Aricò 1961, Vessey 1970, Brown 1994 : 57-93, Soerink 2014a.
Nugent 1996, Gibson 2004.
Brown 1994 : 30-56, Delarue 2000 : 123-40, McNelis 2007, Soerink 2014b : 47-56.
McNelis 2007 : 77.
Delarue 2000 : 135.
McNelis 2007 : 12 ; cf. 128 with n. 9.
McNelis 2007 : 91.
This article builds on chapter 5 of my dissertation, Soerink 2014b : 57-67.
Most editors read Amphiaraus ait : ‘ne, quaeso ! absistite ferro’. Although there are parallels for quaeso in Latin epic (e.g. 3.389, 6.171, 12.305, Aen. 8.573, 12.72-3, Val. 7.478, 8.280), the elliptical ‘ne, quaeso !’ is extremely awkward and without parallel. In an attempt to produce one fluent sentence, Hall conjectures adsistite : ‘Do not, I pray, make your stand with the sword’. However, ne ... adsistite is extremely unlikely in the light of Aen. 11.307 (Latinus speaking) nec uicti possunt absistere ferro (Deipser 1881 : 27 notes the parallel) ; cf. also Aen. 6.259 totoque absistite luco, Val. 3.451 absistite bellis. In my opinion, the text is corrupt. In addition to the awkard ‘ne, quaeso !’, the word ait cannot stand : like inquit, ait is always inserted after the commencement of the speech (for Statius’ speeches with ait see Dominik 1994 : 342-6). An alternative to ait does not easily present itself. There seems to be no other uerbum dicendi that fits the hexameter. Sometimes Statius omits the uerbum dicendi (see Dominik 1994 : 19 ; cf. e.g. 4.832) : could that be the case here ? In some MSS we find agit, which does not make sense. Perhaps adit (cf. 10.205) ? That seems unlikely after the preposition inter (667). ne seems to be warranted by neue in the following line (and by the Vergilian intertext).
Deipser (1881 : 30 ; cf. Parkes on 4.836).
The Vergilian passage also underlies 4.401 tu peior, tu cede (a few lines after 4.398 unusque ... sanguis mentioned above), where a maenad foresees a fight between two bulls (i.e. Eteocles and Polynices), aligning the fraternas acies of the poem with Roman civil war.
In 5.588-604 Statius reworks Luc. 2.20-8, which again puts the Theban War in the Thebaid on a par with the civil war in Lucan’s Bellum ciuile. See Soerink 2014b ad loc.
My interpunction follows Shackleton Bailey and Hall ; others punctuate pergite in excidium socii, si tanta uoluptas, / sanguinis. However, theenjambment and an oxymoronic combination of uoluptas and socii sanguinis seems congenial to Statius ; cf. the conditional clauses in 10.431-2 regem si tanta cupido / condere and 11.433 sceptri si tanta cupido est, where we find similar features : postponed si, enjambment, and a genitive or epexegetic infinitive that specifies cupido (cf. also 7.22 ferrique insana uoluptas, 10.266-7 uoluptas / caedis).
Brown has argued that the god’s entrance can also be read metapoetically as an indication that the following episode will be in tragic fashion, as the Nemean episode takes its plot from Euripides’ Hypsipyle (Brown 1994 : 57-9 ; cf. Soerink 2014a : 177-8).
Critics have been troubled by these companions, ‘more suited to the entourage of Mars, a god who also might be expected to arrive from Thrace’, than to Bacchus (Parkes on 4.661-3). Parkes solves the problem by saying that ‘Statius emphasizes the martial aspect [...] in order to build up to the anticlima<c>tic refusal of the god to use these forces’ (Parkes ibid.). Delarue even argues that Bacchus, despite everything, is a Callimachean figure, because the Mimallones (4.660) in his train are also mentioned in a fragment of Callimachus (Delarue 2000 : 127-8 ; cf. Callim. fr. inc. 503 Pf.). The one-sided emphasis on Nemea’s Callimachean aspects has blinded critics to the obvious : Bacchus brings war.
Soerink 2014b : 72-8.
See McNelis 2007 : 50-75 ; the citation is from Newlands 2012 : 86.
On the Nemean episode as mise en abyme see Soerink 2014b : 68-84.
Taisne 1972 : 358.
