A literary commentary on Claudian's De raptu Proserpinae
This commentary is designed to complement the edition of J.B. Hall and therefore generally avoids reduplication of his material on the manuscripts and textual history of the De Raptu Proserpinae except where germane to a discussion of a particular reading in the text. It is principally concerned with an elucidation of the literary qualities of Claudian based upon a study of this particular poem. It includes notes about the influence of contemporary politics and the Honorian court upon an otherwise purely mythological work, a discussion about the dating of the work with regard to Claudian's career and other literary productions, and an appraisal of his treatment of the myth as epic poetry and of the failure of the grand design in spite of some excellent parts. It also deals with the various sets of images and themes that give the work an overall unity, while the details alter in accordance with the conception of the moment; with Claudian's portrayal of character, his methods of narrative composition and his heavy reliance on speeches and descriptions; with his humanization of the divine and his humorous appreciation of social conventions; with his wide range of learning, his interest in natural curiosities and his keen eye for detail; with his mastery of literary imitation, including a detailed examination of the sources of his motifs and the use he has made of his literary forebears; with his verbal precision, the fertility of his invention, his use of paradox, sententiae and other rhetorical figures, together with a variety of notes upon his elegant and highly polished metre; and with his vivid sense of colour, his gaiety and vivacity and sheer intellectual cleverness, so that one may be able to comprehend the high reputation he has enjoyed as a poet in every age since he wrote up to the present day.