Lucan, The Civil War

LCL 220: 2-3

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M. Annaeus Lucanus

M. Annaei Lucani De Bello Civili

Liber Primus

Bella per Emathios plus quam civilia campos, Iusque datum sceleri canimus, populumque potentem In sua victrici conversum viscera dextra, Cognatasque acies, et rupto foedere regni 5Certatum totis concussi viribus orbis In commune nefas, infestisque obvia signis Signa, pares aquilas et pila minantia pilis.

Quis furor, o cives, quae tanta licentia ferri? Gentibus invisis Latium praebere cruorem, 10Cumque superba foret Babylon spolianda tropaeis Ausoniis umbraque erraret Crassus inulta, Bella geri placuit nullos habitura triumphos? Heu, quantum terrae potuit pelagique parari Hoc quem civiles hauserunt sanguine dextrae, 15Unde venit Titan, et nox ubi sidera condit, Quaque dies medius flagrantibus aestuat auris,1


Book I

Lucan the Civil War

Book I

Of war I sing, war worse than civil,1 waged over the plains of Emathia,2 and of legality conferred on crime; I tell how an imperial people turned their victorious right hands against their own vitals; how kindred fought against kindred; how, when the compact of tyranny3 was shattered, all the forces of the shaken world contended to make mankind guilty; how standards confronted hostile standards, eagles were matched against each other, and pilum4 threatened pilum.

What madness was this, my countrymen, what fierce orgy of slaughter? While the ghost of Crassus still wandered unavenged, and it was your duty to rob proud Babylon5 of her trophies over Italy, did you choose to give to hated nations the spectacle of Roman bloodshed, and to wage wars that could win no triumphs? Ah! with that blood shed by Roman hands how much of earth and sea might have been bought—where the sun rises and where night hides

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.lucan-civil_war.1928