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The Pharsalia Summary

Everything you need to understand or teach Pharsalia by Lucan.

  • The Pharsalia Summary & Study Guide
  • 3 Literature Criticism
  • ...and more

The Pharsalia Summary


The Pharsalia has been described by Ahl as "a political act as well as a political poem." Written when Nero's true nature could no longer be denied, it is a harrowing portrait of the disintegration of Rome, civil war, and the triumph of a single will. Lucan's unfinished epic was a subject of criticism even as he wrote it. In Petronius's Satyricon, a bitterly satiric novel written by another victim of Nero, a character complains that it is not a true epic, but a history, because it did not incorporate divine motivation. Even more important to later readings of the poem was the historian Tacitus's negative portrait of the poet in the Annales. From that day to this, Lucan has suffered from Tacitus's portrait and confusion about his approach.

Lucan's ability to paint the terrifying and the unearthly and to produce a pithy quotable line has not endeared him...

(read more from the Study Guide)

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The The Pharsalia Study Pack contains about 201 pages of study material in 4 products, including:

The Pharsalia Study Guide

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