The precise nature of the relationship between Lucan's epic De Bello Civili and Petronius' essay on the same theme1 has proved one of the most intractable and perplexing interpretative problems of the Satyrica. Some have regarded Petronius' version as a straightforward parody of Lucan's; others have adopted the almost contrary view that Petronius is offering a ‘fair copy’ designed to show how Lucan might have treated his material in a more appropriate (i.e. more Virgilian and traditional) manner.
1 Sat. 119 To avoid confusion, I shall refer to Lucan's epic henceforth by the non-authentic title Pharsalia, and to Petronius' version as Bellum Civile. Discussion of the significance of the titles may be found below, p. 121.