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Old Society, New BeliefReligious transformation of China and Rome, ca. 1st-6th Centuries$
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Mu-chou Poo, H. A. Drake, and Lisa Raphals

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190278359

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190278359.001.0001

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Aesthetics of Enlightenment

Aesthetics of Enlightenment

Philosophical Continuity and Rhetorical Innovation in the Poetics of Roman Architecture

Chapter:
(p.53) 3 Aesthetics of Enlightenment
Source:
Old Society, New Belief
Author(s):

Mira Seo

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190278359.003.0004

Among the intellectual and literary elites of Roman Italy in the late first century CE, Christianity had yet to make significant inroads. The Stoicism of Panaetius and Seneca dominated ethical discourse in the imperial capital, whereas in the Hellenic center of Neapolis (Naples) and surrounding Campania, elites maintained the genteel Epicureanism of Philodemus. This chapter explores the innovative regional poetics and philosophy of the Bay of Naples through the architectural poems of Statius’s Silvae. Statius’s remarkable poetic innovation engages a new rhetorical approach to displays of material wealth and their social significance. In creating a new genre of “real estate” poetry imitated through late antiquity into sixteenth-century Rome and seventeenth-century England, Statius transforms earlier condemnations of lavish architecture and its tropes in philosophical and poetic discourses into ethical panegyrics to wealth. This chapter identifies Statius’s architectural poetics as a catalyst in philosophical and literary approaches to class, wealth, and social identity.

Keywords:   Statius, stoicism, Roman elites, Epicureanism, architectural poetry, material wealth, social class

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