Category Archives: Lucan

Lucan, Pharsalia 1.183-227

Now Caesar has crossed in his journey the great
Alps, changed in mind, and seized future war.
As it was come to the waves of slight Rubicon,
Great image of the frightened city appeared to the leader,
Clear, with most sorrowful face, through the dark night,
Putting forth white hair from turreted head.
She seemed to stand with mangled hair and bare shoulders,
And to say, mixed among tears, “Whereto do you extend yourself?
Where, men, do you bear my standards? If you have come lawfully,
If you are citizens, it is allowed that you go further.” Then horror struck
Limbs of the leader. His hair grew stiff and faintness, staying his path,
Held his steps at the far bank. Soon he said,
“O you, Thunderer, who looks forth upon the walls of high Rome
From Tarpeian rock, and Phrygian penates
Of the Julian gens, and cult of ascended Quirinus
And Latian Jupiter, sitting in high Alba,
And Vestal fires and Rome in likeness of heavenly
Power, favor our undertakings. I follow you not with savage
Arma: behold, I, Caesar, victor by land and sea,
(If now it be permitted) am everywhere your soldier.
He, he shall be guilty who make me an enemy to you.”
Thence he loosed delay of war and hastily bore
Standards through the turbid river: just as in dusty fields
Of summer-bearing Libya a lion, close to seen enemy,
Sits uncertainly, while it collects all its anger;
Soon, when it goads with lash of swinging tail,
And has bristles its mane, and has growled deep groan
From gaping mouth, and hurled lance of light Moor
Sticks or spear then penetrates its flank,
It pushes itself through the iron, unbothered of such a wound.

He descends from modest spring and is lashed by small waves
Of Punic-red Rubicon when burning summer glistened,
And it snakes through deepest valleys, and, a set boundary,
Divides Gallic fields from Ausonian farmers.
Then, winter furnished it strength, and new moon
Increased rainy waves with heavy-laden crescent,
And Alps unfastened by drenched winds of resolute Eurus.
First the cavalry is sent, slanting to the river,
To break the waters; then remaining crowd broke forth
In easy advance through the waves of broken river.
Caesar, as he climbed opposite bank from surmounted
Water, and he stood in forbidden fields of Italy,
He said, “Here, here I leave peace and defiled laws.
I follow you, Fortune. Far away be concords now:
We have believed them enough; With war judge, this must be done.


Lucan, Pharsalia 1.486-504

Nor did the vulgus alone
Fear, beaten with lifeless terror, but the fathers
Themselves rushed to the curia from their homes,
And senate, fleeing, gave hated decree of war to the consuls.
Then, uncertain what safeties to seek and what fears
To put down they press upon the people, headlong, wherever
Impetus of flight bore them, and a long array bursts forth, clinging
Together. You would believe, as torches have snatched
Wicked roofs, or, ruin shaking, tottering houses hang,
Even so did the crowd, without order, frantic, rush through
The city with headlong step, as if one hope for ruined works was to
Flee the city walls. Just as, when blustery Auster
Has battered great sea from Libyan shoals
And crushed weight of sail-bearing mast has resounded,
Captain jumps to the waves, deck deserted,
And sailors make each for himself a shipwreck
With keel of the ship not yet broken up, so, with city abandoned,
There is a fleeing into war.