Self-fashioning and Horatian allusion in Statius's "Silvae"
Kershner, Stephen M.
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation attempts to isolate Statius's strategies of self-promotion in using the allusion to Horatian poetic themes, techniques, and tone. I argue that Statius used Horatian influence as a "stepladder" to define and present his poetic strengths and thereby his position within the literary tradition. This process offers Statius a more definitive and authoritative position within the literary tradition and his contemporary cultural milieu. This argument is constructed over four close readings of individual Silvae each of which display an intricate use of allusion to define Statius's poetic practice. First, in Silvae 2.7, Statius resituates himself as a Horatian-style poetic vates in contrast to Lucan's more oppressed vates in order to empower and authorize his poetic expressions as they meet head-on with the literary tradition and his real-world context. Second, in Silvae 4.7, Statius constructs a careful atmospheric allusion to Odes 4.2 and makes reference to Pindar, Callimachus, and other Greek poetic figures, in order to define and integrate his dual poetic genealogy. Statius thereby shows that he is a product of both the Latin and the Greek traditions and thus rivals his contemporaries and places himself in a more authoritative position. Third, in Silvae 3.2, Statius integrates layers of allusion to both the lyric genre of propemptikon and epic poetry in order to define his poetic practice as innovative. By re-configuring the meaning of audacia, Statius is able to present his approach to poetic composition as daring and thus innovative. Finally, in Silvae 4.4, Statius presents a broad program of allusion to Horace's first book of Epistles as a way to present himself as a philosophical praeceptor for his socio-politically superior addressee. In this way, he is able to construct a more equitable and balanced relationship with his patron.