De bello civili ‘Concerning the civil war’

  • Classical Latin
  • verse
  • Ancient Roman texts
Epic poem on the civic war between Julius Caesar and Pompey.
De bello civili
‘Concerning the civil war’
or Bellum civile; also known (incorrectly) as the Pharsalia
(39–65 AD)
Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Roman poet known for his Pharsalia (al. De bello civili).

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Lucan (1st century AD).
  • Classical Latin
verse (primary)
Textual relationships
See the Middle Irish adaptation known as In cath catharda.
Related: Adnotationes super LucanumAdnotationes super Lucanum

Medieval Latin commentary to Lucan’s poem De bello civili (al. Pharsalia). It is closely related to another commentary, the Commenta Bernensia in Lucanum, with which it is associated in Bern MS 370. The nature of this relationship remains unclear as does the degree to which they might preserve a core of late-antique exegetical material.Aspice marmoreas superantes astra columnasAspice marmoreas superantes astra columnasIn cath cathardaIn cath catharda

Medieval Irish adaptation of the first seven books of the classical Latin poem Pharsalia by Lucan. It rates as one of the longest literary prose texts to survive from medieval Ireland.

Commenta Bernensia in LucanumCommenta Bernensia in Lucanum

Medieval Latin commentary on Lucan’s poem De bello civili (al. Pharsalia) as preserved in manuscripts now in Bern (MSS 370 and 45). It is closely related to the Adnotationes super Lucanum, with which it is associated in MS 370. It is a matter of some debate to what extent the Commenta and Adnotationes might have been based on late antique material.


Ancient Roman textsAncient Roman texts


Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
(died 44 BC)
Gaius Julius Caesar, Roman statesman, general and consul

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Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.

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Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Joyce, Jane Wilson [ed. and tr.], Lucan. Pharsalia, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1993.
[ed.] Shackleton Bailey, D. R. [ed.], M. Annaei Lucani, De Bello Civili libri X, Stuttgart, 1988.
[ed.] Luck, Georg [ed.], Lukan. Der Bürgerkrieg, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1985.
[ed.] Housman, Alfred E. [ed.], M. Annaei Lucani. Belli Civilis libri decem, Oxford, 1926.
[ed.] Bourgery, A., and M. Ponchont [eds.], Lucain. La guerre civile (La Pharsale), 2 vols, Paris, 1926–1929.
[ed.] Hosius, C. [ed.], M. Annaei Lucani Belli Civilis libri decem, Leipzig: Teubner, 1913.
[ed.] [tr.] Housman, Alfred E. [ed.], and J. D. Duff [tr.], Lucan. The civil war, books i-x (Pharsalia), Loeb Classical Library, 220, London: Heinemann, 1928.
Internet Archive: <link>
The Latin text is largely reprinted from Housman's edition, without critical apparatus and with a few minor alterations.
[ed.] Fantham, Elaine [ed.], Lucan. De bello civili: book II, Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics, 31, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
[tr.] Braund, S. H. [tr.], Lucan: Civil war, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Secondary sources (select)

General studies:
Ahl, Frederick M., Lucan: an introduction, Cornell Studies in Classical Philology, 39, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1976.
Masters, Jamie, Poetry and civil war in Lucan’s Bellum Civile, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
On the transmission of the text during the Middle Ages:
Gotoff, Harold C., The transmission of the text of Lucan in the ninth century, Loeb Classical Monographs, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1971.
Werner, Shirley, “The text of Beinecke MS 673, an eleventh-century manuscript to Lucan”, Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 140:3–4 (1997): 299–308.
Rheinisches Museum – PDF: <link>
Hosius, C. [ed.], M. Annaei Lucani Belli Civilis libri decem, Leipzig: Teubner, 1913.
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
June 2011, last updated: January 2024