Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (3 November 39 AD – 30 April 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 the Imperial Latin period, known in particular for his epic Pharsalia. His youth and speed of composition set him apart from other poets.

Modern bust of Lucan in Córdoba. There are no ancient likenesses.
Modern bust of Lucan in Córdoba. There are no ancient likenesses.
BornAD 3 November 39
Corduba, Hispania Baetica, Roman Empire
DiedAD 30 April 65 (aged 25)
SpousePolla Argentaria


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 Martial, 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 his uncle 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.[1]

Engraved title page of a French edition of Lucan's Pharsalia, 1657

His wife was Polla Argentaria, who is said to have assisted him with his Pharsalia.[2]

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 between Julius Caesar and Pompey.

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 Lucan and forbade him to publish his poems.[3] According to Suetonius, Nero lost interest in Lucan and Lucan responded by writing insulting poems about Nero that Nero continued to ignore.[4]

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 that 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).[5] Statius's ode to Lucan mentions that Lucan described how the "unspeakable flames of the criminal tyrant roamed the heights of Remus."[6] 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 Tacitus, as 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 last words."[7]

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).


Pharsalia, 1740

According to Vacca and Statius, Lucan's works included:

Surviving work:

Often attributed to him (but to others as well):

  • Laus Pisonis (Praise of Piso), a panegyric of a member of the Piso family

Lost works:

  • Catachthonion
  • Iliacon from the Trojan cycle
  • Epigrammata
  • Adlocutio ad Pollam
  • Silvae
  • Saturnalia
  • Medea
  • Salticae Fabulae
  • Laudes Neronis, a praise of Nero
  • Orpheus
  • Prosa oratio in Octavium Sagittam
  • Epistulae ex Campania
  • De Incendio Urbis, on the Roman fire of 64, perhaps accusing Nero of arson


  1. ^ Suetonius, "Life of Lucan"
  2. ^ Hays, Mary (1807). "Polla Argentaria". Female Biography, vol 3. Philadelphia: Printed for Byrch and Small. p. 95. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  3. ^ Tacitus, Annals XV.49
  4. ^ Suetonius, "Life of Lucan"
  5. ^ Vacca, Life of Lucan
  6. ^ Statius, Silvae II.vii
  7. ^ 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.


Further reading

  • 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, Massachusetts: Harvard Univ. Pr., 1997.
  • Braund, Susanna M. (2008) Lucan: Civil War. Oxford World’s Classics. Oxford University Press.
  • Braund, Susanna M. (2009) A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil War. BC Latin Readers. Bolchazy-Carducci.
  • 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.
  • Fantham, Elaine (1992) De bello civili. Book II. Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics. Cambridge University Press.
  • ———. "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), 122–64.
  • Johnson, Walter R. Momentary Monsters: Lucan and His Heroes. Cornell Studies in Classical Philology 47. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Pr., 1987.
  • Lapidge, M. "Lucan's Imagery of Cosmic Dissolution." Hermes 107 (1979), 344–70.
  • 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 Rome 31 (1984), 64–79.
  • 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.
  • Matthews, Monica (2008) Caesar and the Storm: A Commentary on Lucan, De Bello Civili, Book 5, lines 476-721. Peter Lang.
  • Morford, M. P. O. The Poet Lucan. New York: Oxford Univ. Pr., 1967.
  • 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.
  • Wick, Claudia (2004) Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Bellum Civile, liber IX. I: Einleitung, Text und Übersetzung; II: Kommentar. K.G. Saur.
  • Wilson Joyce, Jane (1994) Lucan: Pharsalia. Cornell University Press.

External links

Charge of the Light Brigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade was a failed military action involving the British light cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War. British commander Lord Raglan had intended to send the Light Brigade to prevent the Russians from removing captured guns from overrun Turkish positions, a task for which the light cavalry were well-suited. However, there was miscommunication in the chain of command, and the Light Brigade was instead sent on a frontal assault against a different artillery battery, one well-prepared with excellent fields of defensive fire. The Light Brigade reached the battery under withering direct fire and scattered some of the gunners, but they were forced to retreat immediately, and the assault ended with very high British casualties and no decisive gains.

The events were the subject of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's narrative poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1854), published just six weeks after the event. Its lines emphasise the valour of the cavalry in bravely carrying out their orders, regardless of the nearly inevitable outcome. Blame has remained controversial for the miscommunication, as the order was vague and Louis Edward Nolan delivered the written orders with some verbal interpretation, then died in the first minute of the assault.

