Lucan, The Civil War, 1.1-6: Beginnings, Eloquence and, eventually, Cicero

“War something more than civil over Emathian plains,
Legitimacy conferred on crime, and a powerful people,
We sing, a people who turned right hands against their own stomachs;
Battlelines of relatives, even when the pledge of tyranny was broken,
The forces of a shocked world marched toward common sin.
Standards waved to face enemy standards,
Eagles eyed each other and each javelin took aim at its mate.
What insanity is this, my countrymen, why so great a lust for violence?”

Bella per Emathios plus quam ciuilia campos
iusque datum sceleri canimus, populumque potentem
in sua uictrici conuersum uiscera dextra
cognatasque acies, et rupto foedere regni
certatum totis concussi uiribus orbis 5
in commune nefas, infestisque obuia signis
signa, pares aquilas et pila minantia pilis.
quis furor, o ciues, quae tanta licentia ferri?

Lucan, during the madness of the reign of Nero, wrote a sometimes incomprehensible and often untranslatable poem about the wars between Caesar and Pompey. Our friend Cicero shows up briefly in book 7 (61ff). The narrative description is less than flattering:

“The great model of eloquence, Cicero–
under whose rule and dress Cataline quavered–
brought forth the angry voices of the Roman people.
He was enraged by the wars and how soldiers had kept him
in a lengthy silence from the speaker’s platform and forum.
His florid strength supported a rotten cause.”

cunctorum uoces Romani maximus auctor
Tullius eloquii, cuius sub iure togaque
pacificas saeuos tremuit Catilina securis,
pertulit iratus bellis, cum rostra forumque 65
optaret passus tam longa silentia miles.
addidit inualidae robur facundia causae.

Cicero goes on to support Pompey….