M. Annaeus Lucanus Cordubensis77 prima ingenii experimenta in “Neronis laudibus” dedit quinquennali certamine, dein78 “Civile Bellum,” quod a79 Pompeio et Caesare gestum est, recitavit,80 ut praefatione quadam aetatem et initia sua cum Vergilio comparans ausus sit dicere:
et quantum mihi restat Ad Culicem?
Hic initio adolescentiae, cum ob infestum matrimonium patrem suum ruri agere longissime cognovisset*** Revocatus Athenis a Nerone cohortique amicorum additus atque etiam quaestura honoratus, non tamen permansit in gratia. Siquidem aegre ferens, recitante81 se subito ac nulla nisi refrigerandi sui causa indicto senatu recessisse,82 neque verbis adversus principem neque factis exstantibus83 post haec temperavit, adeo ut quondam in latrinis publicis clariore cum strepitu84 ventris emissi85 hemistichium Neronis magna consessorum fuga pronuntiarit:
- 77M. . . . Cordubensis, MB; omitted by P.
- 78Hosius indicates a lacuna after dein.
- 79a, Baumgarten-Crusius; cum, mss.
- 80Hosius indicates a lacuna after recitavit; the codex Berolinensis, 35 has sub tantae levitatis et immoderatae linguae fuit.
- 81Reiff. and Hosius insert quod Nero se before recitante.
- 82recessisset, MP (Reiff., Hosius).
- 83exstantibus, M; excitantibus, Jahn, Hosius.
- 84strepitu, B; crepitu, P; trepitu, M.
- 85Regarded by Reiff. as due to dittography.
The Life of Lucan
Marcus Annaeus Lucanus of Corduba made his first appearance as a poet with a “Eulogy of Nero” at the emperor’s Quinquennial Contests,53 and then gave a public reading of his poem on the “Civil War” waged between Pompey and Caesar. In a kind of introduction to the latter, comparing his time of life and his first essays with those of Virgil, he had the audacity to ask:
How far, pray, do I fall short of the Culex?54
In his early youth, learning that his father was living in the remote country districts because of an unhappy marriage.... He was recalled from Athens by Nero and made one of his intimate friends, besides being honoured with the quaestorship; but he could not keep the emperor’s favour. For piqued because Nero had suddenly called a meeting of the senate and gone out when he was giving a reading, with no other motive than to throw cold water on the performance,55 he afterwards did not refrain from words and acts of hostility to the prince, which are still notorious. Once for example in a public privy, when he relieved his bowels with an uncommonly loud noise, he shouted out this half line of the emperor’s, while those who were there for the same purpose took to their heels: