Pablius Papinius Statius

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Pablius Papinius Statius Poems

Oh race confed’rate into crimes, that prove
Triumphant o’er th’ eluded rage of Jove!
This wearied arm can scarce the bolt sustain,
And unregarded thunder rolls in vain:

A robe obscene was o’er her shoulders thrown,
A dress by fates and furies worn alone. us
She tossed her meagre arms; her better hand’

Gentle divinity, how have I merited?
Whither, unfortunate wretch, have I strayed,
Thus of thy bounty to lie disenherited -
I alone whilst every other is paid?

Now Jove’s Command fulfill’d, the Son of May
Quits the black Shades and slowly mounts to Day.
For lazy Clouds in gloomy Barriers rise,
Obstruct the God, and intercept the Skies;

Fraternal rage, the guilty Thebes’ alarms,
Th’ alternate reign destroyed by impious arms,
Demand our song; a sacred fury fires
My ravished breast, and all the muse inspires.

For by the black infernal Styx I swear,
(That dreadful oath which binds the thunderer)
‘Tis fixed; th’ irrevocable doom of Jove;
No force can bend me, no persuasion move.

The king once more the solemn rites requires,
And bids renew the feasts, and wake the fires.
his train obey, while all the courts around
With noisy care and various tumult sound.

Pablius Papinius Statius Biography

Statius was a Latin poet, born in Naples in 45 AD. His father, a Greek and a teacher of rhetoric, immigrated to Naples in the first half of the first century. Statius was something of a child prodigy, quicking rising to fame as a poet. Since his father taught members of the senatorial class, his skills became known to the upper classes. From his boyhood he had won many poetic contests in Naples, three times in Alba, where he received the golden crown from the hand of the emperor Domitian. But, in 94 AD at the great Capitoline competition Statius failed to win the coveted chaplet of oak leaves. No doubt the extraordinary popularity of his Thebais had led him to regard himself as the supreme poet of the age, and when he could not sustain this reputation in the face of rivals from all parts of the empire he accepted the judges verdict as a sign that his day was past, and retired to Naples. In a poem he addressed to his wife on this occasion there are hints that Statius was suffering from a loss of the emperors favor. He may have felt that a word from Domitian would have won for him the envied garland, and that the word ought to have been given. In the preface to the Silvae there is mention of detractors who hated Statius' style, and these may have succeeded in inducing a new fashion in poetry at court. He appears to have relished thoroughly the role of court-poet. Statius' poetic expression is, with all its faults, richer on the whole and less forced and more buoyant than is to be found generally in the Silver Age of Latin poetry. Statius is at his best in his occasional verses, the Silvae, which have a character of their own, and in their best parts a charm of their own. There are thirty-two poems, divided into five books, each with a dedicatory epistle. Of nearly four thousand lines which the books contain, more than five-sixths are hexameters. The subjects of the Silvae are varied. Five poems are devoted to flattery of the emperor and his favorites. Six are lamentations for deaths, or consolations to survivors. Another group of the Silvae give picturesque descriptions of the villas and gardens of the poet's friends. In these we have a more vivid representation than elsewhere of the surroundings amid which the grandees of the early empire lived when they took up their abode in the country. The epic poems of Statius are considered less interesting. They are the product of long elaboration. The Thebais, which the poet says took twelve years to compose, is in twelve books, and has for its theme the deadly strife of the Theban brothers. There is also preserved a fragment of an Achilleis, consisting of one book and part of another. Statius died in Naples in AD 96 (estimated date))

