Translated by Jane Wilson Joyce
Lucan's great poem, Pharsalia, recounts events surrounding the decisive battle fought near Pharsalus in 48 B.C. during the civil war between the forces of Pompey and Julius Caesar. Though the subject of this unfinished masterpiece is historical, many of its features are characteristic of epic poetry: Rousing battle scenes; tales of witches, monsters, and miracle; detailed catalogues; intricate similes; and speeches with a high degree of rhetorical elegance. However, Lucan's deft mix of humor and horror, of political satire, literary parody, history, and epic is entirely his own.
Jane Wilson Joyce's superb translation conveys the drama and poetry of the original. Her use of natural English rhythms in a loose six-beat line comes close to matching the original Latin hexameters, wile her language preserves Lucan's sequence of images. An enlightening introduction, notes, and a full glossary augment the translation.
Jane Wilson Joyce
Jane Wilson Joyce is Luellen Professor of Literature (Classics) at Centre College. She is the translator of Lucan's Pharsalia, also from Cornell.
A Song of Thebes
The clarity of Joyce's translation highlights the poem's superb versification, sophisticated use of intertextuality, and bold formal experimentation and innovation. A substantial introduction and annotations make this epic accessible to students.