This study of the Roman poet Lucan (A.D. 39-65) treats the
merits and meaning of Pharsalia, Lucan's epic and his only
surviving work. "Since my chief concern is to establish what
Lucan's vision is, not to quarrel with it," writes Frederick M.
Ahl, "I have tried to represent his perspectives as accurately and
objectively as I can." After describing the political milieu of
Neronian Rome, Ahl illuminates the major themes of the epic, which,
he believes, has been obscured by recent scholarship. Through close
reading, he renders the poem more accessible to modern-day readers
and reestablishes Lucan as a significant poet of the post-Augustan
"Ahl's book constitutes a major contribution to the study of
Lucan and his surviving epic. . . . He has written from the
standpoint that Lucan was a committed foe of Caesarism and that he
designed his poem to move in a contrary direction to that of the
Aeneid, analyzing the disintegration and collapse, not the
developing promise and potential, of Rome's ideals. The reader
discovers the thesis amply supported and the arguments skillfully
marshaled and persuasively presented. In his endeavor to give an
objective presentation of Lucan's perspective, Ahl has in a very
lucid and precise account concentrated on the man himself, his
relationship with Nero, and the political milieu in which he wrote.
. . . This volume fulfills a very real need in Lucanian studies.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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