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Ritual and Religion in Flavian Epic$
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Antony Augoustakis

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199644094

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644094.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 July 2021

Wasted Water

Wasted Water

The Failure of Purification in the Thebaid

Chapter:
(p.181) 10 Wasted Water
Source:
Ritual and Religion in Flavian Epic
Author(s):

Nicholas Dee

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644094.003.0011

This chapter discusses the ineffectiveness and perversion of lustration and other modes of purificatory ritual in Statius’ Thebaid. In several instances, attempts at purification in response to specific pollutants beget further pollution rather than eradicate it. Such failed atonements underscore and enhance many of the epic’s most prevalent themes: the overwhelming influence of nefas, sacrilege, the attempted expiation thereof(piaculum), and the Olympian gods’ capriciousness and declining influence. At different points in the poem, Eteocles, Polynices, and Jocasta undergo some type of (attempted) purification, but to no avail: the miasmic force of Oedipus’ crimes and curse prove indelible.

Keywords:   Statius, Thebaid, purificatory ritual, pollution, lustration, sacrilege, piaculum, Eteocles, Polynices, Jocasta, Oedipus

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