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Reproducing RomeMotherhood in Virgil, Ovid, Seneca, and Statius$
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Mairéad McAuley

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199659364

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199659364.001.0001

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Metaphors and Mother Tongues in Thebes

Metaphors and Mother Tongues in Thebes

Statius’ Thebaid

Chapter:
(p.297) 7 Metaphors and Mother Tongues in Thebes
Source:
Reproducing Rome
Author(s):

Mairéad McAuley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199659364.003.0007

Chapter 7 examines the interplay in Statius’ Thebaid between the prominent representation of Theban mother figures, such as Jocasta, and the deployment of maternal imagery and tropes, especially of birth, generation, or a maternalized Theban earth. Elevation of the maternal voice (especially Jocasta’s) as a redemptive force is sabotaged by a disquieting maternal symbolism that aligns motherhood with the destructive forces of fraternal war. The chapter concludes that in Statius’ epic mother figures and maternal tropes interact to create a text that ‘suffers from’ a kind of maternal anxiety—a narrative that manifests acute insecurity about origins, birth, and the feminine body as the guarantor for meaning and truth. But unlike its model the Aeneid, the Thebaid, drawing on Senecan tragedy, makes drastically explicit that maternal anxiety rather than seeking to suppress it or delimit it; indeed it exploits its poetic and cultural potency as part of its revisionist epic programme.

Keywords:   Statius, Thebaid, epic, Jocasta, mourning, mother earth, maternal metaphor, Irigaray, Kristeva, abjection

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