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A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil War

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Series: BC Latin Readers
Author: Susanna Braund
Product Code: 6617
ISBN: 978-0-86516-661-5
Pages: 168
Availability: In stock.
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Lucan's epic poem, Civil War, portrays the stark, dark horror of the years 49 through 48 BCE, the grim reality of Romans fighting Romans, of Julius Caesar vs. Pompey the Great. The introduction to this volume situates Lucan as a poet closely connected with the Stoics at Rome, working during the reign of the emperor Nero, in the genre inherited from Virgil.


The selections are intended for third- and fourth-year college curricula, and include Lucan's analysis of the causes of the civil war, depictions of his protagonists Caesar and Pompey at key moments—Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, the assassination of Pompey as he arrives in Egypt seeking refuge, Cato's funeral oration for Pompey, Caesar's visit to the site of Troy—as well as highly atmospheric passages: Pompey's vision of his dead wife, Julia; and the necromancy performed by the witch Erichtho for Pompey's son.


Notes to the passages illuminate Lucan's attitude towards his material—his reluctance to tackle the topic of civil war, his complicated relationship with Virgil's Aeneid, and his passionate involvement in the events through the rhetorical device of apostrophe, when he seems to enter the poem as a character himself.


Special Features

  • Introduction that situates Lucan in his literary, historical, and ideological context
  • 620 lines of Latin text from Lucan’s Civil War, including: 1.1–45, 67–157, 183–227, 486–504; 3.8–35; 399–445 6.624–53; 7.617–37; 7.647–82, 728–46, 760–811; 8.542–636, 663–88; 9.190–217; 9.961–99
  • Notes at the back
  • Map of the eastern Mediterranean in Caesar’s day
  • Bibliography
  • Full Vocabulary

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Reviews

Review by: Daniel Erickson, University of North Dakota - April 21, 2010
A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil War By SUSANNA BRAUN D. Mundelein IL: Bolchazy-Carducci. 2009. Pp. xxxiv and 134. Paper. $19. Susanna Braund. a noted teacher and Lucanian scholar, presents in this book a selection of 600 lines from the Bellum Civile that give the reader a fine glimpse of the poem and an appreciation of its greatness. The Latin text is supplemented by a thorough introduction, extensive commentary. and ample vocabulary. The book is appropriate for advanced high school learners and for both intermediate and advanced college students. Braund's twenty-six page introduction is well written and supplies essential information for the study of Lucan's poem. First, it deals with his life and times. the civil war, his handling of the epic genre. the poem's basic contents, and its structure. It continues with the role of the gods, Lucan's Stoicism, the cast of characters, his Latin, and other fascinating topics. It concludes with a bibliography organized under these topics: "Introductory Reading," "The Poem as a Whole," "Particular Aspects of the Poem," and "Lucan in the Context of Roman Epic." Few books of this type offer such a thorough introduction. The author employs Housman's Latin text with some variations, which are indicated on p. 1. Braund, like Housman, uses consonantal u instead of v. She does not employ macrons in order to accustom students to working with macronless texts, which they will experience on AP examinations. However, they are employed in the end vocabulary. The selections are so carefully chosen that they not only convey the full flavor of the Civil War but also make one eager to read the whole work. Braund's seventy-seven page commentary is absolutely wonderful. Therein she offers a line-by-line analysis of the poem, which is quite remarkable. She treats not only points of grammar and difficult sentences but also supplies notes on metrics, Lucan's genius, historical and geographical matters, and other material that is beneficial to the student. In sum, A Lucan Reader is a superb, student-friendly textbook that provides learners with the tools necessary to comprehend, interpret, and appreciate its well-chosen selections. The map is clear, simple, and shows all important locations encountered in the book. This writer could find no misprints (deo gracias!); but if there are any that were missed, the perceptive student should be able to recognize them. Too often authors write texts that deal with only "Golden Age" Latin. Much good literature was written during the "Silver Age" as well, and Braund is to be commended for her diligence in helping us understand and appreciate Lucan's Bellum Civile, an excellent, Silver-Age poem. - Daniel N. Erickson University of North Dakota Classical Outlook, Winter 2010 Vol 87, No. 2
