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Replacing History: Inaugurating The New Year In Statius, Silvae 4.1

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Chapter Summary

On January 1st AD 95, the emperor Domitian acceded to his seventeenth and final consulship. The event was commemorated by a short panegyrical poem written by Statius. The poem is artful if obsequious, and cunning if not subtle, and short enough to be rather good fun. It is also a poem that plays with notions of history, time and historical writing, and this theme will be the main focus of this paper. The titles of individual poems which are transmitted in the manuscript tradition of the Silvae, although not Statius' own, are often revealing not only of the content of the poems pure and simple, but also of the manner in which these poems would like to be received. Domitian's temporal control is extended to an astronomical level. The emperor becomes, literally, a universal power.

Keywords: astronomical level; Domitian; Silvae; Statius



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