Publius Papinius Statius (ca. 45, Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 – ca. 96 AD, Naples) was a Roman poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

 of the 1st century CE (Silver Age of Latin literature). Besides his poetry in Latin, which include an epic poem, the Thebaid
Thebaid (Latin poem)
The Thebaid is a Latin epic in twelve books written in dactylic hexameter by Publius Papinius Statius . The poem deals with the Theban cycle of mythology and treats the assault of the seven champions of Argos against the city of Thebes.-Composition:Based on Statius' own testimony, the Thebaid was...

, a collection of occasional poetry, the Silvae
The Silvae is a collection of Latin occasional poetry in hexameters, hendecasyllables, and lyric meters by Publius Papinius Statius . There are 32 poems in the collection, divided into five books. Each book contains a prose preface which introduces and dedicates the book...

, and the unfinished epic, the Achilleid
The Achilleid is an unfinished epic poem by Publius Papinius Statius that was intended to present the life of Achilles from his youth through his death at Troy. Only about one and a half books were completed before the poet's death...

, he is best known for his appearance as a major character in the Purgatory
Purgatorio is the second part of Dante's Divine Comedy, following the Inferno, and preceding the Paradiso. The poem was written in the early 14th century. It is an allegory telling of the climb of Dante up the Mount of Purgatory, guided by the Roman poet Virgil...

 section of Dante's
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 epic poem The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...


Family Background

Information about Statius' life is almost entirely drawn from his Silvae and a mention by the satirist Juvenal
The Satires are a collection of satirical poems by the Latin author Juvenal written in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD.Juvenal is credited with sixteen known poems divided among five books; all are in the Roman genre of satire, which, at its most basic in the time of the author, comprised a...

. He was born to a family of Graeco
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

n origin; his Roman cognomen
The cognomen nōmen "name") was the third name of a citizen of Ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. The cognomen started as a nickname, but lost that purpose when it became hereditary. Hereditary cognomina were used to augment the second name in order to identify a particular branch within...

 suggests that at some time an ancestor of his was freed and adopted the name of his former master, although neither Statius nor his father were slaves. The poet's father (whose name is unknown) was a native of Velia
Velia is the Italian name of the ancient town of Elea located on the territory of the comune of Ascea, Salerno, Campania, Italy in a geographical sub-area named Cilento...

 but later moved to Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 and spent time in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 where he taught with marked success. From boyhood to adulthood, Statius' father proved himself a champion in the poetic contests at Naples in the Augustalia
The Augustalia was a festival at Rome, in commemoration of the day on which Augustus returned to Rome, after he had established peace over the different parts of the empire. It was first established in the year of Rome 735, after he had ended all his wars, and settled the affairs with Sicily,...

 and in the Nemean, Pythian, and Isthmian
Isthmian is the adjective pertaining to an isthmusIt may also refer to:* Isthmian Games, one of the Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece* Isthmian League, a regional football league covering London and South East England...

 games, which served as important events to display poetic skill during the early empire. Statius declares in his lament for his father (Silv. 5.3) that his father was in his time equal to any literary task, whether in prose or verse. He mentioned Mevania
Mevania , an ancient Roman town and municipium of , in the Augustan Regio VI. It lay on the western branch of the Via Flaminia, 13 km WSW of Forum Flaminii where the branches rejoin....

, and may have spent time there, or been impressed by the confrontation of Vitellius
Vitellius , was Roman Emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December 69. Vitellius was acclaimed Emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors...

 and Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

 in 69. Statius' father was a Roman eques, but may have lost his status because of money troubles. At Naples, he was a teacher of Greek and Roman literature who attracted many pupils who were destined for religious offices in Rome. He died in 79 CE.

