STATIUS, PUBLIUS PAPINIUS (c. A.D. 45-96), Latin poet, was born at Naples. He was, to a great extent, devoted by birth and training to the profession of a poet. The Statii were of Graeco-Campanian origin, and were of gentle extraction, though impoverished, and the family records were not without political distinctions. The poet's father taught with marked success at Naples and Rome, and from boyhood to age he proved himself a champion in the poetic tournaments which formed an important part of the amusements of the early empire. The younger Statius declares that his father was in his time equal to any literary task, whether in prose or verse. Probably the poet inherited a modest competence and was not under the necessity of begging his bread from wealthy patrons. He certainly wrote poems to order (as Silvae, i. 1, 2, ii. 7, and iii. 4), but there is no indication that the material return for them was important to him, in spite of an allusion in Juvenal's seventh satire. Of events in the life of Statius we know little. From his boyhood he was victorious in poetic contests,—many times at his native city Naples, thrice at Alba, where he received the golden crown from the hand of the emperor Domitian. But at the great Capitoline competition (probably on its third celebration in 94 a.d.) Statius failed to win the coveted chaplet of oak leaves. No doubt the extraordinary popularity of his Thebais had led him to regard himself as the supreme poet of the age, and when he could not sustain this reputation in the face of rivals from all parts of the empire he accepted the judges' verdict as a sign that his day was past, and retired to Naples, the home of his ancestors and of his own young years. We still possess the poem he addressed to his wife on this occasion (Silv. iii. 5). There are hints in this poem which naturally lead to the surmise that Statius was suffering from a loss of the emperor's favour; he may have felt that a word from Domitian would have won for him the envied garland, and that the word ought to have been given. In the preface to book iv. of the Silvae there is mention of detractors who hated our poet's style, and these may have succeeded in inducing a new fashion in poetry at court. Such an eclipse, if it happened, must have cut Statius to the heart. He appears to have relished thoroughly the role of court-poet. The statement sometimes made that the elder Statius had been the emperor's teacher, and had received many favours from him, so that the son inherited a debt of gratitude, seems to have no solid foundation. Statius lauds the emperor, not to discharge a debt, but rather to create an obligation. His flattery is as far removed from the gentle propitiatory tone of Quintilian as it is from the coarse and crawling humiliation of Martial. It is in the large extravagant style of a nature in itself healthy and generous, which has accepted the theme and left scruples behind. In one of his prefatory epistles Statius declares that he never allowed any work of his to go forth without invoking the godhead of the divine emperor. Statius had taken the full measure of Domitian's gross taste, and, presenting him with the rodomontade which he loved, puts conscience and sincerity out of view, lest some uneasy twinge should mar his master's enjoyment. But in one poem, that in which the poet pays his due for an invitation to the Imperial table, we have sincerity enough. Statius clearly feels all the raptures he expresses. He longs for the power of him who told the tale of Dido's banquet, and for the voice of him who sang the feast of Alcinous, that he may give forth utterance worthy of the lofty theme. The poet seemed, he says, to dine with great Jove himself and to receive nectar from Ganymede the cup- bearer (an odious reference to the imperial favourite Earinus). All his life hitherto has been barren and profitless. Now only has he begun to live in truth. The palace struck on the poet's fancy like the very hall of heaven; nay, Jove himself marvels at its beauty, but is glad that the emperor should possess such an earthly habitation; he will thus feel less desire to seek his destined abode among the immortals in the skies. Yet even so gorgeous a palace is all too mean for his greatness and too small for his vast presence. "But it is himself, himself, that my eager eye has alone time to scan. He is like a resting Mars or Bacchus or Alcides." Martial too swore that, were Jove and Domitian both to invite him to dinner for the same day, he would prefer to dine with the greater potentate on the earth. Martial and Statius were no doubt supreme among the imperial flatterers. Each was the other's only serious rival. It is therefore not surprising that neither should breathe the other's name. Even if we could by any stretch excuse the bearing of Statius towards Domitian, he could never be forgiven the poem entitled "The Hair of Flavius Earinus," Domitian's Ganymede (Silv. iii. 4), a poem than which it would be hard to find a more repulsive example of real poetical talent defiled for personal ends. Every- thing points to the conclusion that Statius did not survive his emperor—that he died, in fact, a short time after leaving Rome to settle in Naples. Apart from the emperor and his minions, the friendships of Statius with men of high station seem to have been maintained on fairly equal terms. He was clearly the poet of society in his day as well as the poet of the court.