Brown’s argument that gelidam ‘casts a mysterious chill over the scene, recalling Eteocles’ ghastly lucus’ (1994 : 21-2) does not convince. Admittedly, the word also occurs in Statius’ description of the bleak Theban forest, but cold is not something ‘sinister’ (ibid. 17) in itself ; it takes its associations, positive or negative, from the context. And in the description of Nemea, as in other descriptions of idyllic landscapes, words like gelidus clearly refer to the pleasant coolness of shade (cf. e.g. Aen. 8.159 Arcadiae gelidos ... finis, Ov. Met. 2.455 nemus gelidum).
Bacchus’ speech (4.684-96) is notable for its variation in ‘water words’ ; we find fluuiorum, fontibus, amnes, stagna, riuos, liquor and gurgite.
Cf. 5.10, 6.91, 113, 155 etc. In the Siluae Nemea is given the epithet frondens (1.3.6).
Brown 1994 : 9 with n. 56. In Ʃ Pind. Nem. hypoth. c we find two Greek etymologies : the name should derive either from the nymph Nemea, daughter of Zeus and Selene, or ἀπὸ τῶν βοῶν τῶν ὑπὸ Ἄργου νεμομένων ἐν τῷ χωρίῳ.
See Fantham 2009 : 181-4.
Elsewhere Statius employs the ideal locus amoenus to emphasise the horrors of the underworld. When Laius is leaving the underworld, an anonymous shade cries : heu dulces uisure polos solemque relictum / et uirides terras et puros fontibus amnes, tristior has iterum tamen intrature tenebras (2.23-4) ; cf. also 1.89-90 inamoenum Cocyton. Later in book 2, when Statius describes the locus horridus of the Sphinx, he calls attention to the very absence of Fauns and Dryads (2.521-2).
See McNelis 2007 : 87-8 ; Brown 1994 : 202 ; Parkes 2012 : xxiii ‘We may read this pollution as a signal of the narrative’s return to traditional martial epic’, with her note on 4.824-7. The source of muddied rivers as symbols of epic poetry is Callim. Ap. 108-12.
The epic character of the scene also appears from its being echoed in Hippomedon’s fight with the river in 9.225-569.
Brown 1994 : 12.
Newlands 2004 : 133.
Newlands 2004 : 134.
See Brown 1994 : 199-203 ; Newlands 2004 : 144-5 ; Ganiban 2013 : 260-1.
Brown 1994 : 50, in her extensive discussion of Callimachus’ poem, not making the connection with Statius.
Colace 1982 : 148 ; Brown 1994 : 45, 200 ; McNelis 2004 : 272. However, Statius may have in mind Ovid rather than Callimachus, cf. Am. 3.1.1 stat uetus et multos incaedua silua per annos, Fast. 2.435-6 multis incaeduus annis / Iunonis magnae nomine lucus erat, and esp. Met. 3.28 silua uetus stabat nulla uiolata securi. Cf. also Silv. 5.2.69-70 nescia falcis / silua.
In addition to its primary model Aen. 6.179-82, where the Trojans hew down a primordial Italian grove for Misenus’ pyre (a passage with clear metapoetic overtones ; see Hinds 1998 : 11-4), the catalogue of trees recalls Ecl. 6.1-8, 7.61-8 (Brown 1994 : 24, 202), while the destruction of the grove also looks back to Luc. 3.399-452 ; see Ganiban 2013 : 260-1 with references.
On the Italian deities inhabiting the Greek grove see Fantham 2009 : 181-4, Newlands 2012 : 34 ; cf. Ganiban 2013 : 261.
Colace 1982 : 147-8 ; cf. Brown 1994 : 45 and 200, McNelis 2004 : 272. In all likelihood, however, Statius took his inspiration from some Latin predecessor, e.g. Ov. Met. 14.532 alimentaque cetera flammae (see further Fortgens ad loc.).
Ganiban 2013 : 261. On the sacrilegious aspects of deforestation see Frazer on Ov. Fast. 4.751, Hollis on Ov. Met. 8.741-2 and esp. Leigh (1999). It may be worth noting that, before they were conquered by Theseus, the Amazons also used to fell trees (12.526).
Although biographical approaches are no longer in vogue, it is possible that Statius’ description of the scorched landscape is connected with the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 ad, on which his father was writing a poem when death overtook him (see Silv. 3.5.72-4, 4.4.178-86, Nauta 2002 : 195-6, 199).
This personifcation is probably a Statian innovation (Parkes ad loc.).