Birth and Career

Less is known of the events of Statius' life. He was born c. 45 CE From his boyhood he was victorious in poetic contests many times at his native Naples and three times at the Alban Festival, where he received the golden crown from the hand of the emperor Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

 who had instituted the contest. For the Alban Festival, Statius composed a poem on the German and Dacian campaigns of Domitian which Juvenal lampoons in his seventh satire. He is thought to have moved to Rome c. 90 after his father's death where he published his acclaimed epic poem the Thebaid c. 92. In the capital, Statius seems to have made many connections among the Roman aristocracy and court, and he was probably supported through their patronage. Statius produced the first three books of occasional poetry, his Silvae, which were published in 93 CE, which sketch his patrons and acquaintances of this period and mention his attendance at one of Domitian's Saturnalia
Saturnalia is an Ancient Roman festival/ celebration held in honour of Saturn , the youngest of the Titans, father of the major gods of the Greeks and Romans, and son of Uranus and Gaia...

 banquets. He competed in the great Capitoline
Capitoline Hill
The Capitoline Hill , between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol...

 competition, although it is not known in what year, although 94 has been suggested. Statius failed to win the coveted prize, a loss he took very hard. The disappointment may have prompted his return to Naples around 94, the home of his youth. In existence is a poem he addressed to his wife, Claudia, the widow of a famous singer who had a musically talented daughter by her first husband, on this occasion (Silv. 3.5).

Later Years at Naples

Statius' first three books of the Silvae seem to have received some criticism, and in response he composed a fourth book of Silvae at Naples, which was published in 95. During this period at Naples, Statius maintained his relations with the court and his patrons,earning himself another invitation to a palace banquet (Silv. 4.2). He seems to have taken an interest in the marriage and career of his stepdaughter and he also took a young slave boy under his wing, as he was childless, who died c. 95. In that same year Statius embarked on a new epic, the Achilleid, giving popular recitations of his work (Juv. 7.83) only to complete a book and half before dying in 95 CE, leaving the poem unfinished. His fifth book of Silvae were published after his death c. 96.


As a poet, Statius was versatile in his abilities and contrived to represent his work as otium
Otium, a Latin abstract term, has a variety of meanings, including leisure time in which a person can enjoy eating, playing, resting, contemplation and academic endeavors. It sometimes, but not always, relates to a time in a person's retirement after previous service to the public or private...

. Taught by his educated father, Statius was familiar with the breadth of classical literature and displayed his learning in his poetry which is densely allusive and has been described as elaborate and mannerist. He was able to compose in hexameter
Hexameter is a metrical line of verse consisting of six feet. It was the standard epic metre in classical Greek and Latin literature, such as in the Iliad and Aeneid. Its use in other genres of composition include Horace's satires, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. According to Greek mythology, hexameter...

, hendecasyllable
The hendecasyllable is a line of eleven syllables, used in Ancient Greek and Latin quantitative verse as well as in medieval and modern European poetry.-In quantitative verse:...

, Alcaic and Sapphic
Sapphic can refer to:* Related to Sappho, a 7th century BC poetess** Sapphic stanza, a four line poetic form* Sapphic love, related to female homosexuality...

 meters, to produce deeply researched and highly refined epic and polished impromptu pieces, and to treat a variety of themes with the dazzling rhetorical and poetic skill that inspired the support of his patrons and the emperor. Some of Statius' works, such as his poems for his competitions, have been lost; he is recorded as having written an Agave mime, and a four line fragment remains of his poem on Domitian's military campaigns, the De Bello Germanico composed for the Alban Games in the scholia to Juvenal 4.94.

The Thebaid

Based on Statius' own testimony, the Thebaid was written c. 80 – c. 92 CE, beginning when the poet was around 35, and the work is thought to have been published in 91 or 92. The poem is divided into twelve books in imitation of Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

's Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

 and is composed in dactylic hexameter. In the Silvae, Statius speaks of his extensive work in polishing and revising the Thebaid and his public recitations of the poem. From the epilogue it seems clear that Statius considered the Thebaid to be his magnum opus and believed that it would secure him fame for the future. In the poem, Statius follows Virgil closely as a model (in the epilogue he acknowledges his debt to Virgil), but he also references a wide range of sources in his handling of meter and episodes.
The poem's theme is the myth of the Seven Against Thebes
Seven Against Thebes
The Seven against Thebes is the third play in an Oedipus-themed trilogy produced by Aeschylus in 467 BC. The trilogy is sometimes referred to as the Oedipodea. It concerns the battle between an Argive army led by Polynices and the army of Thebes led by Eteocles and his supporters. The trilogy won...

, the story of the battle between the sons of Oedipus
Oedipus was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his father and marry his mother, and thus brought disaster on his city and family...

 for the throne of Thebes
Ancient Thebes (Boeotia)
See Thebes, Greece for the modern city built on the ancient ruins.Ancient Thebes was a Boeotian city-state , situated to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divides Boeotia from Attica, and on the southern edge of the Boeotian plain...