Review by: Stephen Chambers, JACT - October 1, 2009
A LUCAN READER: SELECTIONS FROM CIVIL WAR, By Susanna Braund Bolchazy-Carducci (2009) p/b 134pp (ISBN 978-0-86516-661-5) I should like to think that this book would have a market in our schools because it has many merits and very few weaknesses - to start with the latter, because budgets are precious, the Latin of Lucan is not easy and he is never a set author below undergraduate level. So, why buy the book? B.'s introduction sets the extracts (620 lines chosen from the whole, unfinished epic) and the author in their literary, historical and ideological context. This helps enormously to explain both why he has been neglected in comparison with Virgil and why Civil War should be read as something other than a Silver Latin epic, representative of a period in decline. (B. is, like me, a fan of Philip Hardie's The Epic Successors of Virgil). There are sections on Lucan's life and times: a grandson and nephew of the Senecas and a friend of Nero, he committed suicide at the age of 25 (described by Tacitus, Annals, XV, 70); on the civil war between Caesar and Pompey which is the subject of the poem; on the role of Fate and Fortune in Civil War (the absence of the anthropomorphic Olympians is one of the things which sets this epic apart from its predecessors); on the cast of characters in the text, with Cato as the third protagonist (n.b. no 'hero'); on Lucan's Latin and some aspects of his style. I missed some help with his poetics; I wanted more than this one sentence, 'In contrast with Virgil's versatile and musical handling of the hexameter, Lucan's rhythm is rather repetitive, even monotonous' . The notes are very good; the vocabulary is comprehensive. There is a lot of help for students translating the extracts independently: abbreviated forms are explained, Golden Lines analyzed, ablative absolutes identified, long sentences broken down, difficult phrases translated either literally or idiomatically. In comparison with some modem editions like Peter Jones' recent Reading Ovid, this reader may seem old-fashioned; it certainly offers less guidance for students on aspects of literary appreciation, which is a shame because B. 's passionate advocacy of this neglected poet and poem (see also her introduction and translation in the Oxford World's Classics series) is extremely helpful in justifying their inclusion in our crowded curriculum. Dante (Inferno 4. 95-5) placed him alongside Homer, Horace, Ovid and Virgil in la bella scuola: who are we to disagree? If you cannot afford a set for a Sixth Form class, then buy one for yourself and one for the library: you will not be disappointed. Stephen Chambers - Oundle School
Review by: Timothy Joseph, Classical Journal Online 2009.08.03 - August 11, 2009
Subject: [CJ-ONLINE] CJ Forum Online 2009.08.03 BRAUND, Lucan Reader A Lucan Reader: Selections from “Civil War.” Edited by SUSANNA BRAUND. Mundelein, IL: Bolchazy–Carducci Publishers, 2009. Pp. xxxiv + 134. Paper, $19.00. ISBN 978–0–86516–661–5. Order this text for $19.00 from Amazon.com using this link and benefit CAMWS and the Classical Journal: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect-home/classjourn-20 Previously published CJ Online reviews are at http://classicaljournal.org/reviews.php CJ Online 2009.08.03 Though scholarly interest in Lucan has flourished over the last 35 years, the task of bringing his poem to the collegiate classroom has gotten few takers. [[1]] Braund’s (B.) reader marks a significant step forward, and will be welcomed by all who wish to introduce the Bellum Civile to undergraduate students. This is the first to be published in a series of Latin readers (edited by Ronnie Ancona) intended “for intermediate or advanced college Latin study.” According to the inside front cover, the series aims to keep the selected passages at 500–600 lines in order to be “ideal to use in combination.” So perhaps the greatest challenge for the editor of this volume is