Coláiste Phádraig (Lucan)

Coláiste Phádraig (St.Patrick's College) is a Christian Brothers secondary school for boys in Lucan, County Dublin, Ireland. It is located in an estate called Roselawn with a relatively large campus that includes three basketball courts, two football pitches, a large school building and a modern sports hall which includes a school gym. Coláiste Phádraig is part of the Edmund Rice Trust schools.

Earl of Lucan

Earl of Lucan is a title which has been created twice in the Peerage of Ireland for related families.

Furor Teutonicus

Furor Teutonicus ("Teutonic Fury") is a Latin phrase referring to the proverbial ferocity of the Teutones, or more generally the Germanic tribes of the Roman Empire period.

The original expression is generally attributed to the Roman poet Lucan (d. AD 65). It occurs for the first time in his work Bellum civile/Pharsalia. Lucan used the term to describe what he believed to be the outstanding characteristic of the Germanic tribe called the Teutones: a mad, merciless, berserk rage in battle.The Teutons met with the armies of the Roman Republic in the Eastern Alps around 113 BC. The Romans, under the command of the Consul Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, tried to lure the tribe into a trap, but they underestimated their military potential and lost the Battle of Noreia. The Romans also lost the Battle of Arausio (105 BC) and other lesser battles, before putting Gaius Marius in charge of their defence. The Teutons were ultimately defeated in 102 BC.

George Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan

Field Marshal George Charles Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan, (16 April 1800 – 10 November 1888), styled Lord Bingham before 1839, was an Anglo-Irish aristocrat and British Army officer. He was a ruthless landlord during the Great Famine (Ireland), evicting thousands of his Irish tenants and renting his land to wealthy ranchers. He was one of three men, along with Captain Nolan and Lord Raglan, responsible for the fateful order during the Battle of Balaclava in October 1854 that led to the Light Brigade commander, The Earl of Cardigan, leading the Charge of the Light Brigade. Lord Lucan also came up with a solution that allowed Jews to sit in Parliament. He was subsequently promoted to field marshal.

George Bingham, 8th Earl of Lucan

George Charles Bingham, 8th Earl of Lucan (born 21 September 1967), styled Lord Bingham until 2016, is a British hereditary peer.

John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan

Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan (18 December 1934 – disappeared 8 November 1974), commonly known as Lord Lucan, was a British peer who disappeared after being suspected of murder. He was an Anglo-Irish aristocrat, the eldest son of George Bingham, 6th Earl of Lucan by his mother, Kaitlin Dawson. An evacuee during the Second World War, Lucan returned to attend Eton College, and then from 1953 to 1955 served with the Coldstream Guards in West Germany. He developed a taste for gambling and, skilled at backgammon and bridge, became an early member of the Clermont Club. Although his losses often exceeded his winnings, he left his job at a London-based merchant bank and became a professional gambler. He was known as Lord Bingham from April 1949 until January 1964, during his father's lifetime.

Once considered for the role of James Bond in the cinematic adaptations of Ian Fleming's novels, Lucan was known for his expensive tastes; he raced power boats and drove an Aston Martin. In 1963 he married Veronica Duncan, by whom he had three children. When the marriage collapsed late in 1972, he moved out of the family home at 46 Lower Belgrave Street, in London's Belgravia, to a property nearby. A bitter custody battle ensued, which Lucan lost. He began to spy on his wife and record their telephone conversations, apparently obsessed with regaining custody of the children. This fixation, combined with his gambling losses, had a dramatic effect on his life and personal finances.

On the evening of 7 November 1974, the children's nanny, Sandra Rivett, was bludgeoned to death in the basement of the Lucan family home. Lady Lucan was also attacked; she later identified Lucan as her assailant. As the police began their murder investigation, Lucan telephoned his mother, asking her to collect the children, and then drove a borrowed Ford Corsair to a friend's house in Uckfield, East Sussex. Hours later, he left the property and vanished without trace. The car was found abandoned in Newhaven, its interior stained with blood and its boot containing a piece of bandaged lead pipe similar to one found at the crime scene. A warrant for Lucan's arrest was issued a few days later, and in his absence the inquest into Rivett's death named him as her murderer, the last occasion in Britain a coroner's court did so.

