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On this page: Statius – Statius Achilles – Statius Annaeus – Statius Caecplius – Statius Gellius – Statius Metius – Statius Murcus

902

STATIUS.

4. statius, a tribune of the soldiers in the reign of Nero. (Tac. Ann. xv. 60.)

STATIUS ACHILLES. [achilles ta-

TIUS.]

STA'TIUS A'LBIUS OPPIA'NICUS. [Or-

PIANICUS.'J

STATIUS ANNAEUS, a friend of the phi­losopher Seneca, and well skilled in the art of me­dicine, provided Seneca with hemlock in order to hasten his death, when the blood did not flow in sufficient abundance from his veins ; but the poison took no effect. (Tac. Ann. xv. 64.)

STATIUS CAECPLIUS. [caecilius.]

STATIUS, DOMITIUS, tribune of the sol-diers in the reign of Nero, was deprived of his office on the detection of Piso's conspiracy, (Tac. Ann. xv. 71.)

STATIUS GELLIUS, a general of the Sam-nites, was defeated by the Romans and taken prisoner in b. c. 305. (Liv. ix. 44.)

STATIUS METIUS, held Casilinum for Hannibal in b. c. 214. (Liv. xxiv. 19.)

STATIUS MURCUS. [MuRcus.]

STATIUS, P. PAPFNIUS, a distinguished grammarian, who, after having carried off the palm in several public literary contests, opened a school at Naples, about the year a. d. 39, according to the calculations of Dodwell. He subsequently re­moved to Rome, and at one period acted as the preceptor of Domitian, who held him in high ho­nour, and presented him with various marks of favour. He was the author of many works in prose and verse, of which no trace remains, and died probably in a. d. 86. By his wife Agellina, who survived him, he had a son

P. papinius statius, the celebrated poet. Oar information with regard to his personal his­tory is miserably defective. He is named by no ancient author, except Juvenal, so that any know­ledge we possess of his family or career has been gleaned from incidental notices in his own writings, and many of these are couched in very ambiguous language. It appears that under the skilful tuition of his father he speedily rose to fame, and became peculiarly renowned for the brilliancy of his ex­temporaneous effusions, so that he gained the prize three times in the Alban contests (see Sueton. Dom. 4); but having, after a long career of popu­larity, been vanquished in the quinquennial games (Suet.Dom. I. c.) he retired to Naples, the place of his nativity, along with his wife Claudia whom he married in early life, to whom he was tenderly attached, and whose virtues he frequently com­memorates. From the well-known lines of Ju­venal, s. vii. 82,—

Curritur ad vocem jucundam et carmen amicae Thebaidos, laetam fecit quum Statius Urbem Promisitque diem: tanta dulcedine captos Afficit ille animos, tantaque libidine vulgi Auditur, sed, quum fregit subsellia versu, Esurit, intactam Paridi nisi vendat Agavem,—

we should infer that Statius, in his earlier years at least, was forced to struggle with poverty, but he appears to have profited by the patronage of Do­mitian (Silv. iv. 2), whom in common with Martial and other contemporary bards he addresses in strains of the most fulsome adulation. The tale that the emperor, in a fit of passion, stabbed him with a stilus, seems to be as completely destitute of foundaiion as the notion that he was a Chris-

STATIUS.

tian. Dodwell fixes upon A. d. 61 and a. d. 96, as the epoch of his birth and of his death, but these conclusions are drawn from very uncertain premises. Those dates, which can be ascertained with precision, will be noted as we review his productions in succession.

The extant works of Statius are : —

I. Silvarum Libri J7"., a collection of thirty-two occasional poems, many of them of considerable length, divided into five books. To each book is prefixed a dedication in prose, addressed to some-friend. The metre chiefly employed is the heroic hexameter, but four of the pieces (i. 6, ii. 7, iv. 3, 9), are in Phalaecian hendecasyllabics, one (iv. 5) in the Alcaic, and one (iv. 7) in the Sapphic stanza. The first book was written about A. d. 90 (i. 4. 91), the third after the commencement of a.d. 94 (iii. 3. 171), the first piece in the fourth book was composed expressly to celebrate the kalends of January, a. d. 95, when Domitian entered upon his 17th consulship, and the fifth book appears to have been brought to a close in the following year.

II. Thebaidos Libri XII., an heroic poem in twelve books, embodying the ancient legends with regard to the expedition of the Seven against Thebes. It occupied the author for twelve years (xii. 811), and was not finished until after the Dacian war, which commenced in A. d. 86 (i. 20), but had been published before the completion of the first book of the Silvae (Silv. i. prooem.; comp. iii. 2. 143, iv. 4. 86, &c.).

III. Achilleidos Libri //., an heroic poem breaking off abruptly. According to the original plan, it would have comprised a complete history of the exploits of Achilles, but was probably never finished. It was commenced after the completion of the Thebais (Achill. i. 10), and is alluded to in the last book of the Silvae (v. 2. 163, v. 5. 37). In some manuscripts this fragment is comprised within a single book, in others is divided into five.

Statius may justly claim the praise of standing in the foremost rank among the heroic poets of the Silver Age, and when we remember how few of the extant specimens of the Roman muse belong to this department, we do not feel surprised that Dante and Scaliger should have assigned to him a place immediately after Virgil, provided always we regard them as separated by a wide impassable gulph. While by no means deficient in dignity, and not unfrequently essaying lofty flights, he is in a great measure free from extravagance and pompous pretensions ; but, on the other hand, in no portion of his works do we find the impress of high natural talent and imposing power. Those passages which have been most frequently quoted, and most generally admired, display a great com­mand of graceful and appropriate language, a live­liness of imagination which occasionally oversteps the limits of correct taste, brilliant imagery, pic­tures' designed with artistic skill, and glowing with, the richest colours, a skilful development of cha­racter, and a complete knowledge of the mechanism of verse; but they are not vivified and lighted up by a single spark of true inspiration. The rules of art are observed with undeviating accuracy, and the most intricate combinations are formed without the introduction of a disturbing element; but there is a total absence of that simple energy which is the surest mark of true genius.

The pieces which form the Silvae, although

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