. The poem opens (Book 1) with the disgraced Oedipus' curse on his two sons, Eteocles
In Greek mythology, Eteocles was a king of Thebes, the son of Oedipus and either Jocasta or Euryganeia. The name is from earlier *Etewoklewes , meaning "truly glorious". Tawaglawas is thought to be the Hittite rendition of the name. Oedipus killed his father Laius and married his mother without...

 and Polyneices, who have decided to hold the throne of Thebes in alternate years, one ruling, the other in exile. Jupiter plans a war between Thebes and Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

, although Juno begs him not to incite it. Polyneices in exile fights with Tydeus
In Greek mythology, Tydeus was an Aeolian hero of the generation before the Trojan War. He was one of the Seven Against Thebes and was mortally wounded by Melanippus before the walls of the city. The goddess Athena had planned to make him immortal but refused after Tydeus in a rage devoured the...

, another exile at Adrastus
Adrastus or Adrestus , traditionally translated as "nonparticipant" or "uncooperative", was a legendary king of Argos during the war of the Seven Against Thebes.-Mythological tradition:...

' palace; the two are entertained and marry Adrastus' daughters. In Book 2, Tydeus goes to Eteocles to ask him to lay down the throne and yield power, but he refuses and tries to kill Tydeus with an ambush. Tydeus slaughters the Thebans and escapes to Argos, causing Adrastus and Polyneices to declare war on Thebes (Book 3). In the fourth book the Argive forces gather, commanded by the seven champions Adrastus, Polyneices, Amphiaraus
In Greek mythology, Amphiaraus was the son of Oecles and Hypermnestra, and husband of Eriphyle. Amphiaraus was the King of Argos along with Adrastus— the brother of Amphiaraus' wife, Eriphyle— and Iphis. Amphiaraus was a seer, and greatly honored in his time...

, Capaneus
In Greek mythology, Capaneus was a son of Hipponous and either Astynome or Laodice , and husband of Evadne, with whom he fathered Sthenelus. Some call his wife Ianeira....

, Parthenopaeus, Hippomedon
In Greek mythology, Hippomedon was one of the Seven Against Thebes and father of Polydorus.His father was either Talaus, the father of Adrastus, or Aristomachus , or Mnesimachus. If he is the son of Mnesimachus, then his mother is Metidice, daughter of Talaus, which makes him Adrastus's sister's...

, and Tydeus and march to Thebes, but at Nemea
Nemea is an ancient site near the head of the valley of the River Elissos in the northeastern part of the Peloponnese, in Greece. Formerly part of the territory of Cleonae in Argolis, it is today part of the prefecture of Corinthia...

, Bacchus causes a drought. The army meets Hypsipyle
In Greek mythology, Hypsipyle was the Queen of Lemnos, daughter of Thoas and Myrina.During her reign, Aphrodite cursed the women of the island for having neglected her shrines. All the women developed extreme body odor that made them repugnant to the men of the nation. The men took up with...

 who shows them a spring then tells them the story of the Women of Lemnos
Lemnos is an island of Greece in the northern part of the Aegean Sea. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within the Lemnos peripheral unit, which is part of the North Aegean Periphery. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Myrina...

 (Book 5). While she is speaking her ward, Opheltes
Opheltes is a boy from Greek mythology, the son of the Nemean king Lycurgus and Queen Eurydice."When their son was born, Lykourgos consulted the oracle at Delphi in order to find out how he might insure the health and happiness of his child...

 is killed by a snake; in Book 6, the Argives perform games for the dead child, instituting the Nemean Games
Nemean Games
The Nemean Games were one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, and were held at Nemea every two years ....

