This paper provides a narratological analysis of Lucan's Bellum Civile, focusing on the role of internal and external narratees (receivers of a text). In particular it treats Pompey and Caesar in the roles of narrator and reader, respectively. An important passage (7.207-13) characterizes the external narratees of the Bellum Civile as astonished by the events of the epic, and indeed unwilling to believe the historical fact of Pompey's defeat as Pharsalia. Similarly, characters within the epic (named and unnamed) repeatedly refuse to believe Pompey's narrations. Pompey's failure as a general is, therefore, underscored by his failure as a narrator. Even in his death, Pompey becomes a text that, when read by passersby, will not gain credence. Caesar, by contrast, is a reader. By reading texts selectively (especially the "text" of the ruined Troy) he constructs for himself a noble past, a sure future, and epic fame. When he is called upon to create a narrative himself (after the death of Pompey), his narrative, too, is disbelieved. But Caesar, unlike Pompey, anticipates and reacts positively to the failure of his narrative to convince. The story that Lucan presents is constructed as unbelievable. It is a text of ruin, of that which specifically cannot be narrated. For epic narration has at its core the rescue of events, people, and places from oblivion. An epic of ruin (of that which has resulted in oblivion) is, therefore, a contradiction in terms. Thus, the Bellum Civile succeeds by its very failure to convince, recreating in its unbelievable narrative the failure of events themselves.
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