Within Britain, there has been continuing interest in Lucan's fate. Since Rivett's murder, hundreds of reported sightings have been made in various countries around the world; none have been substantiated. Despite a police investigation and huge press interest, Lucan has not been found. He was presumed deceased in chambers on 11 December 1992 and declared legally dead in October 1999; a death certificate was issued in 2016.

Knights of the Round Table

The Knights of the Round Table were the knightly members of the legendary fellowship of the King Arthur in the literary cycle of the Matter of Britain, in which the first written record of them appears in the Roman de Brut written by the Norman poet Wace in 1155. In the legend, the Knights are an order in the service of Arthur, tasked with ensuring the peace of the kingdom and sometimes also charged with leading the quest for the Holy Grail. The Round Table at which they met was created to have no head or foot, representing the equality of all the members. Different stories presented different numbers of the Knights, ranging from only 12 to as many as 150 or more.

Lucan, Dublin

Lucan (; (Irish: Leamhcán, meaning "place of elms") is a village and Suburb located roughly 12km west of Dublin city centre, on the River Liffey near the Strawberry Beds and Lucan Weir, and at the confluence of the River Griffeen. The majority of the area lies under the jurisdiction of South Dublin county council while a small portion north of the Liffey, including Laraghcon, Westmanstown and St Catherine's Park / Lucan Demesne, lies under Fingal council control. Main road access is from the N4 bypass, and the M50 orbital motorway at junction 7.

Lucan Biddulph

Lucan Biddulph is an incorporated township in southwestern Ontario, Canada. It was formed on January 1, 1999, by amalgamating the Village of Lucan with Biddulph Township. The township had a population of 4,700 people in the Canada 2016 Census, up 8.3% from 4,388 people in 2011, and covers an area of 169.14 km2 of land within Middlesex County.

Lucan Community College

Lucan Community College is located in Lucan, Dublin in Ireland. It is a secondary school catering for students at Junior and Leaving Cert level. The college opened in 1987, as a replacement for the Lucan Vocational School, which had previously opened in the early 1950s. It is one of many secondary schools in the locality, with others including Coláiste Phádraig and Coláiste Cois Life. It is located beside a primary school and near a shopping centre. It is a mixed school with facilities that include football pitches and a large school hall for sports.

Lucan Irish

The Lucan Irish are a Junior ice hockey team based in Lucan Biddulph, Ontario. They play in the Provincial Junior Hockey League of the Ontario Hockey Association.

Lucan Manor

Lucan Manor was a historic Irish residence in Lucan, County Dublin. A manor house, it is remembered particularly for its association with the Sarsfield family.

The family first acquired Lucan when it was bought in 1566 by the Tudor era figure Sir William Sarsfield who passed it on to his younger son. The Manor remained in the hands of the Sarsfields until the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland when they were dispossessed of it due to Patrick Sarsfield's role in the Irish Rebellion of 1641. It was awarded to the Irish soldier Sir Theophilus Jones. After the Irish Restoration in 1660, the Sarsfields attempted to recover the estate. Despite their appeals being rejected in court, they were eventually able to secure its return following the intervention of Charles II. There were further disputes following the death of William Sarsfield in 1675, with the manor eventually passing to his daughter, Charlotte Sarsfield.

Charlotte Sarsfield married Agmondisham Vesey, and so was a grandmother of Charles Bingham, 1st Earl of Lucan. Through his daughter Lavinia, Charlotte is an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales who died in 1997.

Lucan Manor was demolished in the 1770s. Today, its Georgian era replacement, Lucan House, stands on the site.

Lucan Sarsfields GAA

Lucan Sarsfields (Irish: Sáirséalaigh Leamhcáin ) is a Gaelic Athletic Association club based in Lucan, Dublin, Ireland. It was founded in 1886, making it one of the oldest GAA clubs in Dublin. Sarsfields were one of 16 teams which contested the Dublin Senior Championship in 1887. They were also involved in the Senior Championship of 1892, and the club has fielded Gaelic football, hurling and camogie teams ever since.

Middlesex North

Middlesex North was a federal electoral district in Ontario, Canada, that was represented in the House of Commons of Canada from 1867 to 1917. It was created by the British North America Act of 1867 which divided the County of Middlesex into three ridings: the Middlesex North, Middlesex West and Middlesex East.

