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Intertextuality in Flavian Epic Poetry

English title Intertextuality in Flavian Epic Poetry
Applicant Nelis Damien Patrick
Number 146976
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Département des sciences de l'antiquité Faculté des lettres Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Other languages and literature
Start/End 01.06.2013 - 30.09.2016
Approved amount 630'744.00
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Keywords (6)


Lay Summary (French)

Le corpus de la poésie flavienne latine qui sera étudié dans le cadre de ce project consiste en: les 'Argonautiques' de Valerius Flaccus, la 'Thébaïde' de Stace, les 'Punica' de Silius Italicus.
Lay summary

Les trois poètes latins de la période flavienne (69-96 ap. J.-C.), Valerius Flaccus, Stace et Silius Italicus, jouissent depuis trente ans au moins d'une veritable renaissance critique. Dans le cadre de ce projet, nous espérons contribuer à ce processus de réévaluation en étudiant les techniques de réécriture mis en oeuvre dans la creation de ce grand corpus de poésie épique, afin de regarder au plus près la manière de laquelle ces auteurs imitent leurs prédécesseurs et ainsi de mieux les situer dans les courants de l'histoire littéraire antique. Ce travail se fera en collaboration avec une équipe de chercheurs à l'Université de Buffalo, The State University of New York (USA). Ces collègues travaillent dans le domaine des 'digital humanities', et ils ont créé un outil informatique (libre pour tous sur leur site: qui permet de chercher facilement et rapidement  les parallèles verbaux entre deux textes littéraires. A travers l'alliance de la philologie traditionnelle et le pouvoir de l'informatique, nous espérons approfondir nos connaissances de la nature de la poésie flavienne latine et aussi contribuer à l'essor des 'digital humanities' dans l'étude de la poésie antique.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 13.05.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants



Intertextuality and narrative context: digital narratology?
NelisDamien, ForstallChristopher, Galli Milic Lavinia (2017), Intertextuality and narrative context: digital narratology?, in Journal of data mining and digital humanities, 1-26.


Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Tesserae, University of Buffalo, SUNY. United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
126527 Latin Poetry: Studies in Intertextuality 01.06.2010 Project funding


It is widely recognized that the epic poetry of the Flavian period (69-96 CE), represented for us by the three surviving poets Silius Italicus, Statius and Valerius Flaccus, marks an important stage in the history of Latin intertextuality. For most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, these authors were generally relegated to an imaginary second division of Roman poets, at best seen as representative of a ‘silver’ age, at worst as proof of an irreversible trend towards hopeless decadence in Latin literature. In the latter part of the twentieth century, however, this dismissive approach underwent significant change, and a series of important studies began to lead to a radically new evaluation of these texts. An important role in this process of renewal has been played by the appreciation of the complexity of the allusive techniques of the authors in question, and there can be little doubt today that in the field of complex intertextuality that much work still remains to be done on the large corpus of surviving texts at our disposition. In making this claim, it is necessary to note immediately that a large amount of excellent work has already been done in this general area. Over the last thirty years or so, one of the most valuable and exciting trends in the study of Flavian epic has been the publication of numerous commentaries on individual books. Some of these have achieved almost classic status in our field, such as M. Dewar’s Statius Thebaid 9 (Oxford 1991) and H. Smolenaars’s Statius Thebaid 7 (Leiden 1994). It is important to note also that these commentaries are building on a long tradition of earlier commentaries going back to the Renaissance (as investigated in detail for the Thebaid of Statius by V. Berlincourt, Commenter la Thébaide 16s-19s (Leiden, forthcoming)) and on such valuable modern contributions as H. Juhnke’s Homerisches in römischer Epik flavischer Zeit (Munich 1973). Nevertheless, despite all the excellent work that has already been achieved, it is our opinion that much remains to be done and that the time is ripe for the application of a more systematic approach to these texts, in light of developments in traditional methods of Quellenforschung, in modern literary theory and in the possibilities offered by computerized research and analysis. We believe that a combination of the web-based Tesserae project at Buffalo and recent advances made in the application of the Knauer-Nelis model at Geneva offer the best chance of innovative new work in this well-trodden field of research. Scholars will continue to publish traditional philological and literary commentaries on individual books of each epic poem, but we believe that there is a place for more detailed studies from a purely intertextual perspective, offering more complete lists of verbal parallels than can be accommodated in standard commentary format. Furthermore, we believe that this material (which in terms of its fundamental nature has its origins in the remarkable lists of textual similarities established by Knauer in his study of Vergil and Homer) should be made available to scholars via an innovative combination of the revolutionary on-line access offered by the Tesserae website and the more traditional forms of scholarly publication in journal articles, conference proceedings and monographs. In order to explore these subjects, we propose to focus on three topics in Flavian poetry:1.Studying an intertextual heroine: the Medea of Valerius FLaccus.2.Studies in the katabasis tradition: Silius Italicus.3.Studies in Statius, Thebaid 3.