The Father's Tragedy: Assessing Paternity in Statius, Silvae
Silvae 2.1 mourns Glaucias, libertus-foster child of Atedius Melior.
Statius’s allusions to Vergil’s Aeneid examine fatherhood as a model for understanding other hierarchical relationships. Statius probes Vergil’s implied justification of Augustus’s rule as patria potestas via the princeps’ mythical descent from Rome’s founding father, Aeneas. Writing under Domitian—no Julio-Claudian—Statius scrutinizes an imperial authority still conceptualized as patriarchy. By substituting a freed slave-child, a bereaved old man and possibly an assassin’s victim for Vergil’s heroic vessels of Rome’s future, Aeneas and Anchises, Silvae 2.1 traces how the Aeneid’s logic of patrilineal superiority infantilizes and imperils even élite imperial subjects.
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