Into the woods: narrative studies in the 'Thebaid' of Statius with special reference to books IV-VI
University of Cambridge
Faculty of Classics
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Brown, J. (1994). Into the woods: narrative studies in the 'Thebaid' of Statius with special reference to books IV-VI (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.31069
Chapter one discusses the poetics of the silvan setting of the central Nemean episode, and argues that the Silvae add more to an appreciation of the Thebaid than has so far been appreciated. Chapter two traces the influence of the opening of Callimachus' Aetia III over the episode: the Victoria Berenices' aetiology of Herakles and Molorchus reconfigures our notions of the heroic, attributing new value to the small and insignificant. Chapter three explores the importance of Bacchus' epiphany in books IV-VI and discusses the impact of Euripides' Hypsipyle. The tragic, plangent women's voices which dominate the episode echo and amplify the voice of lamentation often heard in the Silvae. Chapter four contrasts the impotence of Eurydice's grief with the Dionysiac power of Hypsipyle's narrative of Lemnos. Chapter five argues, through study of Pindar's first Nemean Ode and Thebaid IV-VI among other texts, that Statius consistently measures baby Opheltes against the paradigmatic Hercules, contrasting the glorious beginnings of Hercules' life with the abortive story of the baby whose death provides the aetiology for the huge games of book VI. Chapter six shows again how Statius weaves a Callimachean "focus on the small shape" into heroic narrative through the story of another tiny death, to illustrate how the epic appropriates the smaller and subsumes it into the greater; the Seven against Thebes persist in interpreting events in Nemea in terms of Hercules' victorious encounter with the Lion. In chapter seven, I return again to Hercules and to the Silvae in discussing the memorialisation of Opheltes. Comparison of Silvae III 1's aetiology of the temple of Hercules at Surrentum to the epic narrative of the commemorative temple and games sheds light on Statius' construction of an 'interwoven' poetic, and further suggests how to read the Nemean episode within the wider epic.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.31069