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The Commerce of WarExchange and Social Order in Latin Epic$
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Neil Coffee

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780226111872

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226111902.001.0001

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Exchange Eclipsed

Exchange Eclipsed

(p.185) Chapter Five Exchange Eclipsed
The Commerce of War
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the novel socioeconomic perspective of the Thebaid in relation to Statius's life circumstances, and also investigates how destructive consumption becomes the central economic theme of the Thebaid. It then argues that Statius creates innovative conceptions of the Roman virtues pietas and clementia in response to the appetitive excesses he envisions. The relative insignificance of gloria in the epic reflects its loss of vitality in imperial society. Jupiter's brother Pluto indicates most explicitly the delight that Jupiter takes in violence. The commodity language in Menoeceus' speech reflects the wording of the gods' demand for sacrifice. Niobe, Coroebus, and Menoeceus face the consumption and spending of the gods. Statius complements his interpretation of pietas with a notion of clementia that also encourages individual perseverance in the face of hostile dominant powers. Parthenopaeus, like Tydeus and Theseus, is carried along by a hunger for violence.

Keywords:   Thebaid, Statius, pietas, clementia, Pluto, violence, commodity language, Menoeceus, Parthenopaeus, Niobe

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