. In 7, Jupiter urges the Argives to march on Thebes where battle breaks out during which Amphiaraus is swallowed in the earth. In 8, Tydeus, wounded and dying kills Melanippus and eats his head; a battle over his body leads to the death of Hippomedon and Parthenopaeus (Book 9). In 10, Juno causes sleep to overcome the Thebans and the Argives slaughter many in the camp; Menoeceus
In Greek mythology, Menoeceus was the father of Creon and Jocasta and both grandfather and father-in-law of Oedipus. Another Menoeceus was the son of Creon, named after his grandfather...

 sacrifices himself to save Thebes and Jupiter kills the wicked Capaneus with a thunderbolt. In 11, Polyneices and Eteocles join in single combat and kill each other; Jocasta
In Greek mythology, Jocasta, also known as Jocaste , Epikastê, or Iokastê was a daughter of Menoeceus and Queen consort of Thebes, Greece. She was the wife of Laius. Wife and mother of Oedipus by Laius, and both mother and grandmother of Antigone, Eteocles, Polynices and Ismene by Oedipus...

 kills herself and Creon
Creon is a figure in Greek mythology best known as the ruler of Thebes in the legend of Oedipus. He had two children with his wife, Eurydice: Megareus and Haemon...

 assumes power, forbidding burial of the Argive dead. In the final book, the Argive widows go to Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 to ask Theseus
For other uses, see Theseus Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aethra, and fathered by Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night. Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes that were...

 to force Creon to allow their husbands' burial while Argia
For other uses of the word Argia see Argia Argia is a genus of damselflies of the family Coenagrionidae and of the subfamily Argiinae. It is a diverse genus which contains about 114 species and many more to be described. It is also the largest genus in Argiinae. They are found in the Western...

, Polyneices' wife, burns him illicitly. Theseus musters an army and kills Creon. The Thebaid ends with an epilogue in which the poet prays that his poem will be successful, cautions it not to rival the Aeneid, and hopes that his fame will outlive him.

Modern critics of the Thebaid have been divided over interpretations of the epic's tone. Earlier critics in the 19th and 20th century considered the poem a piece of elaborate flattery that vindicated the regime of Domitian, however, more recent scholars have viewed the poem as a subversive work that criticizes the authoritarianism and violence of the Flavians by focusing on extreme violence and social chaos. Statius' use of allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 in the Thebaid and his abstract treatment of the gods has been seen as an important innovation in the tradition of classical poetry which ushered in Medieval conventions. Finally, although earlier scholars criticized the style of the poem as episodic, current scholars have noted the subtlety and skill with which Statius organizes and controls his narrative and description.

The Silvae

The Silvae were probably composed by Statius between 89-96 CE. The first three books seem to have been published together after 93 CE, Book 4 was probably released in 95 CE, and Book 5 is thought to have been released posthumously c. 96. The title of the collection, (silvae meaning "forest" or "raw material") was used to describe the draft of a poets work which was composed impromptu in a moment of strong inspiration and which was then revised into a polished, metrical poem. This suggests that the Silvae are revised, impromptu pieces of occasional poetry which were composed in the space of a few days' time. There are thirty-two poems in the collection (almost all with a dedicatee), divided into five books, each with a dedicatory epistle. Of nearly four thousand lines which the books contain, more than five-sixths are hexameter
Hexameter is a metrical line of verse consisting of six feet. It was the standard epic metre in classical Greek and Latin literature, such as in the Iliad and Aeneid. Its use in other genres of composition include Horace's satires, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. According to Greek mythology, hexameter...

s. Four of the pieces are written in the hendecasyllabic metre, and there is one Alcaic and one Sapphic
Sapphic stanza
The Sapphic stanza, named after Sappho, is an Aeolic verse form spanning four lines ....


The subjects of the Silvae
The Silvae is a collection of Latin occasional poetry in hexameters, hendecasyllables, and lyric meters by Publius Papinius Statius . There are 32 poems in the collection, divided into five books. Each book contains a prose preface which introduces and dedicates the book...

 vary widely. Five poems are devoted to the emperor and his favorites, including a description of Domitian's equestrian statue in the Forum (1.1), praise for his construction of the Via Domitiana (4.3), and a poem on the dedication of the hair Earinus, a eunuch favorite of Domitian's, to a shrine of Aesculapius (3.4). Six are lamentations for deaths or consolations to survivors, including the highly personal poems on the death of Statius' father and his foster-son (5.3,5). The poems on loss are particularly notable in the collection and range from consolations on the death of wives (3.3) to pieces on the death of a favorite parrot (2.4) and a lion in the arena (2.5). Another group of the Silvae give picturesque descriptions of the villas, gardens, and artworks of the poet's friends. In these we have a more vivid representation than elsewhere of the surroundings Roman aristocrats of the empire lived in the country. Important examples include a piece on Pollius' temple to Hercules (3.1), the aetiology of the tree at Atedius' villa (2.3), an antique statue of Lysippus' Heracles (4.6) and a description of Pollius' villa at Surrentum (2.2). The rest of the Silvae, consist of congratulatory addresses to friends and poems for special occasions such as the wedding poem for Stella and Violentilla (2.2), the poem commemorating the poet Lucan
Lucan is the common English name of the Roman poet Marcus Annaeus Lucanus.Lucan may also refer to:-People:*Arthur Lucan , English actor*Sir Lucan the Butler, Knight of the Round Table in Arthurian legend...

