On Statius, Theb. 8.26 serunt animas and Its Interpretation in Later Readers

in Mnemosyne
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Although most recent editions print ferunt, this paper argues for serunt as the correct reading in Statius, Theb. 8.26. After discussing ferunt as a vague and colourless contribution to the description of Dis’ hellish court, I analyze serunt as a product of the poet’s lexical inventiveness: while he is the first to apply the verb to weaving, Statius connects sero to series and provides a Theban representation of the Parcae as spinners. Lexical enrichment guides the appropriation of myth. Secondly, I deal with two quotations of Theb. 8.26 in later readers of Statius. I suggest that Claudian’s encrypted reference to Statius’ passage in De Raptu Proserpina 1.52 echoes Statius’ stoicizing presentation of the spinning Fates. In Lactantius’ quotation, on the other hand, serunt is interpreted as a reference to reincarnation, in the context of a philosophical reading of Theb. 8.91-93. While supporting the authenticity of serunt, the two later references to Theb. 8.26 attest different interpretations of Statius’ unique (and debated?) usage of the verb.

On Statius, Theb. 8.26 serunt animas and Its Interpretation in Later Readers

in Mnemosyne


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Dewar 200965.


Lovatt 2010389.


See Corbeill 200443observing that such a synecdoche reflects in Latin poetry the implied dominance of the thumb over the other fingers.


Cf. Håkanson 197383stressing the antithetical correspondence between serunt and damnant.


See e.g. Micozzi 2010xvii for Statius’ style as on the one hand “saturo di esperienze culturali e incline alla complessità” and on the other hand “fortemente ellittico che ha il gusto della densità espressiva e del crittogramma.”


See Monno 2013135.

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