The destructive plague of Apollo is also described in terms of fire, cf. 1.634-5 ab aethere laeuus / ignis, 654 ignique, 662-3 ardentem ... Letoiden.
Parkes ad loc. notes that ardentes not only means ‘flashing’, but also ‘conveys the hotness of the sun-baked metal shields’.
4.665 solem radiis ignescere ferri, an extremely daring inversion ; see Parkes ad loc.
Newlands (2012 : 59-60) nicely observes that the poem’s closure is associated with water, as the Thebaid reaches its harbour (12.809). For the narrator’s poetic furor cf. also 12.808 nouus ... furor.
Statius is not the first to assimilate the destructiveness of war to fire ; the metaphor has a long literary history ; see Harrison on Aen. 10.405-11, Tarrant on Aen. 12.521-6 and cf. e.g. Il. 11.153-7, 15.605-6, 20.490-2, Ap.Rh. 1.1026-8 ; Ross 2007 : 24 points out that the Georgics too ‘returns again and again to the opposition of fire and water, the destructiveness of war opposed to civilizing progress’.
The passage has always been read as an illustration of familial pietas, the loving brothers Thoas and Euneus contrasting with the sons of Oedipus (e.g. Vessey 1973 : 190, Brown 1994 : 218 n. 123, Lovatt 2005 : 26, McNelis 2007 : 92-3). Yet their brotherly pietas is seriously contaminated by some disturbing intra- and intertextual echoes. The description of the embrace (5.721-2 matremque auidis complexibus ambo | diripiunt alternaque ad pectora mutant) is troubled by the violent diripiunt, while auidis seems to have erotic overtones, esp. after causa uiae genetrix (5.715), which echoes Ov. Met. 10.23 causa uiae est coniunx and thus aligns Euneus’ and Thoas’ search for their mother with Orpheus’ quest for Eurydice, suggesting oedipal desires (often suggested for Eteocles and Polynices, see Hershkowitz 1998 : 271-82, 4.88 with Parkes, 7.499 teris with Smolenaars). We may also remember that the twins have been raised by Lycaste (a name that might echo Acaste, nurse of Argia and Deipyle, cf. 1.529-31), who killed her twin brother (cf. 5.226-35, 467). Most importantly, the phrase alternaque ad pectora mutant cannot fail to recall Eteocles and Polynices (cf. e.g. 1.138-9, 2.444, 10.800-1). Perhaps Hypsipyle’s sons, eager to hold and unable to share, are not so different from Eteocles and Polynices after all ?
Statius’ simile in 5.723-4 clearly echoes Vergil’s in Aen. 7.586-90 and 10.693-6. See Soerink 2014b ad loc.
Lovatt 2005 : 13. Cf. Brown 1994 : 54, who sees Callimachus’ influence ‘in the “magnification” of the tiny and domestic at the expense of the huge and heroic’. McNelis argues that the Nemean Games are essentially Callimachean, with reference to Prop. 2.34.37-8, where according to McNelis ‘Propertius singles out Archemorus’ funeral games as part of the Theban story that is appropriate for a Callimachean’ (2007 : 19) ; these controversial lines, however, may well express the very opposite idea (see Fedeli on Prop. 2.34.33-40).
Lovatt 2005 : 29, passim ; cf. most explicit 6.456-9.
6.438-9 prior Hippodamus fert ora sequentum, / fert gemitus multaque umeros incenditur aura (cf. 6.603-5) may recall Suppl.Hell. 254.8-10 ἔθρεξαν προ[τέρω]ν οὔτινας ἡνιόχων / ἄσθματι χλι[αίνοντε]ς ἐπωμίδας ‘they ran nor did they warm with their breath the shoulders of anyone in front of them’ (Colace 1982 : 144 ; cf. McNelis 2004 : 272). However, as Colace 1982 : 144 points out, ‘l’identità della situazione e l’impiego della medesima immagine basterebbero a garantire la presenza diretta del testo callimacheo alla memoria del poeta latino, se un’analisi di tutta la sezione della Tebaide relativa ai giochi non rivelasse altri preziosi echi tratti dalla Victoria Berenices’, and the phrase could also derive from Il. 23.380-1 πνοιῇ δ’ Εὐμήλοιο μετάφρενον εὐρέε τ’ ὤμω / θέρμετο (which underlies Callimachus ; cf. Colace loc. cit.) and Geo. 3.111 umescunt spumis flatuque sequentum (which looks back to Homer and, perhaps, Callimachus ; see Thomas ad loc.) ; see Pavan on 6.438-9 (who does not even mention Callimachus).