's birthday (2.7), and a joking piece to Plotius Grypus on a Saturnalia gift (4.9).

As with the Thebaid, Statius' relationship to Domitian and his court caused him to fall out of favor with critics and readers, but in recent times, the Silvae have been rehabilitated by scholars. Domitian is an important presence in the Silvae, and many of the poems appear to flatter the emperor and court. The content of the Silvae is primarily dictated by the needs of Statius' patrons, and many of the addressees come from the wealthy, privileged class of landowners and politicians. Statius' flattery of these elites has been interpreted in two ways by scholars; some, maintain that the collection is highly subversive is a subtle criticism of Domitian and the Roman aristocracy. Others urge a reading of the Silvae as individual pieces that respond to specific circumstances with their own unique viewpoints.

The Achilleid

A fragment of his epic poem on the life of Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

— the Achilleid
The Achilleid is an unfinished epic poem by Publius Papinius Statius that was intended to present the life of Achilles from his youth through his death at Troy. Only about one and a half books were completed before the poet's death...

— is also extant, consisting of one book and a few hundred lines of a second. What was completed of this poem was composed between 94-95 CE based on Silvae 4.7.21ff. Statius records that there were recitations of the poem. It is thought that Statius' death in 95 is the reason that the poem remains unfinished. In the first book, Thetis, having foreknowledge of her son's death in the Trojan War, attempts to hide Achilles on the island of Scyros by dressing him up as a girl. On the island, Achilles falls in love with Deidamia
Deidamia may refer to:* Deidamia , from Greek mythology.* from Greek mythology, another name for Hippodamia, wife of Pirithous.* Deidamia I of Epirus, wife of Demetrius Poliorcetes* Deidamia II of Epirus, last ruler of the Aeacid dynasty....

 and forces her to have sex with him. Ulysses
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

 arrives to recruit Achilles for the war effort and reveals his identity. In the second book, Ulysses and Achilles depart and Achilles gives an account of his early life and tutelage by the centaur Chiron
In Greek mythology, Chiron was held to be the superlative centaur among his brethren.-History:Like the satyrs, centaurs were notorious for being wild and lusty, overly indulgent drinkers and carousers, given to violence when intoxicated, and generally uncultured delinquents...

. The poem breaks off at the end of his speech. In general, scholars have remarked on the markedly different tone of the Achilleid in comparison with the Thebaid, equating it more to the style of Ovid than Virgil. Some have also noted the predominance of feminine themes and feminine power in the fragment and focus on the poem's perspectives on gender relations.

Statius' Influence and Literary Afterlife

Statius' poetry was very popular in his lifetime, although he was not without his critics who apparently had problems with his ex tempore style. Juvenal is thought to extensively lampoon Statius' type of court poetry in his fourth satire on the turbot of Domitian, but he also mentions the immense popularity of Statius' recitations in Satire 7.82ff. In late antiquity, the Thebaid which was by then a classic received a commentary by a Lactantius Placidus.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Thebaid remained a popular text, inspiring a 12th century French romance and works by Boccaccio and Chaucer. Statius' development of allegory helped establish the importance of that technique in Medieval poetry. In the Renaissance, the Silvae thanks to Poliziano
Angelo Ambrogini, commonly known by his nickname, anglicized as Politian, Italian Poliziano, Latin Politianus was an Italian Renaissance classical scholar and poet, one of the revivers of Humanist Latin...

 helped inspire an entire genre of collections of miscellaneous, occasional poetry called Sylvae which remained popular throughout the period, inspiring works by Hugo Grotius
Hugo Grotius
Hugo Grotius , also known as Huig de Groot, Hugo Grocio or Hugo de Groot, was a jurist in the Dutch Republic. With Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili he laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law...

 and John Dryden
John Dryden
John Dryden was an influential English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden.Walter Scott called him "Glorious John." He was made Poet...