The North Riding consisted of the Townships of McGillivray and Biddulph (taken from the County of Huron), and Williams East, Williams West, Adelaide, and Lobo.

In 1882, it was redefined add the township of Stephen and the villages of Ailsa Craig, Lucan, Exeter and Parkhill, and to exclude the townships of Adelaide and Lobo.

In 1903, it was redefined to consist of the townships of Adelaide, Biddulph, Lobo, McGillivray, Williams East and Williams West, the town of Parkhill and the villages of Ailsa Craig and Lucan.

The electoral district was abolished in 1914 when it was redistributed between Middlesex East and Middlesex West ridings.

Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan

Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan (ca. 1660 – 21 August 1693), was an Irish Jacobite and soldier, belonging to an Irish Catholic family long settled in Ireland.Sarsfield gained his first military experience serving with an Anglo-Irish contingent of the French Army during the 1670s. When James II came to the throne he was commissioned in the English Army, and served during the suppression of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685. During the Glorious Revolution of 1688 he remained loyal to James and led an English cavalry detachment at the Wincanton Skirmish, the only military engagement of the campaign.

In 1689 Sarsfield accompanied James to Ireland and served in the Jacobite Irish Army. After an early setback at Sligo, he became one of the celebrated Jacobite leaders of the war, noted in particular for Sarsfield's Raid shortly before the Siege of Limerick in 1690. James rewarded him by making him an Earl in the Peerage of Ireland. After the war's end following a second siege of Limerick in 1691, he led the Flight of the Wild Geese which took thousands of Irish soldiers into exile in France where they continued to serve James. After a planned invasion of England had to be abandoned following a French naval defeat in 1692, Lord Lucan (as he then was) served in Flanders and was killed at the Battle of Landen in 1693.


De Bello Civili (Latin pronunciation: [deː bɛl.loː kiːˈwiː.liː]; On the Civil War), more commonly referred to as the Pharsalia, is a Roman epic poem by the poet Lucan, detailing the civil war between Julius Caesar and the forces of the Roman Senate led by Pompey the Great. The poem's title is a reference to the Battle of Pharsalus, which occurred in 48 BC, near Pharsalus, Thessaly, in northern Greece. Caesar decisively defeated Pompey in this battle, which occupies all of the epic's seventh book. In the early twentieth century, translator J. D. Duff, while arguing that "no reasonable judgment can rank Lucan among the world's great epic poets", notes that the work is notable for Lucan's decision to eschew divine intervention and downplay supernatural occurrences in the events of the story. Scholarly estimation of Lucan's poem and poetry has since changed, as explained by commentator Philip Hardie in 2013: "In recent decades, it has undergone a thorough critical re-evaluation, to re-emerge as a major expression of Neronian politics and aesthetics, a poem whose studied artifice enacts a complex relationship between poetic fantasy and historical reality."

R120 road (Ireland)

The R120 road is a regional road in south County Dublin, Ireland. It runs from Lucan, County Dublin to Rathcoole.

The official description of the R120 from the Roads Act 1993 (Classification of Regional Roads) Order 2012 reads:

R120: Lucan - Rathcoole - Corbally, County DublinBetween its junction with R835 at Lucan Road in the town of Lucan and its junction with N7 at Rathcoole via Fitzmaurice Road, Adamstown Road and Lock Road in the town of Lucan; Twelfth Lock, Milltown; Peamount Cross, Newcastle; Rathcreedan, College Lane and Fitzmaurice Road all in the county of South Dublin.

R121 road (Ireland)

The R121 road is a regional road in south County Dublin and Fingal, Ireland.

The official description of the R121 from the Roads Act 1993 (Classification of Regional Roads) Order 2012 reads:

R121: Lucan - Blanchardstown - Skephubble, County DublinBetween its junction with R835 at Leixlip Road in the town of Lucan in the county of South Dublin and its junction with R122 at Skephubble in the county of Fingal via Main Street (and via Dispensary Lane) in the town of Lucan; and Lucan Bridge in the county of South Dublin: Laraghcon, Westmanstown, Barberstown Cross, Woodwall Road, Luttrellstown Cross, Clonsilla Road, Blanchardstown Road South, Blanchardstown Road North, Cruisrath Road, Tyrrelstown Road, Hollywoodrath, Ward Lower and Newpark all in the county of Fingal.

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