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Statius And The Greek Tragedians On Athens, Thebes And Rome

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Chapter Summary

The Thebaid of Statius ends with a pointed contrast between Athens and Thebes when the forces of Theseus and Creon meet in the final battle of the epic. A Roman reader might well have wondered which city his own was most like: fratricidal Thebes, wracked by civil war, or Athens, bringer of peace and cosmopolitan city of culture? This antithesis is, of course, framed from an Athenian standpoint, and the contrast with Thebes is particularly evocative of Athenian tragedy. As we will see, in the final book of the Thebaid the genre of tragedy epitomizes Athens in a specific, crucial way. This chapter argues that Statius emphasizes one particular aspect of tragedy, that distinctively Athenian genre, in order to turn Athens into both a positive and a negative paradigm for Rome.

Keywords: Athens; Rome; Statius; Thebaid; Thebes



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