"Old books that have ceased to be of service should no more be abandoned than should old friends who have ceased to give pleasure."― Bernard Baruch
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Featured Book: Lucan’s Pharsalia and the Tragedies of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, 1612
Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (known in the English-speaking world as Lucan) was a Roman epic poet during the reign of Emporor Nero. Despite his short life, he is regarded as one of the outstanding figures of the Silver Age of Latin literature, and his youth and speed of composition set him apart from other poets. His masterwork “Pharsalia” was perhaps most celebrated during the Middle Ages, but his work also had tremendous influence on the poetry and drama of the 17th Century.
Lucan was born in Hispania Baetica (modern-day Córdoba, Spain). He was the grandson of Seneca the Elder and grew up under the tutelage of his uncle, Seneca the Younger. Born into a wealthy family, he was able to study rhetoric at Athens and was probably provided with a philosophical and Stoicist education by his uncle and others.
He found favour with the Emperor Nero, due to his early promise as a rhetorician and orator, and the two became close friends. Lucan was rewarded with a quaestorship in advance of the legal age, and then an appointment to the augurate in 60 CE, after he had won a prize at the quinquennial Neronia (a grand Greek-style arts festival established by Nero). During this time, he circulated the first three books of his epic poem, “Pharsalia” (“De Bello Civili”), which told the story of the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey in epic fashion.
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