Statius’ Silvae and technical ekphrasis in the second sophistic
Project Description: Ekphrasis as a pedagogical exercise emerges in the late first century AD, but the underlying structures of ekphrasis as a concept in rhetorical theory are evident in much earlier writers. My thesis project attempts to analyse Statius' Silvae through the lens of the known features of ekphrasis in the period in which it was written. The focus of the analysis is on those sections of the Silvae in which ekphrasis seems not to conform to more modern models of ekphrasis that emphasise artistic subjects, but instead examines the building projects, infrastructure, and environment of first century AD Rome. These sections are of particular interest where they engage with other modes of writing which are connected by the common thread of ekphrasis, which could reinforce an interpretation of ekphrasis as a cross-genre element. This interpretation arises both from similar uses in generically distant texts, and from the analysis of rhetorical theorists that discuss the texts. By examining these sections of poetry through the lens of rhetorical theory, the project aims to demonstrate the close connection between epideictic rhetoric and the poetry of the and the enduring influence of rhetorical concepts of ekphrasis on other traditions of ekphrastic writing in this period. In doing so it also aims to open up new approaches to reading Statius' non-art ekphrases.