Statius – author of a coherent œuvre?
Newcastle University, 26-28 May 2022
The œuvre of the Flavian poet Statius is full of surprising contrasts: it consists of the polished Thebaid and the unfinished Achilleid, alongside the Silvae, a collection of semi-improvised occasional poems. At first sight, this œuvre seems as diverse as that of hardly any other extant Latin author. However, Statius uses precisely his occasional poems for setting his works in relation to each other. As early as the praefatio of the first book of the Silvae, Statius justifies himself for publishing these poetic products after just completing his Thebaid. As soon as a successor to his first epic is in sight, he also makes the Achilleid that is about to come into being part of his œuvre. Many implicit and explicit cross-references between the three works suggest that Statius is creatively engaging with the Callimachean-Vergilian idea of a poet’s unified œuvre. In general, when reading Statius’ works in parallel, one is struck by a plethora of shared ideas and motives, whose importance has so far not yet been fully realised and interpreted. These connections between Statius’ works with respect both to their production and reception will be the focus of our international conference.
Possible paper topics include, but are by no means limited to:
- What is the status of a Roman author’s second epic – especially given that Statius is the first post-Vergilian epicist, who after the completion of his first epic has at least started a second one?
- To what extent does an author’s œuvre comprise imaginary works and works that have not been realised, such as the epic of Domitian that Statius announces in all of his three works?
- Which reference points from the literary tradition are relevant for the idea of a unified œuvre by Statius, and why?
- What does the connection between Statius' works entail for the conception of the missing portion of the unfinished Achilleid?
- To what extent does the reception of Statius' works suggest that they have been seen as a unified œuvre?
- Statius' epics and the Silvae can be read as the two poles of highly polished vs. – allegedly – improvised poetry. What is the meaning, in this context, of shared motives, ideas and poetic techniques?
- The epics are set in the mythological world, the Silvae in contemporary Roman life: does this then also mean that Statius' mythological epics should be read as actually referring to Domitianic Rome, or rather as precisely not referring to it?
Antony Augoustakis; Helge Baumann; Federica Bessone; Gregor Bitto; Peter Heslin; Alison Keith; Gottfried Kreuz; Helen Lovatt; Charles McNelis; Emily C. Mitchell; Carole Newlands; François Ripoll; Cedric Scheidegger Lämmle; Claire Stocks; Anke Walter
We are applying for external funding, which would cover travel and accommodation.
Please send us an abstract of no more than 500 words by 30 September 2021.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the organisers:
PD Dr. Gregor Bitto
Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt
Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
PD Dr. Anke Walter
School of History, Classics and Archaeology
Newcastle NE1 7RU