Course Program

Along with Martial’s epigrams, the Silvae of Statius are the main document of occasional poetry of the Flavian age, that describes and celebrates ceremonies and rituals of social elite under Domitian. Long neglected as poor document of flattering poetry, this work has in recent years attracted the attention of scholars not only as valuable evidence of new cultural consumption, but also for its highly sophisticated literary quality, and for Statius’ creative engagement with earlier poets, both Greek and Roman.

Bibliographic references

An updated overall work on Statius is W.J. Dominik – C.E. Newlands – K. Gervais (edd.), Brill’s Companion to Statius, Leiden-Boston 2015. The standard critical editions of the Silvae are E. Courtney (Oxford 1990) and D.R. Shackleton Bailey (Cambridge, Mass. 2003). The only complete commentary is quite old but but still useful: F. Vollmer, P.P. Statius. Silvarum libri, Leipzig 1898. The most important commentaries to single books are H.J. van Dam, P. Papinius Statius. Silvae Book II. A Commentary, Leiden 1984; C.E. Newlands, Statius. Silvae. Book II, Cambridge 2011; K.M. Coleman, Statius. Silvae IV, Oxford 1988; B.J. Gibson, Statius. Silvae 5, Oxford 2006. For Italian translations cfr. A. Traglia (Torino 1980) and L. Canali (Milano 2006). Among the essays on the Silvae, cfr. H. Cancik, Untersuchungen zur lyrischen Kunst des P. Papinius Statius, Hildesheim 1965; A. Hardie, Statius and the ‘Silvae’. Poets, Patrons and Epideixis in the Graeco-Roman World, Liverpool 1983; R.R. Nauta, Poetry for Patrons. Literary Communication in the Age of Domitian, Leiden 2002; C.E. Newlands, Statius’ Silvae and the Poetics of Empire, Cambridge 2002; N.K. Zeiner, Nothing ordinary here: Statius as creator of distinction in the Silvae, New York and London 2005; C.E. Newlands, Statius, Poet between Rome and Naples, London 2012; G. Rosati, The Silvae: poetics of impromptu and cultural consumption, in Brill’s Companion to Statius cit., 54-72. Further bibliography will be suggested during class.




This course is structured as a whole in three modules of 20 hours each. It is intended for undergraduate students, but even PhD students can participate in it (provided that they attend at least the second and third module). It requires a good knowledge of Latin.