Lucan (Marcus Annaeus Lucanus), a Roman poet, born in Corduba (Cordova), Spain, about A. D. 39, died in 65. His father was of equestrian rank, a brother of the philosopher Seneca, and carried his son at an early age to Rome, where he was educated under the best masters. His talents were soon generally noticed, and his public recitations were much admired. For reasons not precisely known, he was at enmity with Nero, and engaged in the conspiracy of Piso, in which he was betrayed. An offer of pardon induced him to turn informer; but after denouncing his accomplices, among whom was his mother Acilia, his own death was ordered by the emperor. Finding escape hopeless, he caused his veins to be opened, and died while repeating some of his own verses descriptive of this mode of death. His only extant production is the heroic poem Pharsalia, in 10 books, the subject of which is the struggle between Caesar and Pompey, which was decided by the battle of that name. The 10th book is incomplete, the narrative terminating abruptly. The different spirit pervading differ-ent parts, changing from flatteries of Nero to fierce invectives against tyranny, shows that it was composed at intervals. It reveals much poetical power, but has great defects, and has often been both admired and condemned with exaggeration.
The best edition is that of Weber (Leipsic, 1821-'31). The principal English translations are by Christopher Marlowe (of the first book, 1600), May (1627), Rowe (1718), and Riley, in Bohn's "Classical Library " (1853). Durand's translation into French (Paris, 1865) and Krais's into German (Leipsic, 1863) are excellent.