selecting from Lucan’s epic of over 8,000 lines a small set of passages that reflect the character of the poem. On this count, as I discuss below, B. has chosen fitting excerpts, though she seems to conspicuously avoid some of the poem’s more problematic and thus thought-provoking passages. Accompanying B.’s selections, which in toto add up to 620 lines, are a wide-ranging introduction, a detailed commentary on the selections, a full vocabulary for the passages, and a map of the Eastern Mediterranean in Caesar’s day. The introduction (pp. ix–xxxiv) has 16 sections on the context of the Bellum Civile and on aspects of the poem itself. [[2]] Most substantial are the thorough discussion of Lucan’s life and times (pp. ix–xii), an historical contextualization and recap of the war between Caesar and Pompey (pp. xiii–xvi), and a section on the hallmarks of Lucan’s Latin—his frequent use of sententiae and paradox, and the horrific realism of his diction (pp. xxx–xxxii). In the introduction B. also addresses important literary issues such as Lucan’s (not uncommon) choice of epic for this historical topic (pp. xvi–xvii); the influence of Stoicism on the poem (p. xxiv); Lucan’s unique incorporation of the supernatural (pp. xxiv–xxv); and his diverse but famously hero-less cast (pp. xxv–xxviii). An up-to-date list of suggested reading (pp. xxxii–xxxiv) offers ample resources for further inquiry. Absent is a section on meter; teachers will need to supplement the volume with separate material on dactylic hexameter. Of great use in the introduction is a detailed outline of the poem (pp. xvii–xxii), which serves to contextualize the excerpts and helpfully summarize the contents of each book, including those (namely Books 2, 4, 5 and 10) that are not represented in the reader. B. concludes the outline by writing that in Book 10 “our text breaks off, curiously at the same point as Caesar’s narrative of the civil war in his commentaries” (p. xxii); then in her section on the scope of the poem (pp. xxii–xxiii) she considers only that the poem might have been unfinished at the time of Lucan’s death, or that the remaining text was lost. The curious end of the Bellum Civile has been the subject of much debate, with ramifications for our understanding of the poem. Though this volume is no place for a full engagement in the discussion, B. might have directed the reader to Jamie Masters’ influential argument for the poem being finished as it is, and so for a deliberate “endlessness” to Lucan’s civil war. [[3]] Masters’ argument is in fact in tune with the reading of Lucan as a convention-bucking, “perversive” epic poet that B. emphasizes throughout her introduction and commentary. The passages B. has selected allot equal coverage to Lucan’s two main characters, Caesar and Pompey. After the presentation of the war’s causes and the initial portrait of the two men (Book 1.67–157), we are given Caesar at the Rubicon (1.183–227), chopping down the sacred grove in Massilia (3.399–445), on the battlefield after Pharsalia (7.728–46, 760–811), and visiting the ruins of Troy (9.961–99), a passage also important for its programmatic assertions about Caesar’s, and Lucan’s own, fama. For Pompey, we have the visit of the ghost of Julia (3.8–35), his departure from Pharsalia (7.647–82), his death and final words in Egypt (8.542–636, 663–88), and Cato’s funeral oration (9.190–217). Caesar’s assault on the sacred grove (which B. at 59 neatly brands a locus horridus, an inversion of the topos of the locus amoenus) and the account of Erichtho’s preparations for a necromancy (6.624–53) serve as nice representative slices of Lucan’s interest in the mysterious and macabre. The first selected passage is, naturally, Lucan’s proem and exposition of his theme, followed by the beginning of the poet’s address to Nero (1.1–45). But B. does not include the section of the address (1.45–66, considering in detail which celestial seat will best suit the deified emperor) that is most extravagant (and peculiar) in its praise, and thus suspicious in the eyes of those who read the passage as ironic or even subversive. [[4]] In her introduction B. writes that “it is certainly possible to take Lucan’s praise of Nero as the expected tribute paid by a poet to the autocrat who held absolute power in the Roman state” (p. xi). But without seeing this passage in full, students will miss out on a debate suitable to—and stimulating for—readers of the poem at any