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Statius, Domitian And Acknowledging Paternity: Rituals Of Succession In The Thebaid

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Chapter Summary

As is well known, the poetry of the Flavian Age cultivates the myth of Augustan patronage as an ideal model, as a paradigm of the relationship between political power and intellectuals, and this model appears to be implied, to a certain extent, also in this passage, apparently in an attempt to create a close analogy between the Aeneid and the Thebaid. A clear correspondence emerges between the opening and the closing of the Thebaid, which symmetrically enact two ceremonies of succession and legitimation: the political one of Domitian in the prologue, and then in the epilogue the literary one of Statius, who succeeds his 'father' Virgil. Anyway, the poet's homage to the emperor is hardly disinterested: it is a sample of a more general negotiation Statius is proposing to political power: he is suggesting a political role for himself, as celebrator of the emperor, in exchange for imperial patronage.

Keywords: Aeneid; Domitian; Flavian Age; political power; Statius; Thebaid



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