Strategies of encomium in Statius' Silvae

Giulia Brunetta

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Strategies of encomium in Statius’ Silvae

The present work is an examination of the rhetoric of encomia in the Silvae, a collection of occasional poems written by Publius Papinius Statius during the age of the emperor Domitian. The analysis focuses in particular on the features of the language of praise and its construction, with particular attention to recurrent patterns and themes. Given the variety of poems included in the Silvae, a selection has been made based on some of the main themes featured in the collection.
Therefore, the first two chapters of the thesis examine the strategies of encomium in the context of the imperial court of Domitian. The representation of the figure of the emperor is analysed together with some relevant representatives of his entourage, such as officers and favourite slaves. My aim is to offer a detailed analysis of the strategies employed by Statius through the medium of poetry of praise to offer an interpretation of the reality of the Domitianic era. Given the prominence of these poems in the Silvae, a further distinction has been made within this group between poems directly addressed to the emperor, and poems indirectly connected with the imperial figure.
The third chapter of the thesis examines the more private sphere represented in the collection. The choice of the poems has been made once again according to relevant themes (domestic scenarios, patronage). This part of the thesis explores the strategies of praise employed in encomia of private patrons or friends of the poet’s. The aim is to show the presence of patterns in the interpretation of the encomiastic genre, and to value the experimentations that Statius carries out both in terms of poetic style and themes.
In the last chapter, a further intertextual comparison with some selected satires of Juvenal concludes the work.
The thesis aims to be an important contribution within the field of Statian studies, and to offer in particular a re-valuation of the Silvae as a most relevant and interesting interpretation of the reality of the empire.

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Powell, Jonathan G.F., Supervisor
Award date1 Jun 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013

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