book III, a commentary
by Vincent Hunink
Gieben, Amsterdam 1992
In my first
major research project I studied Lucan's fascinating epic (or anti-epic) on the
civil war between Caesar and Pompeius. The poem was written during the reign of
Nero (about 60 to 65 A.D.) This was my main research project in the period 1988-1991.
It resulted in a PhD dissertation (1992).
epic Bellum Civile of the Roman poet Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (39-65) deals
with the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompeius in 49-47 B.C. Their
conflict is elaborately described in powerful verses full of paradox, witty
maxims, and strong pathos.
study is a commentary on the third book of Lucan's epic, on which no separate,
modern commentary was available as yet. The most important parts of Lucan's book
are a long catalogue of Pompey's troops, and a highly original account of a
naval battle near Marseille.
civile is a complex text, which
confronts its reader with countless problems, both textual, and linguistical and
thematic. The commentary attempts to identify the most important of these
problems and, wherever possible, formulate solutions to them. At many points the
Latin text is explained and interpreted first. This interpretation is made on
the basis of a general concept of the poem as, above all, a rhetorical poem.
The poet does not fully concentrate on matters of history and science, on
philosophical or political aspects, but always strives after maximum rhetorical
lemmata of the commentary focus on literary and rhetorical functions given to
the material in the poem. Special interest is paid to Lucan's transformations of
traditional epic material, from predecessors like Vergil and Ovid.
commentary is destined for several groups of readers, ranging from professional
Latinists to students of classics. Therefore, compromises had to be found on
many points. Throughout, the main aim of the commentator has been to facilitate
access to Lucan's text.
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