level. Another problematic and thus important passage that suffers a curious omission is from Book 7. B. includes 7.617–37 (the conclusion of the Battle of Pharsalia) and 647–82 (Pompey’s flight), but leaves out the intervening verses. These nine lines, in which Lucan casts contemporary Romans as slaves living under a master, are perhaps his strongest condemnation of the principate that resulted from Caesar’s victory at Pharsalia. B. states in the introduction that “to my mind, there is no reason to posit any growing discontent with either Nero or the Principate” (p. xii). But passages such as this one (as well as e.g. 7.440–59, 695–6—both also missing from this volume) invite us to read the Bellum Civile as a critique of the principate, and correspondingly to question the fulsome praise of the emperor at 1.33–66. B. states in the preface that Lucan’s Latin “can be very difficult and the articulation of his ideas sometimes seems downright perverse” (p. vii). Few who have read the Bellum Civile would disagree. To this end, her commentary is at nearly every turn helpful to and appropriate for the student with only three or four years of Latin. Each excerpt is introduced in the commentary by a clear contextualization of the passage. The notes that follow address chiefly grammar, syntax and vocabulary, while also explaining relevant historical and cultural details, and noting some literary features. B. is especially helpful when reordering Lucan’s often terse and twisted sentences (such as 1.13–14 and 3.14–15) or unwinding his “tangled thoughts” (as she accurately describes 7.784–6). Thankfully, she also addresses a common classroom problem, by regularly encouraging students to translate ablative absolutes as separate clauses (on 1.501, 1.503 and elsewhere). And B. has a close eye for Lucan’s repeated use of paradox, as in his presentation at 1.486–504 of Rome as an urbs capta (though it has not in fact been sacked), and for important thematic words such as furor and nefas, whose presence and potency she notes throughout. The commentary is perhaps too helpful in its discussion of morphology and syntax. For example, we read on 1.81–2 that hunc agrees with modum, when there are no other nouns in the accusative or singular in this sentence; and we are told on 7.617 that inpendisse is a perfect infinitive. These are forms an intermediate or advanced college student should be able to identify. Also, throughout the commentary (on 1.82, 1.129 and passim) B. notes that 3rd-person plural perfect active indicative forms ending in -ere should be read as -erunt. As in many Latin authors, in Lucan -ere is by far more common (e.g. 35 times in Book 1, vs. 12 appearances of -erunt; in Book 7 the numbers are 25 and 5). Explaining every occurrence (even when the form cannot be confused with a homonym) may be counterproductive for a student adjusting to reading real Latin. These are minor critiques of what will be an immensely valuable book in the collegiate Latin classroom. Though many teachers will want to supplement B.’s selections to better represent the poem’s complexities, on the whole this much-needed reader makes an excellent introduction to, and guide through, Lucan’s world. [[5]] TIMOTHY JOSEPH College of the Holy Cross [[1]] Commentaries on single books that remain available and are suitable to undergraduates at various levels of experience are R.J. Getty on Book 1 (London, [1940] 2007); Elaine Fantham on Book 2 (Cambridge, 1992); O. Dilke on Book 7 (London, [1960] 1998); Roland Mayer on Book 8 (Warminster, 1981); and David Kubiak on Book 9 (Bryn Mawr, 2001). [[2]] The introduction is to a great extent a shortened version of B.’s introduction to her 1992 translation of the poem (Oxford, 1992) xiii–liv. [[3]] Jamie Masters, Poetry and Civil War in Lucan’s Bellum Civile (Cambridge, 1992) 216–59. [[4]] Discussing the range of interpretations of Lucan’s invocation of Nero, and referring to further scholarship, are Frederick Ahl, Lucan: An Introduction (Ithaca, 1976) 47–9, with n. 54; and Shadi Bartsch, Ideology in Cold Blood: A Reading of Lucan’s Civil War (Cambridge, MA, 1997) 61–2 and 173 n. 46. A compelling ironic reading of Lucan’s panegyric is made by Stephen Hinds, “Generalising about Ovid,” Ramus 16: 4–31, at 26–9. [[5]] I spotted just three typos: on p. 71 the word “from” belongs before “sticking and congealing”; on p. 77 read “Pompeians” for “Pompians”; and on p. 97 read “2.67–233” for “2.16–33.”
