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Statius, P. Papinius

A Roman poet born at Neapolis about A.D. 61. He was the son of a distinguished grammarian, and accompanied his father to Rome, where the latter acted as the preceptor of Domitian, who held him in high honour. Under the skilful tuition of his father, the young Statius speedily rose to fame, and became peculiarly renowned for the brilliancy of his extemporaneous effusions, so that he gained the prize three times in the Alban contests; but having, after a long career of popularity, been vanquished in the quinquennial games, he retired to Neapolis, the place of his nativity, along with his wife Claudia, whose virtues he frequently commemorates. He died about A.D. 96. His chief work is the Thebaïs, an heroic poem, in twelve books, on the expedition of the Seven against Thebes. On the composition of this poem Statius spent twelve years. There is also extant a collection of his miscellaneous poems (thirty-two in number, mostly in hexameters) in five books, under the title of Silvae; and an unfinished poem called the Achilleïs. Statius may justly claim the praise of standing in the foremost rank among the heroic poets of the Silver Age; and in the Middle Ages he was much read (cf. Dante, Purg. xxi.). The editio princeps of the epics appeared in 1470; that of the Silvae in 1472. The best editions of the Thebaïs are those of Kohlmann (1844) and O. Müller (bks. i.-vi., 1870); of the Achilleïs by Kohlmann (Leipzig, 1884); of the Silvae by Markland (1728), Hand (Leipzig, 1817), and Bährens (Leipzig, 1876).

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