Dante’s PURGATORY, Canto 21: STATIUS


Source: Erasmo di Valvasone (1523 – 1593) 




Poet Statius

Learned to write from Aeneid

Now he meets Virgil


NOTE: Statius, author of the Thebaid, an epic poem about the Seven Against Thebes, learned how to write poetry by studying Virgil’sAeneid. Now he learns that Virgil is standing in front of him. Purgatory has happy surprises.

This is the story of the Thebaid: Oedipus ruled Thebes, and after he died, his two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, decided to take turns ruling the city. Eteocles would rule for a year, and then Polynices would rule for a year, and so they would alternate as rulers of Thebes. However, after Eteocles’ first year of rule, he was greedy and refused to let Polynices rule for the following year. Polynices raised an army. Thebes had seven gates, and the seven captains in the army raised by Polynices each attacked one of the seven gates. The two brothers fought in single combat, and they killed each other.




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