Review by: Jennifer Thomas, Grinnell College - June 21, 2009
Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2009.06.21 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Susanna Braund, A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil War. BC Latin Readers. Mundelein, Ill.: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 2009. Pp. xxxiv, 134. ISBN 9780865166615. $19.00 (pb). -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Reviewed by Jennifer E. Thomas, Grinnell College (thomasje@grinnell.edu) Word count: 1051 words Although I have written a little review for a little book, I hope the brevity of my remarks will not detract from the importance of the work discussed. A Lucan Reader is the inaugural publication of the BC Latin Readers, a new series from Bolchazy-Carducci. If the rest of the series live up to the high standards of this volume, the series will be a welcome addition to the college and even high school Latin classroom. I shall first say a few words on the series and then speak on the specific volume in question. BC Latin Readers aim to provide teachers of intermediate and advanced Latin courses with small, affordable texts that expand the repertoire normally taught at this level. Forthcoming Readers will be devoted to authors, genres, and topics, e.g. Apuleius, Latin Epic, and Roman Women. Like A Lucan Reader, each volume will contain around 600 lines of Latin together with introductory notes, commentary, and vocabulary, making it an all-in-one textbook (and one that, in this reviewer's experience, fits easily into a jacket pocket or small purse). The size of these volumes (both physical and in terms of line numbers) has been kept to a minimum to allow for easy mix-and-matching with other texts. The present Lucan volume could be incorporated into any number of courses and would pair excellently with Virgil, Ovid, Tacitus, Caesar, Livy, or Seneca, just to name the authors who first came to my mind. More information on the series in general and its forthcoming volumes may be found at the BC Classical Readers website. Susanna Braund (hereafter B.) has started this new series off in fine style with a text that makes Lucan accessible to Latin students at the intermediate level, no easy accomplishment given the difficulty of Lucan's poem. Her introduction situates both Lucan and the Civil War in their respective historical contexts; she includes both an overview of the war between Caesar and Pompey, with parenthetical references to Lucan's poem, and a summary of the poem in greater detail. B. also introduces the major thematic issues and briar patches of the Bellum Civile: the issue of the poem's completion, Lucan's politics, the role of the gods, Stoic influence, the 'hero' of the poem, Lucan's authorial interventions, and the style and language of the epic. Considering the lack of consensus on so many of these issues amongst Lucan scholars, I found her approach very balanced. The themes of "horror" and "delay" (à la Henderson) are pronounced above others, but, for the most part, her interpretations are traditional or judgment is reserved. On the subject of politics, B. asserts that "to [her] mind, there is no reason to posit any growing discontent with either Nero or the Principate" (xii). As a politicizing reader of Lucan, I found her evidence for this assertion a bit of a straw man, but, as she says, "Lucan's ideological stance remains the most contentious issue in the interpretation of his poem" (xii). Since no interpretation on this line pleases everyone, I am satisfied that the issue was at least brought up and presented to students in some form. On the question of the poem's completion, however, B. does not present at all the theory that the poem is complete as we have it, a view held by many scholars these days after being so articulately argued in Masters' Poetry and Civil War in Lucan's Bellum Civile (1992). Instead B. states that the poem "breaks off" in Book 10 and asks, "Was it unfinished at the time of Lucan's death ... or was part of the text lost at a very early stage?" (xxii) After presenting some alternatives, she suggests that an ending in 12 books at Cato's suicide "has the advantage of literary coherence." She repeats this view throughout the commentary, e.g. on Cato's expanded role in Book 9: "we can assume that Lucan planned a major role for him in the remainder of the poem" (95). This hypothesis certainly has many supporters, but is far from universal. That many scholars believe the poem to be complete should have been brought up and presented to students; at the very least, it should not have been presented as undisputed fact that the poem is unfinished. The text of the reader consists of 15 passages: 1.1-45, 67-157, 183-227, 486-504; 3.8-35, 399-445; 