Marcus Annaeus Lucanus was born in Corduba, Spain, on November 3, 39 c.e. The determining factors in his career were his descent from two prominent Spanish families and his rhetorical education. His father, Marcus Annaeus Mela, was the brother of Seneca the Younger (the philosopher, poet, and statesman) and the son of Seneca the Elder. Lucan’s mother was the daughter of Acilius Lucanus, a Corduban speaker of note. Thus, by birthright Lucan belonged to one of Spain’s most distinguished families, whose talents had been widely recognized and who had obtained considerable wealth. Lucan was brought to Rome at an early age, where he enjoyed all the wealth and prestige that the Annaei could provide, particularly after 49 c.e., when Seneca was recalled from exile to become the tutor to Nero, the heir apparent to the throne. After formal training at the school of a grammarian, Lucan became the pupil of the Stoic philosopher Annaeus Cornutus, whose name suggests that he may have been a freedman of Lucan’s own family.
Considering Seneca’s position in Roman public affairs, which grew even stronger between 49 c.e. and 60 c.e., it is not surprising that Lucan was quickly drawn into the very heart of Roman social and political life. While this introduction to court life proved to be an incentive to Lucan, it ultimately caused his ruin. Lucan probably spent considerable time with Nero himself. After all, Lucan and Nero were only two years apart in age and both...
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