Despite Aet. fr. 58 Harder ἄξονται δ’ οὐχ ἵππον ἀέθλιον, οὐ μὲν ἐχῖνον / βουδόκον (‘and as a prize they will receive no racing-horse, no cauldron able to contain an ox’), in Statius we find a horse (6.644 equum) and a Herculean bowl (6.531-2 cratera ... Herculeum).
Delarue 2000 : 131.
McNelis 2007 : 90-1. Cf. also Augoustakis’ claim that ‘the middle of the Thebaid is transformed into an extensive Herois’ (2010 : 32), which similarly denies its epic nature.
Newlands 2012 : 52.
Cf. Ach. 1.10 Aonium nemus, where it refers to the grove of the Muses as well as the Thebaid.
Cf. Parkes 2012 : xxxiii n. 90 ‘in some respects the interlude at Nemea is also evocative of the pastoral delay of Aeneid 8 (cf. the stories of Hypsipyle in Theb. 5 and Evander in A. 8)’. Brown 1994 : 53-4 connects Thebaid 4-6 and Aeneid 8 in that both episodes look back to Callimachus’ Victoria Berenices, which underlies the theme of ‘theoxenic aetiology’ as well as Hercules’ presence in Aeneid 8.
Cf. Aen. 8.102-89, 306-69, 454-585 ; woods e.g. 8.104 and 125 luco, 8.108, 345 and 351 nemus, 314 haec nemora, 342 lucum ingentem, 348 siluestribus ... dumis, 350 siluam ; humble lifestyle 8.100 res inopes, 105 pauper, 176 gramineo ... sedili, 178 solio ... acerno, 360 pauperis Euandri, 455 humili tecto, 543 paruosque penatis ; presence of Jupiter 8.351-4 ; there is also mention of nymphs, Aen. 8.314, 336, 339.
Conspicuous echoes include 5.638-9 ~ Aen. 11.139-40, 5.651-2 ~ Aen. 11.145-6.
For the connection between Nemea and Arcadia cf. also Aen. 12.517-9 et iuuenem exosum nequiquam bella Menoeten, / Arcada, piscosae cui circum flumina Lernae / ars fuerat pauperque domus etc. and Val.Fl. 1.35-6 olim Lernae defensus ab angue / Arcas.
Brown 1994 : 137-42 discusses the ‘Wunderkind’ in the two Pindaric odes ; later (144-5) she also mentions Hor. Carm. 3.4.9-20. Strikingly, the Horatian puer falls asleep ludo fatigatumque somno (3.4.11), which parallels 5.502-4, while the poem also features a nurse (3.4.10 nutricis). Another example, we may note, is Glaucias in Silv. 2.1.48-9 cui sibila serpens / poneret.
Vessey 1973 : 105 ‘One is reminded of Virgil’s fourth Bucolic in which the birth of an infant is said to herald a new Golden Age ; in the Thebaid, the death of two babies [Opheltes and Linus] portends doom’. Brown 1994 : 133 develops the idea. In scholarly discussions of the Thebaid, however,Vergil’s Eclogues hardly play a role. Statius’ engagement with the Eclogues, according to silent communis opinio, occurs in his Siluae, not in his epic poetry : ‘The title [Siluae] also surely refers to Virgil’s programmatic use of the word siluae in the Eclogues. The connection with the Eclogues gives an attractive symmetry to St[atius]’s poetic corpus ; in his Thebaid he acknowledges the importance of the Aeneid (Theb. 12.816-7), and in the Siluae he makes literary homage to the Eclogues which, like St[atius]’s poems, strikingly intermingle naturalism and artifice, fantasy and politics’ (Newlands 2012 : 6-7).
Opheltes is called puer in 4.793, 5.539 ; Vergil uses the same word in Ecl. 4.8, 18, 60 and 62. Cf. Theb. 4.788 floribus aggestis (with Parkes’ note) and Ecl. 4.23 ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores. For tellus cf. Ecl. 4.14 terras, 19 tellus, etc. Brown 1994 : 133 connects 4.796 renidens with the child’s smile in Ecl. 4.60-3.
Brown 1994 : 22-9. One of her central arguments is that, as the Nemean episode in the Thebaid delays the epic expedition of the Seven, so Statius’ Siluae delay his epic project (cf. 1.5.8-9) ; and the many ecphrases in the Siluae, she ventures, have their counterpart in Hypsipyle’s narrative, ‘itself a form of narrative ecphrasis’ (28).