6.624-53; 7.617-37, 647-82, 728-46, 760-811; 8.542-636, 663-88; 9.190-217, 961-99. They total 620 lines. The average, then, is 41 lines, but this figure is rather misleading as the book consists mostly of shorter passage (around 25 lines) with one or two very long passages (90 lines). The passages chosen support B.'s foregrounding of "horror" and "delay," as they highlight the poem's supernatural incidents and authorial interventions. For example, in between the justifiably larger selections from Books 1 and 7 occur just three passages: Julia's ghost, Caesar in the Celtic grove, and a brief snippet of Erichtho, which are certainly the best for showing Lucan's interest in "horror" at the expense of historical accuracy, since all three passages are Lucanian inventions. I am not sure that students reading B.'s selections will have a really complete picture of the BC, but I'm also not sure this would be possible with any 620 line selection, and, after all, de gustibus non disputandum. Based on the length of the passages and grammatical detail in the commentary, I feel this book is ideal for intermediate students, although more advanced students will also find it valuable. The notes are admirably thorough in information grammatical, historical, and cultural. I particularly appreciate B.'s tendency in difficult passages to offer in the notes a reordering of the Latin rather than a translation for the student. This is a wonderful solution to Lucan's particular difficulties. I am very happy that Bolchazy-Carducci put Lucan in the vanguard of their new series of Readers. This text will make it much easier to teach Lucan to undergraduates; and, despite our 'ideological' disagreements, I think B. will succeed with this volume in "provok[ing] students to study this amazing poem in greater depth" (p. vii). I found this text quite free from typographical errors. I did notice that "epulae" has been left out of the vocabulary--students searching for its meaning in the commentary (ad 7.792) will likely come away with the idea that it means "breakfast"!
Review by: Sharon Kazmierski, The Classical Outlook - June 1, 2009
GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES Bolchazy-Carducci has recently commenced launching the first titles in its Latin Reader series, a new collection of innovative high intermediate and advanced Latin readers, specifically designed for college-level study. Under the expert guidance of series editor Ronnie Ancona, Professor of Classics at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, these small, duodecimo-sized paperbacks are intended to introduce authors and genres to students in upper division undergraduate courses. Written by recognized experts, each book will include approximately 500-600 lines of authentic Latin text, accompanied by a thorough introduction, bibliography of suggested reading, annotated commentary, and full vocabulary. There are currently two volumes available, A Lucan Reader: Selections from Civil war (ISBN 978-0865166615) by Susanna Braund and A Terence Reader: Selections from Six Plays (978-0865166783) by William S. Anderson. According to the Bolchazy website, seventeen additional volumes are currently scheduled to be issued. Upcoming authors include Plautus, Sallust, Cicero, Sueconius, Tacitus, Vergil, Caesar, Martial, Apuleius, and Livy. Topics co be covered include Roman Women, Roman Verse Satire, Latin Epic, and Roman Army. Additional authors and themes are under consideration. The inaugural volume, A Lucan Reader, is an introduction to the Silver Age epic poem (often referred to as Pharsalia) retelling the events of the Civil War between Julius Caesar and Pompey. Rarely studied by third and fourth-year college Latin students, this reader provides the opportunity for advanced undergraduates to sample some difficult but fascinating Latin. Following a detailed and compelling introduction, Braund has selected high interest passages: the causes of the Civil war, Caesar at the Rubicon, the abandonment of Rome, the necromancy of Erichtho, Pompey's visitation by Julia's ghost, and Caesar in Troy. I have never read Lucan, but now find myself intrigued. The second volume, A Terence Reader, released just this summer, is an introduction to Roman Comedy. Following a consistent format, Anderson's introduction provides essential background for students and a brief history of Roman Comedy. He then proceeds to explain what made Terence's plays unique, original and thought-provoking. Selections in this volume include excerpts from Andria, Heauton, Phormia, Hecyra, Eunuchus, and Adelphoe, followed by commentary to put the passages in context and provide grammatical assistance. There is also a helpful appendix, with information regarding comic meters. Fans of comedy will be happy to