Lucan’s Civil War is the most unpalatable of the ancient epics for many modern readers. Monochromatic characterization, obsession with the macabre, with the sentimental, with the pathetic, a strident authorial voice, an ever-present tendency to exaggerate, an opportunistic historical amnesia-none of these traits has endeared Lucan’s poem to an audience schooled on the opacities and restraint of the Virgilian epic. Yet the strident libertarian strain has its appeal.