Man in an Artificial Landscape. The Marvels of Civilization in Imperial Roman Literature 9004036431, 9789004036437

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Man in an Artificial Landscape. The Marvels of Civilization in Imperial Roman Literature
 9004036431, 9789004036437

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MNEMOSYNE BIBLIOTHECA CLASSICA BATAVA

COLLEGERUNT W. DEN BOER



W.

J.

VERDENIUS

BIBLIOTHECAE

FASCICULOS

J. VERDENIUS,

W.



EDENDOS

HOMERUSLAAN

SUPPLEMENTUM ZOJA

R. E. H. WESTENDORP

BOERMA

CURAVIT

53, ZEIST

VICESIMUl\1 QUINTUM PAVLOVSKIS

MAN IN AN ARTIFICIAL

LANDSCAPE

THE MARVELS OF Cl VI LIZA TION IN IMPERIAL H.Oi\lAN LITERATURE

LUGDUNI

BATA VORUl\1 E.

J. BRILL

:\fC\fLXXIII

IN AN ARTIFICIAL LANDSCAPE MAN

THE MARVELS OF CIVILIZATION IN IMPERIAL ROMAN LITERATURE

BY

ZOJA PAVLOVSKIS

LUGDUNI BATAVORUM E.J. BRILL MCl\1LXXIII

Hany

Caplan munusculum

MAN IN AN ARTIFICIAL

LANDSCAPE

No reader of ancient literature will regard Statius or the younger Pliny as one of the greatest Latin authors. On the other hand, the usual modern tendency to dismiss most of the writers of the Silver Age as derivative and contrived I does little justice to the originality of many of them, and particularly Statius, who may well have been the first to devote whole poems to the praise of technological progress, as well as the delights of a life spent in a setting not natural but improved by man's skill. Pliny, m his tum, successfully introduced this poetic topic to prose. How difficult it is to do justice to such a literary theme can be seen in our own time. Convincing poetry, as well as other works of art, dealing with technological progress are scarce, although attempts in this direction obviously should be relevant and ought to fill a need.2 The attitude of modem artists toward technology is, however, ambivalent at best-at worst, fearful and pessimistic. Even an artist 1 Such op1111ons are widespread, and Statius particularly has suffered from them, especially in the past. Sec, for instance, J. W. Duff, A Literary History of Rome in the Silver Age (2nd ed., London 1%0), ;39;3 and elsewhere on Statius. Rather atypical is the favorable opinion of Alfred Biesc, Die Emwicklung des Naturgefiihls bei den Griechen und R6mcrn, pt. 2 (Kiel 1884), 156-7: Statius versteht mit kraftigen Strichen zu schildern; seine Liebe zum bescheidenen Lanclleben, die Bewunderung der freien wie auch der