know that the next volume in the series, to be released later this year, will be A Plautus Reader: Selections from Eleven Plays (ISBN 978- 0-86516-694-2) by John Henderson. Given the size of these short readers, teachers and professors should find them useful when customizing a course. Professor Ancona notes that they are ideal for use in combination. I observe that they are inexpensive ($19.95) compared to many college textbooks. Instructors can feel free to mix and match authors and themes to suit their curriculum without causing too much damage to their students' bank accounts. Motivated readers of Latin can sample new authors and themes with expert guidance. Secondary school teachers may even wish to challenge their skilled Advanced Placement students after completing the exam, using some of these selections as a follow-up to the anticipated Caesar/Vergil syllabus. To discover more about this intriguing new collection, visit the BC Latin Readers website at http://www.bolchazy. com/readers/ where you can find out more about what will be included in each volume as well as read a short biography of each series author. To see Bolchazy's complete catalog, visit the main website at http://www.bolchazy.com. Questions may be directed to their customer service at info@bolchazy.com. You may also write their headquarters at Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc., 1570 Baskin Road, Mundelein, Illinois 60060, Tel, (800) 392- 6453, Fax: (847) 526-2867. -Sharon Kazmierski The Clearing House, Classical Outlook Fall 2009
Review by: N.S. Gill, about.com - April 1, 2009
The Bottom Line Bolchazy-Carducci's 134-page A Lucan Reader - Selections From Civil War, by Susanna Braund, is suitable for intermediate Latin classroom use, with a very reasonable price tag, only 25 pages of Latin to translate, and copious notes. Guide Review - A Lucan Reader - Selections from "Civil War" It's easy to get through a college major in Latin without reading Lucan. His Civil War doesn't make satisfying history, his epic hexameters can be tricky, and his treatment of his topic seems less than heroic. Susanna Braund explains that such differences from more familiar authors of history and epic make Lucan worth reading. Lucan wasn't simply writing prose history as a Livy or Tacitus, but telling an epic with three protagonists. It's the story of "anti-hero" Caesar's fight against his son-in-law Pompey, and when Pompey dies, Cato. Earlier Roman historians had not only written prose, but also verse. Ennius used the epic meter (hexameters) to write his annals. Lucan differs from earlier epic writers in commonplace diction and his treatment of the gods. As the nephew of the famous Stoic Seneca who served the Emperor Nero, Lucan's depiction of the gods is less as anthropomorphic busybodies and more as vague gods with only Fortune and Fate taking an active role. In addition to showing the tradition from which Lucan comes and the stylistic elements readers should be aware of, Braund describes the structure of Civil War, highlighting bits that are included in the selections. Following the introduction come the 25 pages of Latin selections, copious commentary, and 29 pages of vocabulary. The Latin student still has to work at the text to put it all together, but that's the point of a Latin reader. Link to review on blog: http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/authorslo/gr/030909LucanRdr.htm
Review by: Henry Bender - February 3, 2009
Susanna Braund, an internationally known Classical scholar has produced a very handy volume ideally suited to introduce Lucan to a competent intermediate Latin class. The volume is entirely self- supporting. Students make productive use of the lucid introduction which sets the historical stage for the six hundred twenty lines excerpted from The Civil Wars. Braund casts a wide net as she discusses such topics as the role of gods, Lucan's idiosyncracies as a writer, the structure of his work, the influences upon him, and his deliberative mixture of poetry and history. The Latin text is essentially that put forth by A.E.Housman. Departures and variations are noted. The text follows free from facing vocabulary or notes on the page. The complete commentary follows the complete text. Terse and illuminating, Braund offers information which ranges in its focus from grammar and vocabulary to translation, and identification. Every effort is made to keep the student on track to develop an understanding and mastery of the targeted lines. The book itself is attractive, features a durable binding, and is very well formatted to promote efficient and rewarding study. Henry V. Bender, Ph.D., The College of the Holy Cross, St. Joseph's University, The Hill School
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