The poet Statius (1st century A. D.) was probably born in Naples, where he grew up and was highly educated in Greek and Latin literature at the school of his father. The memory of Naples is particularly recalled by Statius in the Silva 5,3 devoted to his late father and in the Silva 3,5, where Statius unsuccessfully tried to persuade his wife to move from Rome to Naples. Moreover we find hints to Naples also in Silv. 2,2; 3,1; 4,8, poems written for celebrating Statius's Neapolitan patrons (e.g. Pollius Felix, Iulius Menecrates), or in Silv 4,3, written in occasion of the inauguration of the Via Domitiana built by the emperor Domitianus to connect Puteoli (today Pozzuoli) and Naples with the Via Appia. From the analysis of the Silvae passages, where Statius mentions Naples, turns out that he provided the first literary image of the town, which has been then taken into account by the following authors of the Roman imperial literature. In representing Naples Statius's poems already seem to fix some differences in the cultural atmosphere between the active Rome, where culture is aimed both at the political career and the success in life, and Naples, which denotes a more philosophical and already decadent attitude. More recently, the comparison has been well resumed by Elena Croce in her famous book entitled Due città (Milan 1985). Unknown in the Middle Ages, the imagery of Naples created by Statius's Silvae was again stimulating other poets since the 15th century, when the Silvae reappeared first in Italy, and then in the rest of Europe. An important medium which transmitted and emphasize the legacy of Statius's Silvae, and consequently Statius's image of Naples, were the first commentaries on the Silvae written by the Italian humanists in the second half of the 15th century and the first decades of the 16th century (namely, Niccolò Perotti, Pomponius Laetus, Domizio Calderini, Politian, and Aulus Ianus Parrhasius). Although no one of these authors belonged to the Aragonian court of Naples, careful in creating a positive image of Naples, in these commentaries one can clearly see the interest in the literary myth of Naples Italian humanists had.

Naples - A poet's City. Attitudes towards Statius and Virgil in the Fifteenth Century

ABBAMONTE, GIANCARLO
2015

Abstract

The poet Statius (1st century A. D.) was probably born in Naples, where he grew up and was highly educated in Greek and Latin literature at the school of his father. The memory of Naples is particularly recalled by Statius in the Silva 5,3 devoted to his late father and in the Silva 3,5, where Statius unsuccessfully tried to persuade his wife to move from Rome to Naples. Moreover we find hints to Naples also in Silv. 2,2; 3,1; 4,8, poems written for celebrating Statius's Neapolitan patrons (e.g. Pollius Felix, Iulius Menecrates), or in Silv 4,3, written in occasion of the inauguration of the Via Domitiana built by the emperor Domitianus to connect Puteoli (today Pozzuoli) and Naples with the Via Appia. From the analysis of the Silvae passages, where Statius mentions Naples, turns out that he provided the first literary image of the town, which has been then taken into account by the following authors of the Roman imperial literature. In representing Naples Statius's poems already seem to fix some differences in the cultural atmosphere between the active Rome, where culture is aimed both at the political career and the success in life, and Naples, which denotes a more philosophical and already decadent attitude. More recently, the comparison has been well resumed by Elena Croce in her famous book entitled Due città (Milan 1985). Unknown in the Middle Ages, the imagery of Naples created by Statius's Silvae was again stimulating other poets since the 15th century, when the Silvae reappeared first in Italy, and then in the rest of Europe. An important medium which transmitted and emphasize the legacy of Statius's Silvae, and consequently Statius's image of Naples, were the first commentaries on the Silvae written by the Italian humanists in the second half of the 15th century and the first decades of the 16th century (namely, Niccolò Perotti, Pomponius Laetus, Domizio Calderini, Politian, and Aulus Ianus Parrhasius). Although no one of these authors belonged to the Aragonian court of Naples, careful in creating a positive image of Naples, in these commentaries one can clearly see the interest in the literary myth of Naples Italian humanists had.
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