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Cannibalising History: Livian Moments In Statius’ Thebaid

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Chapter Summary

Statius' Thebaid is an epic of gore, Greek myth and the grotesque; Livy's history is a monumental account of Rome from its founding, comprehensive, and often dry. The intimate details of Tydeus' encounter with Melanippus dying and dead are shared with the reader, patterns of assonance increasing the vividness still further. One of the main points of contact between epic and history is battle narrative: both Statius and Livy tell the stories of battles: the meeting of armies, action and reaction, flight and disorder. The two most substantially investigated Livian moments in the The baid are the suicide of Menoeceus in Book 10 and the embassy of Jocasta in Book 7. There is more historical material than onemight expect buried in Statius' Theban ground. The repeated evocation of moments of Roman defeat is particularly striking. Most frequently the Argives are mapped onto defeated Romans.

Keywords: battle narrative; Livian moments; Melanippus; Menoeceus; Roman defeat; Statius' Thebaid; Tydeus

10.1163/ej.9789004177550.i-248.25
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