Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (A.D. 39 - 65), nephew of Seneca the Younger.

Lucan was looked upon highly by then-emporer Nero, who, being rather erratic and emotional, became very envious of Lucan's writing ability, and banned public readings of poetry written by him. Because of this, and being rather irrational himself, he joined a conspiracy group who wanted to assasinate Nero (see Gaius Calpurnius Piso). He Lucan was found out, and felt it necessary to commit suicide. Supposedly, he died reciting his own poetry describing a soldier's death.

His suriving poem is called: The Bellum Civile or Pharsalia, an account of the Julius Caesar and Pompey.

A translation of an ancient biography of Lucan:

I. M. Annaeus Lucanus of Cordoba recited the first attempts of his genious at the 5-year anniversary games of Nero. There he recited the Bellum Civile, which dealt with the things done by Caesar and Pompey, such that as a preface, comparing his youth and own poetic beginnings with Vergil, he dared to say: "And how much time remains for me to write my Culex?". (side note: Lucan was about 19 when this was supposed to have happened; Vergil's Culex (not by Vergil) was said to have been written when he was 26).


Recalled from Athens by Nero and added to his circle of friends, even honored with a public office (the Quaestorship), he nevertheless didn't remain in Nero's good graces for long: He was pissed off that Nero, while he was reciting, just for the sake of spite, broke off and called the senate into session (to interupt him). He didn't turn against the emperor in word or deed after that, until, as he was sitting in a public toilet, he let out a great fart, such that most of the people around him fled when he excused it with a half line of Nero's poetry: "You would think that it had thundered underneath the earth".

But even as with that famous poem he tore into him, so, most importantly, he ripped on the most powerful of his friends. He became almost a rallying point for the Pisonian conspiracy, often openly talking about the glory that could be won by tyrannicides and full of threats, until he stupidly made a remark that he would have the head of Caesar. Now that the conspiracy had been uncovered, no equal constancy of spirit remained for him. He confessed easily, and was reduced to the most humiliating of prayers, naming even his mother among the conspirators, hoping that he'd be spared by the emperor through parricide. Imprisoned before his death, he sent several chapters of revisions to his father containing verses of his work to be corrected, and finally, throwing a rich banquet, he brought in a doctor to cut open his veins. I recall some of his poems were collected and put up for sale, not only the finished ones but also the inept works.

Okay, so he was tortured and sold his mother up the river; but, quite frankly, I couldn't tell you everybody I'd take down with me if I knew I were going to die. There's one more vita, but that one's less interesting (and too long to node), except for the list of his works at the end:

The remaining works of his and others are: an Iliacon, a Saturnalia, Catachtonion, 10 Books of Silvae, an unfinished tragedy on Medea, 14 witty little fables and other poems, a prose piece defending and prosecuting Octavius Sagitta] (Maybe I'll node that one day, but for now he was a notable Roman involved in several rather famous sex scandals), a book on the burning of the city, letters from Campania, not all to be despised, all of which seem to be nothing but preludes to his Civil War.

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