Civil War in 1614: Lucan, Gorges and Prince Henry

Gibson, Jonathan (2003). Civil War in 1614: Lucan, Gorges and Prince Henry. In: Clucas, Stephen and Davies, Rosalind eds. The Crisis of 1614 and The Addled Parliament: Literary and Historical Perspectives. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 161–176.



This chapter is a study of the first English translation of Lucan's republican civil war epic, the Pharsalia. I argue that Arthur Gorges's translation, published in 1614, was written in the first instance for Prince Henry and that it was influenced by an anti-Machiavellian Neo-Stoicism characteristic of Henry's circle. The 'oppositional' qualities of Gorges's text, highlighted by a number of recent critics, are, I argue, the result of Henry's death in 1612: features that would have appeared unexceptional within a patronage text for Henry appeared newly politically dangerous in 1614. I analyse in detail Gorges's ambivalent attitude towards Caesar and argue that the Lucan translation is closely connected to the work of Sir Walter Ralegh, a friend and cousin of Gorges, on The History of the World.

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