eloquentia mentions Lucan, along with Ovid, Virgil and Statius as one of the four regulati poetae (ii, vi, 7). In Inferno Dante ranks him side by side with Homer, Horace, Ovid and Virgil (Inferno, IV,88). His work had tremendous influence in the poetry and drama of the 17th century. Shelley, Southey and Macaulay all praised his work.