Francis Cairns Publications

ARCA Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs ISSN 0309-5541

Statius and the Silvae.
Poets, Patrons and Epideixis in the Graeco-Roman World

Alex Hardie

ARCA 9. ISBN 978-0-905205-13-7.  viii+261 pp. 1983.   

Although writing in Latin, Statius (first-century AD) was, by origin and training, a Greek poet, and his collection of "occasional" poems, the Silvae, are a Roman extension of contemporary trends in Greek display poetry. No reading of the Silvae can be accurate without an understanding of this Graeco-Roman poetic milieu.

This book therefore begins with a reconstruction of the professional background to the Silvae - the festival circuit, the conditions of work for writers, their opportunities for advancement in the Greek and Roman worlds - both in the Hellenistic period and in the first century A.D. In this setting, display oratory and poetry are shown to have developed in parallel and to have had a profound mutual influence. Further chapters consider Statius' performances as a Neapolitan poet at Rome, his portrayal of his own society and his friends, and his attitudes to his Latin predecessors.

Literary patronage, both imperial and private, is a vital element in Statius' poetic career, and Hardie goes on to investigate the identity and social standing of the addressees of the Silvae. He also considers the career of the contemporary epigrammatist Martial in comparison to that of Statius. Many essential features of Flavian taste emerge from these studies.

Large-scale interpretations of individual poems are offered throughout this volume, making many new suggestions about both points of detail and the overall significance of the major poems in the Silvae.

Statius and the Silvae is an important contribution to the debate on the relationship between poetry and rhetoric, and to the understanding of how society and literature interconnected in the Flavian age.



I: Poets and Patrons

1. Origins

2. The Greek Professional Poet

Excursus. The Bidden and the Unbidden Poet

3. Imperial Patronage

4. The Career of Martial

5. The Career and Friends of Statius

II: Epideixis

6. The Epideictic Background: Occasion and Improvisation; Praise in the Epic Style; Epideictic Rhetoric and Poetry

7. The New Rhetoric: Silvae 2,6. Use and Understanding of Rhetorical Prescription; Silvae 1,2. The Limits of Artistic Elaboration; SiIvae 2,7. The Amalgam of Greek and Roman Elements

8. Epigram and Ekphrasis: Silvae 3,4. Epic-Style Epigram Expansion; Silvae 3,1. The Anathematikon and the Ceremony of Dedication. Encomiastic Ekphrasis: the Hellenistic Background: Silvae 1,1. Statue Dedication and Ekphrasis; Silvae 1,5. Symposium and Ekphrasis

III: A Neapolitan Poet at Rome

9. Personality

10. The Veteres: Silvae 3,2. Multiple Imitation of Augustan Generic Models; Silvae 4,2. An Encomiastic Version of a Horatian Epistle

11. Private Life: The Portrayal of Wealth in the Silvae: Silvae 1,3. Epicureanism, Quies and Studia; Silvae 4,5. Equestrian Quies

12. Public Life: Silvae 5,1. A Freedman Secretary under Threat; The Elogium of Rutilius Gallicus: a Model Career; Silvae 1,1 and 4,1. Dornitian, Julius Caesar and the Succession; Silvae 1,4. Rutilius Gallicus and the Novum Saeculum

Notes; Bibliography; Indexes


Phoenix 39 (1985) 408-10 (Peter White)

L'Antiquité classique 54 (1985) 400 (Michel Dubuisson - brief notice)

Latomus 43 (1984) 175 (Alain Martin)

Greece and Rome (1984) 87 (Fred Robertson - brief notice)

Classical Review (1984) 190-92 (Kathy Coleman) "This book is a creative and timely contribution to scholarship on the Silvae. H. amasses an impressive array of evidence which will be of value to anyone concerned with poetry or with rhetoric in the early empire."

Revue des Etudes Latines 61 (1983) 396-7 (Luc Duret)

Classical Philology 80.4 (1985) 371-4 (E. Courtney)