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War, Liberty, and CaesarResponses to Lucan's Bellum Ciuile, ca. 1580 - 1650$
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Edward Paleit

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199602988

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602988.001.0001

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Lucan and the ‘Caesarist’ Reader, ca.1590–1610

Lucan and the ‘Caesarist’ Reader, ca.1590–1610

(p.93) 3 Lucan and the ‘Caesarist’ Reader, ca.1590–1610
War, Liberty, and Caesar

Edward Paleit

Oxford University Press

This chapter, ‘Lucan and the Caesarist Reader’, is the first of five chapters within Part Two, ‘Readings’. It examines English responses to Lucan from approximately the early 1590s to 1610, including Christopher Marlowe’s translation of Book One (published 1600), which were united in exhibiting a fascination with the Bellum Ciuile’s portrayal of Julius Caesar’s armed assault on his own country by crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC. This fascination was related to contemporary discomfort with a moralized or civic understanding of human political obligation. ‘Caesarist’ readers of Lucan did not necessarily endorse Caesar’s armed invasion of his own country. However, they did acknowledge the importance of force, self-interest and necessity in determining how to act in situations of personal and national crisis. It argues that this reading of Lucan developed from a long sixteenth-century tradition of seeing the Bellum Ciuile as a poem of war, and appealed particularly to writers with a militaristic cast of mind.

Keywords:   Lucan, war, Julius Caesar, Christopher Marlowe, translation, Clement Edmondes, the Rubicon, Ciceronian humanism, civic values, political obligation, violence, Essex rebellion, militarism

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