The Best Poem Of Pablius Papinius Statius

Thebais - Book One - Part Iii

Oh race confed’rate into crimes, that prove
Triumphant o’er th’ eluded rage of Jove!
This wearied arm can scarce the bolt sustain,
And unregarded thunder rolls in vain:
Th’ o’erlaboured Cyclops from his task retires,
Th’ Æolian forge exhausted of its fires.
For this, I suffered Phœbus’ steeds to stray,
And the mad ruler to misguide the day;
When the wide earth to heaps of ashes turned,
And heaven itself the wand’ring chariot burned.
For this, my brother of the wat’ry reign
Released th’ impetuous sluices of the main:
But flames consumed, and billows raged in vain.
Two races now, allied to Jove, offend;
To punish these, see Jove himself descend.
The Theban kings their line from Cadmus trace,
From godlike Perseus those of Argive race.
Unhappy Cadmus’ fate who does not know,
And the long series of succeeding woe?
How oft the furies, from the deeps of night,
Arose, and mixed with men in mortal fight:
Th’ exulting mother, stained with filial blood;
The savage hunter and the haunted wood;
The direful banquet why should I proclaim,
And crimes that grieve the trembling gods to name?
Ere I recount the sins of these profane,
The sun would sink into the western main,
And rising, gild the radiant east again.
Have we not seen (the blood of Laius shed)
The murd’ring son ascend his parent’s bed,
Through violated nature force his way,
And stain the sacred womb where once lie lay?
Yet now in darkness and despair he groans,
And for the crimes of guilty fate atones.
His sons with scorn their eyeless father view,
Insult his wounds, and make them bleed anew.
Thy curse, oh Œdipus, just heav’n alarms,
And sets th’ avenging thunderer in arms.
I from the root thy guilty race will tear,
And give the nations to the waste of war.
Adrastus soon, with gods averse, shall join
In dire alliance with the Theban line
Hence strife shall rise, and mortal war succeed;
The guilty realms of Tantalus shall bleed;
Fixed is their doom; this all-rememb’ring breast
Yet harbours vengeance for the tyrant’s feast.”
He said; and thus the queen of heav’n returned;
(With sudden grief her lab’ring bosom burned)
“Must I, whose cares Phoroneus’ tow’rs defend,
Must I, oh Jove, in bloody wars contend?
Thou know’st those regions my protection claim,
Glorious in arms, in riches, and in fame:
Though there the fair Egyptian heifer fed,
And there deluded Argus slept, and bled;
Though there the brazen tower was stormed of old,
When Jove descended in almighty gold:
Yet I can pardon those obscurer rapes,
Those bashful crimes disguised in borrowed shapes;
But Thebes, witero shining in colostial charms
Thou cam’st triumphant to a mortal’s arms,
When all my glories o’er her limbs were spread,
And blazing light’nings danced around her bed;
Cursed Thebes the vengeance it deserves, may prove:
Ah why should Argos feel the rage of Jove?
Yet since thou wilt thy sister-queen control,
Since still the lust of discord fires thy soul,
Go, raze my Samos, let Mycene fall,
And level with the dust the Spartan wall;
No more let mortals Juno’s pow’r invoke,
Her fanes no more with eastern incense smoke,
Nor victims sink beneath the sacred stroke;
But to your Isis all my rites transfer,
Let altars blaze and temples smoke for her;
For her, through Egypt’s fruitful clime renowned
Let weeping Nilus hear the timbrel sound.
But if thou must reform the stubborn times,
Avenging on the sons the father’s crimes,
And from the long records of distant age
Derive incitements to renew thy rage;
Say, from what period then has Jove designed
To date his vengeance; to what bounds confined?
Begin from thence, where first Alpheus hides
His wand’ring stream, and through the briny tides
Unmixed to his Sicilian river glides.
Thy own Arcadians there the thunder claim,
Whose impious rites disgrace thy mighty name;
Who raise thy temples where the chariot stood
Of fierce Œnomaus, defiled with blood:
Where once his steeds their savage banquet found,
And human bones yet whiten all the ground.
Say, can those honours please; and canst thou love
Presumptuous Crete that boasts the tomb of Jove?
And shall not Tantalus’s kingdoms share
Thy wife and sister’s tutelary care?
Reverse, O Jove, thy too severe decree,
Nor doom to war a race derived from thee;
On impious realms and barb’rous kings impose
Thy plagues, and curse ‘em with such sons as those.”
Thus, in reproach and pray’r, the queen expressed
The rage and grief contending in her breast;
Unmoved remained the ruler of the sky,
And from his throne returned this stern reply:
“‘Twas thus I deemed thy haughty soul would bear
The dire, though just, revenge which I prepare
Against a nation thy peculiar care:
No less Dione might for Thebes contend,
Nor Ilacehus less his native town defend;
Yet these in silence see the fates fulfil
Their work, and rev’rence our superior will.

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