Nature and War: Lucan's Bellum Civile Contextualized
In his epic about the civil war, Lucan famously dispenses with the traditional level of the gods, and thus with a common way in epic poetry of conveying motivations and interpretations of events. However, in order to give them anyway, he develops new forms: His extraordinary concept of nature lends itself to this purpose. Indeed, nature appears in many different aspects in the Pharsalia: meteorological phenomena and landscape descriptions take up a lot of space in the narrative; but also the recurring factual explanations for otherwise inexplicable events, as well as the long, doctrinal poem-like digressions that seem to have no direct connection to the story, are of interest here.
Examining the numerous facets of nature - some of which are mentioned here - in Lucan's epic and their functions within different narrative levels will form the core of my thesis. In doing so, the Stoic content of the text will also be determined, for I will start from the hypothesis that Lucan's concept of nature has a Stoic origin, and that Lucan acts as a mediator of this knowledge; the extent to which this is strictly orthodox or not-which is more likely in an epic-will also be clarified.