, Dante
Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...

 mentions Statius in De vulgari eloquentia
De vulgari eloquentia
De vulgari eloquentia is the title of an essay by Dante Alighieri, written in Latin and initially meant to consist of four books, but abandoned in the middle of the second. It was probably composed shortly after Dante went into exile; internal evidence points to a date between 1302 and 1305...

 along with Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

, Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 and Lucan
Marcus Annaeus Lucanus
Marcus Annaeus Lucanus , better known in English as Lucan, was a Roman poet, born in Corduba , in the Hispania Baetica. Despite his short life, he is regarded as one of the outstanding figures of the Imperial Latin period...

 as one of the four regulati poetae (ii, vi, 7). In Divina Commedia
The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...

, Dante and Virgil are caught up with Statius as they leave the Fifth Terrace (reserved for the avaricious and the prodigal) and enter the Sixth (reserved for the gluttonous). Statius' redemption is heard in Canto XX (the mountain trembles and the penitent souls cry out "Gloria in exclesis Deo") and he joins Dante and Virgil in Canto XXI. He then ascends Mount Purgatory with them and stays with Dante in the Earthly Paradise at the mountain's summit, after Virgil has returned to Limbo. He is last mentioned in Canto XXXIII, making him one of the longest recurring characters in the comedy, fourth to Dante, Virgil and Beatrice. He is not mentioned in Paradise, though he presumably ascends like Dante. Dante claims that Statius was a secret convert to Christianity as a result of his reading of Virgil, although his conversion is not attested in any historical source.

In Restoration England, John Dryden wrote a poem entitle "To Sir Robert Howard" that refers to Statius' Achilleid; Dryden criticizes Statius' unfinished epic, calling it "too bold."

External links


  • David R. Slavitt (tr.), Broken Columns: Two Roman Epic Fragments: The Achilleid of Publius Papinius Statius and The Rape of Proserpine of Claudius Claudianus, with an Afterword by David Konstan (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997).
  • Betty Rose Nagle, The Silvae of Statius. Translated with Notes and Introduction (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004).
  • Karla F.L. Pollmann, Statius, Thebaid 12: Introduction, Text, and Commentary (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoeningh, 2004) (Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des Altertums. Neue Folge. 1. Reihe, Band 25).
  • Gibson, Bruce, Statius. Silvae 5. Edited with Introduction, Translation and Commentary (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006) (Oxford Classical Monographs).
  • Jane Wilson Joyce (ed.), Statius, Thebaid: A Song of Thebes (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008) (Masters of Latin Literature).
  • Pavan, Alberto (ed., trans., comm.), La gara delle quadrighe e il gioco della guerra: Saggio di commento a P. Papinii Statii Thebaidos liber VI 238-549 (Alessandria, Edizioni dell'Orso, 2009) (Minima philologica, 6).


  • Lewis, C.S. "Dante's Statius." Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge, 1966).
  • Hardie, A. Statius and the Silvae (Liverpool, 1983).
  • Mendelsohn, D. "Empty Nest, Abandoned Cave: maternal anxiety in Achilleid 1", ClAnt 9.2 (1990), 295–308.
  • Fantham, E. "Chironis Exemplum: on teachers and surrogate fathers in Achilleid and Silvae", Hermathena 167 (1999), 59–70.
  • Newlands, C. Statius' Silvae and the Poetics of Empire (Cambridge, 2002).
  • Shackleton Bailey, D. R. Statius Silvae (Cambridge, Mass.; London, 2003).
  • Feeney, D. "Tenui... latens discrimine: spottign the differences in Statius' Achilleid, Materiali e discussioni per l'analisi dei testi classici 52 (2004), 85-106.
  • Heslin, P.J. The Transvestite Achilles: Gender and Genre in Statius' Achilleid (Cambridge, 2005).
  • Lovatt, H. Statius and Epic Games: Sport, Politics, and Poetics in the Thebaid (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) ((Cambridge Classical Studies).
  • Johannsen, N. Dichter ueber ihre Gedichte: Die Prosavorreden in den 'Epigrammaton libri' Martials und in den 'Silvae' des Statius (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2006) ((Hypomnemata, 166).

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.