‘Fame Is The Spur’: Memoria, Gloria, and Poetry Among the Elite in Flavian Rome

by Anderson, Peter John

Abstract (Summary)
In this dissertation I situate and analyze expressions of renown in nugatory poetry of the Flavian period – Statius, Martial, and Pliny – within the context of Roman elite attitudes toward memoria and the literary tradition of the poet’s own success and renown. I assess the extent to which elite concern for commemoration affect literary expressions of the poet’s own renown. I begin in Chapter One “Memoria” with a series of illustrative examples in support of the base assertion that concern for memoria is symptomatic of Roman elite culture. I suggest – through brief analyses of Cicero’s post-consular and post reditum speeches, Tacitus’ de vita Julii Agricolae, the so-called damnatio memoriae and the Senatus Consultum de Pisone Patre, and two quasi-case studies on the importance of memoria for writers under the early empire – that the major motivation which seems to underpin this need to commemorate is the desire to ensure individual posterity and/or to assure a corporate family influence. In Chapter Two “Terms of Praise” I focus on those words used by poets in the Flavian period to describe their own excellence and success as poets. Five key terms dominate this discussion: fama, laus, nomen, honor(-os), and gloria. In Chapters Three (Statius), Four (Martial), and Five (Pliny) I undertake focused analysis of the expressions of and attitudes towards their own success and renown. Statius, a professional poet, serves in many respects as a counter example to Martial and Pliny, most of all because Statius shows no interest in the Silvae as vehicles for his own memoria or renown. He looks instead to his epic poetry in that regard. Martial, the jaded raconteur of elite attitudes and habits, provides an informative perspective on the criteria for a poet’s success, and on the consequences of success for memoria and renown. With Pliny I describe the motivations and assumptions underlying the production of literature – especially nugatory poetry – among his group of elite friends, relating these to similar aspects of literary culture in Martial.
Bibliographical Information:


School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:pliny minor martial statius gloria elite culture


Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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