Lucan

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You were looking for lucan or Lucan (maybe even for lukan). There are several unconnected meanings:

  • The Roman poet Lucan (39-65 CE) (more fully Marcus Annaeus Lucanus) was the author of much poetry in Latin, of which not all has survived. His epic De bello civili ('On the Civil War'), or Pharsalia, of which he published three books, may have led to a cooling in his previously friendly relations with the Emperor Nero, in 62 or 63: publication of more was then forbidden. What we now have - ten books covering events beginning with Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon in 49 BCE and ending with Caesar in Alexandria - was almost certainly unfinished by his death. He joined a conspiracy against the Emperor Nero, and on discovery in 65 was compelled to kill himself.
  • Lucan is the adjective meaning 'to do with Saint Luke', the writer of the Gospel that bears his name.
This word is the most variable: it may be written with or without a capital 'L-', and may be spelled lucan or lukan. Although the latter is closer to the form of the name in English, lucan is to be preferred on the historical ground that the adjective is derived from Latin, where the form is invariably lucas.
  • There is a title Lucan in the British aristocracy, the Earl[s] of Lucan (with a subordinate title Baron Lucan). The name is derived from the town Lucan (Leamhcáin, 'Place of the Elm Trees') in County Dublin in Ireland, where the first Earl was born.
    • The title was first held by the Jacobite General Patrick Sarsfield (d. 1693), regarded as one of James II's most successful commanders in Ireland. His son, James Francis Edward Sarsfield (1693-1719), the second earl, never married, and the title died with him. It was revived in 1795: the first Earl of this second creation was Charles Bingham (1735-1799), a great-nephew of the first Earl of the first creation. Two particular holders of the title may come to the attention of readers of AWE:
    • The third Earl of Lucan (George Charles Bingham, 1800-1888) commanded the cavalry division of the British Army in the Crimean War, and gave the initial order which, with disputed misunderstandings, led to the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade.
    • The seventh Earl (Richard John Bingham, born 1934) was involved in the death of his children's nanny, whom he is suspected of having killed, perhaps having mistaken her for his estranged wife. This was in 1974, after which Lord Lucan disappeared, probably having killed himself, but in much popular culture having absconded to foreign parts. His name has become a by-word for a person who cannot be found: 'doing a Lucan' ~ 'choosing to disappear'.
  • The famous female impersonator ('drag artist', in less formal English) known as 'Old Mother Riley' was in reality Arthur Lucan (1885-1954), an English actor (born Arthur Towle). 'She' was a star of stage, radio and also film, performing between 1913 and 1954, with 'her daughter' (his wife) Kitty MacShane (1897-1964).