Codex Vossianus II
Lucanus iste Hispanus genere, Cordubensis fuit regione, dignitate uero et eruditione Romanus. qui primo apud imperatorem Neronem maximum potuit, adeo ut etiam de conponendis uersibus nonnumquam inter se contenderet. sed postea accusatus est, quod consensisset factae coniurationi contra imperatorem, cumque non inueniretur in eo talis constantia, qualis putabatur — nam et cito obiectum sibi crimen prodidit et matrem, quae innocens erat, accusauit, quod particeps conspirationis fuisset —, morti adiudicatus est data sibi obtione mortis, ut, qua uellet, morte periret. qui largiter epulatus iussit sibi archiatrum accessiri et incisis omnibus uenis corporis periit. unde morte praeoccupatus quaedam, quae inchoauerat, inperfecta reliquit. nam mortem Pompeii atque Catonis descripsit. libellos etiam suos inemendatos auunculo suo Senecae, ut eos emendaret, tradidit. sciendum, quia primo iste liber a Lucano non ita est inchoatus, sed taliter: ‘quis furor, o ciues, quae tanta licentia ferri’. Seneca autem, qui fuit auunculus eius, quia ex abrupto inchoabat hos VII uersus addidit: ‘bella per Emathios’ usque ‘et pila minantia pilis’.
Lucan was Spanish by birth, from the region of Cordoba, yet he was a Roman in honour and learning. He was very influential with Nero at first, to such an extent that they even used to engage in poetic contests with each other.
Later, however, he was accused of involvement in the conspiracy against the emperor, and he did not show quite the strength of character that might have been expected: for he quickly admitted the charge laid against him and even named his own mother, who had in fact been innocent, as a co-conspirator. He was condemned to death and given a choice as to how he should die. Having dined well, he summoned a physician to sever all the arteries in his body and died.
His unexpected death meant that he left certain compositions unfinished, for he described the deaths of Pompey and Caesar. He left his unrevised works to his uncle Seneca to edit. It should be noted that the first book of Lucan’s epic did not begin as it does, but with the words, ‘What madness was this, O citizens? What this excessive freedom with the sword?’. Seneca, however, who was his mother’s brother, because it began abruptly, added these seven lines: ‘of wars across Emathian plains’ to ‘javelins threatening javelins’.