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Lucan: The Civil War (Pharsalia) (The Loeb Classical Library, No. 220)

3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'This has brief notes, but a good detailed introduction, excellent on, e.g. exemplarity ... and descriptions of death ... very good.' Greece and Rome, April 1993

'B.'s able introduction and over one hundred pages of notes will make her work specially useful in courses covering post-Augustan literature or epic. B. covers a lot of ground admirably . Very welcome are B.'s pages ... on Lucan's learning ... B. shows her usual poise in describing the poem itself.' Roland Mayer, King's College, London, The Classical Review

`The Bellum Ciuile of Lucan is a great work, of stupendous creation by a man who died at the age of 25...it certainly calls for attention as as impressive literary artefact. Dr Braund's introduction and notes are helpful.' Latomus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (1969)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0007IZTCO
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,593,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I had known it was another translation of Lucan, I would not have ordered it, BUT I would have made a mistake. This work has a better translation for the modern reader, and lots of good supporting information. Some of the comparisons I made with other versions make me wish I had this ten years ago. The notes are worth the price of the book!
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Lucan, the author of the full-throated but incomplete epic the "Civil War", certainly deserves a spot next to the great Latin poets Ovid, Horace, and Virgil, whose epic works mark the pinnacle eloquence and intelligence of Latin verse. The epic was written during the reign of Nero in the first century AD, and it is characterized by its vehement condemnation of civil war and imperialistic sentiments--this possibly caused Lucan's later fall out of Nero's favor. The primary characters in the epic are Julius Caesar, who is portrayed as a destructive warmonger, and Pompey (Magnus), who is described as ambitious and over his prime. The vivid descriptions of the wars in this work are exciting and at the same time sobering since Lucan's narrative never fails to reveal those attributes of civil war which invoke the most disturbing of feelings. For all this, Lucan's "Civil War" is recommended, and also because the Oxford World Classics always present reliable translations, and this particular edition retains Lucan's charming and long-winded verse that courses so smoothly through the hearts and minds reader's who are fortunate enough to come into contact with it.
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Braund is painfully literal, which may her translation great as an aid to my reading of the Latin text, but made the translation itself a bit unexciting. The trouble with Lucan, in my view, is that so many of his richest moments are also incredibly subtle. There's also no way to deny that it's difficult--very difficult--to render the geographical/astronomical/sophistic passages interesting to modern English readers.

Braund had a great set of notes at the end, too. (I wish these were footnotes, but beggars can't be choosers. There aren't many editions of English Lucan in print.)
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Great translation, but having to guess where the footnotes are makes this an unfortunate read. There are no footnote indicators in the text itself, you have to go to the end of the book to see the notes but they are not integrated into the main text. Strange, since the other Oxford classical texts are done properly.
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There are not many translations of Lucan's Civil War, sometimes titled Pharsalia.Susan H Braund's translation of Lucan's Civil War is a great translation. Lucan's Civil War is a work from the time of Nero and is incomplete due to the authors death. Nonetheless it is a great epic that is quite different from the others. It takes on a grotesque tone with descriptions of battles and descriptions of ghosts and witches. It takes place during the Civil War that saw Caesar rise to power and does not hide who Lucan supports. Some of the poetic use is lost in this translation due to its translation to Latin but it makes up for this with its explicit character. Braund captures the heterodox Stoicism that underlies the text and makes it appear not just in the overarching story but in the characters as they relate to each other. Passive Aggressive tones are captured just as well as the sense of foreboding and pessimism the text expresses.
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An underrated work of the Silver Age. There are some excellent epsiodes that could stand on their own as mini-epics: the suicides of Vulteius and comrades, Appius 'rape' of the Pythia, Caesar's journey by sea, Scaeva's aristeia, Erictho's necromancy, and Cato's journey through Africa to name just a few. The historical insights into the lives of Caesar, Pompey, and Cato are also especially enlightening. Absolutely worth a first and second look!
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