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Title: Loss and the Boundaries of the Self in Statius’ Silvae
Authors: Klause, Amanda
Advisors: Feeney, Denis
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: Classical literature
Flavian Literature
Imperial Rome
Subjects: Classical literature
Classical studies
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation is a study of the consolatory poems in Statius’ Silvae, the most detailed and systematic examination yet offered of these works. The bereaved figures with whom Statius communicates in his consolations mourn the losses of their spouses, parents, and slaves. Drawing on recent inquiries into the history of the emotions in literature, my study focuses on the nature of the suffering caused by bereavement and the remedies for the alleviation of this pain that Statius proposes. I indicate how Statius’ grieving addressees are enmeshed in networks of relationships both with other people and non-human elements in their environment. In every case, the mourner’s bond with his loved one had been vital to his self-definition. The death, therefore, of that beloved person results in the dissolution of the mourner’s sense of self. Statius’ poems demonstrate the devastating effects of such a loss, including violent physical pain and alienation from natural environmental processes. I propose that the poet’s consolation consists in helping to reconfigure the survivor’s network and orientation in the world, whether through quasi-religious devotion to material objects or “replacement.” The dissertation is organized according to the types of loss for which Statius attempts to console his bereaved acquaintances: the death of a slave, the death of a wife, the death of a father. Each chapter develops thickly contextualized readings of Statius’ poems, exploring the particular significance of the relationships that Statius depicts for individual addressees, and considers how Statius modifies his consolatory tactics to suit different kinds of loss. The miscellaneous nature of the Silvae and of the consolations themselves provides a kaleidoscopic view of the various networks of relations in which Statius and his contemporaries found themselves involved. The poet, in his guise as consoler, emerges as an expert on the management of these bonds.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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