See Nauta 2002 : 249-50. On the possible relevance of Lucan’s Siluae nothing can be said.
Cf. Ecl. 1.2 siluestram ... musam, 6.2 nostra nec erubuit siluas habitare Thalea. Newlands 2012 : 9 n. 54 ‘The Augustan poet uses siluae as a collective image for his Eclogues’. We may add that siluae also represents the Eclogues in the false (but ancient) proem to the Aeneid, 1.1b egressus siluis. On the title Siluae, which not only looks back to Vergil’s Eclogues, but also carries associations with Greek ὕλη, speedy composition and (perhaps) variety, see Nauta 2002 : 252-4, Newlands 2011 : 6-7 with references.
Cf. Alfred Tennyson To Virgil ‘summers of the snakeless meadow’. For the serpent as symbol of the powers that threaten peace and prosperity, we may also compare the laudes Italiae in the second book of the Georgics, where Vergil also mentions the absence of snakes : nec rapit immensos orbis per humum neque tanto / squameus in spiram tractu se colligit anguis (Geo. 2.153-4). For snakes as symbols of evil cf. also Aen. 7.753-5, Hor. Ep. 16.52 neque intumescit alta uiperis humus.
Statius’ emphatically enjambed occidis (5.538) might even echo Ecl. 4.24-5 occidet et serpens, et fallax herba ueneni / occidet.
Cf. McNelis 2007 : 174.
Where the preceding phrase, Met. 1.145 non socer a genero [sc. tutus], could be applied to Adrastus and Polynices.
Cf. also the extensive account in [Sen.] Oct. 391-434.
Cf. Sen. Thy. 249 (Pietas), 1021, 1035-6, 1070. Statius refers several times to Atreus and Thyestes, cf. 1.325, 2.184, 3.308-10, 4.308, 6.280, 284, 11.127-9.
See McNelis 2007 : 47-8 with references.
Cf. Ganiban 2013 : 258 ‘Perhaps we might also recall description of the Golden Age, such as in Eclogues 4.23-4, wherin flowers will form cradles (cunabula), and the serpens will die. The deaths of Statius’ Opheltes and Linus both would then suggest the opposite of a Golden Age.’
The phrase is borrowed from Newlands 2012 : 3-4.
In the previous section we have seen that the dissolution of pastoral in favour of epic looks back to the second half of the Aeneid. Statius’ engagement with the fourth Eclogue and the poetic discourse of the Golden Age can also be connected with the Aeneid : in Thomas’ reading of the poem (Thomas 2004-2005), the primitive world of the Italians is a ‘golden’ Saturnian world, which the arrival of the Trojans and the following war corrupts into an ‘iron’ Jovian world. For a brief discussion and references see Lovatt 2005 : 147 n. 12.
Cf. e.g. 4.715 pastorum, 5.512 agricolae, 667 agrestum ... manus and also 4.681 aruis, 702-4 seges ... culmi ... pecus ... armenta.
To my knowledge, only Cazzaniga 1959 : 127 n. 4 has noted the parallel. Vessey 1986 : 2981-3 points to the relevance of the Calabrian water-snake for the snake simile in 2.410-4, but is silent on its connection with the Nemean serpent.
Theb. 5.520 saeuior and Cul. 175 acrior mark the second stage.
E.g. 5.538 extremae caudae < Geo. 3.423 extremae ... caudae. See further Soerink 2014b ad loc.
See Soerink 2014b : 82-4.
See S. 1 praef. et Culicem legimus et Batrachomyomachiam etiam agnoscimus, 2.7.73-4 (Lucan) haec primo iuuenis canes sub aeuo, / ante annos Culicis Maroniani, Mart. 8.55.19-20, 14.185-6. See Seelentag 2012 : 9-11.
See Seelentag 2012 : 144 ‘Dieses Szenario dient unserem Dichter als Grundlage’.
Janka 2005 : 40 n. 27.
See Soerink 2014b on 5.505-33.
Pavan on 6.242-8 notes the relevance of the culex’ tomb for Opheltes’ tumulus, also pointing to the correspondence between 5.558-67 and Cul. 192-7 (the killing of the serpent).
On ludus and praeludere see Janka 2005, Lovatt 2005 : 8-10.Haut de page