Claudian Criticism - Essay

Terrot Reaveley Glover (essay date 1901)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Claudian,” in Life and Letters in the Fourth Century, Russell & Russell, 1901, pp. 216-48.

[In the following excerpt, Glover examines the style, manner, and method of Claudian's panegyrics and invectives.]

We've drunk to our English brother
          (And we hope he'll understand).


It seems that both Virgil and Horace were invited to write a great epic on the deeds of Augustus, and both declined the task. Virgil, as we read in the third Georgic, thought of it, but he gave up the theme as unsuited to poetic treatment. Horace instead wrote the Emperor an epistle on literary criticism, though he would have...

(The entire section is 14059 words.)

J. H. E. Crees (essay date 1908)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Claudian's Silence: Contribution to History,” in Claudian as an Historical Authority, Cambridge University Press, 1908, pp. 183-92.

[In the following excerpt, Crees examines the question of Claudian's reliability as an historian, particularly when his subject is his patron, the powerful general Flavius Stilicho.]

The period which we have been considering is in no wise a rounded whole. Such unity as the Age of Claudian possesses, it derives from the fact that Claudian flourished then, and in his occasional poems celebrated contemporary history. If Claudian had continued to sound the praises of Stilicho until his death, 408 a.d., the years 395-408 a.d. could...

(The entire section is 2861 words.)

Harry L. Levy (essay date 1935)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Historical Background of Claudian's Invective, In Rufinum,” in The Invective “In Rufinum” of Claudius Claudianus, edited by Harry L. Levy, The W. F. Humphrey Press Inc., 1935, pp. 7-26.

[In the following essay, Levy examines the career of Flavius Rufinus, the subject inveighed against in one of Claudian's most celebrated poems.]


When Theodosius the Great died at Milan on January 17, 395, he left a troubled Empire to be divided between his two sons, the Augusti2 Arcadius and Honorius. The former received the Eastern, the latter...

(The entire section is 12955 words.)

Harry L. Levy (essay date 1948)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Claudian's Neglect of Magic as a Motif,” in Transactions of the American Philological Association, Vol. 79, 1948, pp. 87-91.

[In the following essay, Levy speculates that Claudian essentially ignored magic in his writings because it was associated with Eastern culture and Claudian wished to stress his identity as a Roman.]

In an article written in 1941, which has only recently reached this country, Eitrem discusses the use of magic as a motif in Greek and Latin literature.1 He begins his discussion of Greek writings with the Homeric poems, and ends with the authors of the Hellenistic novel. On the Latin side, his chronological range extends from...

(The entire section is 2027 words.)

Harry L. Levy (essay date 1958)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Themes of Encomium and Invective in Claudian,” in Transactions of the American Philological Association, Vol. 89, 1958, pp. 336-47.

[In the following essay, Levy examines three themes developed by Claudian, noting their close relationship to the political, social, and religious conditions of his time.]

Under the rubrics of encomium and invective can be listed the major portion of Claudian's writings. Some of his longer poems are panegyrics pure and simple. Here belong the encomia on the third, on the fourth, and on the sixth consulships of the Emperor Honorius; a panegyric on the consulship of Stilicho; another on that of the brothers Probinus and...

(The entire section is 4386 words.)

J. B. Hall (essay date 1969)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Claudian: “De Raptu Proserpinae,” Cambridge University Press, 1969, pp. 1-114.

[In the following excerpt, Hall critiques attempts to date the The Rape of Proserpine.]


Whereas the panegyrics and invectives can all be more or less precisely dated because of the references in them to historical events,1 the lack of such references in the three books of the D.R.P. [De Raptu Proserpinae], coupled with the disputed interpretation of its two prefaces, has given rise to a number of substantially different dating theories, no one of which has met with universal...

(The entire section is 4556 words.)

Alan Cameron (essay date 1970)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “From Panegyrist to Propagandist,” in Claudian: Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Honorius, Oxford University Press, 1970, pp. 30-45.

[In the following excerpt, Cameron examines Claudian's motivation for trumpeting Stilicho's policies in his poems.]

Rome in the late fourth century was not a city which welcomed foreigners. Ammianus Marcellinus, a Greek ex-soldier from Antioch, has left us a vivid record of the reception he met with when he retired to Rome. The parasitic urban plebs resented the extra mouths that ate their bread, and were always clamouring for foreigners to be expelled from the city, especially in times of scarcity. And the highly...

(The entire section is 6301 words.)

Sabine G. MacCormack (essay date 1981)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Emperor and His City,” in Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity, University of California Press, 1981, pp. 50-61.

[In the following excerpt, MacCormack analyzes Claudian's treatment of the theme of imperial arrival and presence.]


Julian's reign was incomplete; his own image of the imperial office was idiosyncratic and a little baffling to contemporaries. This makes all the more impressive the certainty of touch with which his adventus was seized upon in so many cities and articulated with such unusual zest and consistency. The element in adventus which made the ceremony a...

(The entire section is 6742 words.)

Jacqueline Long (essay date 1996)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Stance and Purpose,” in Claudian's “In Eutropium”: Or, How, When, and Why to Slander a Eunuch, The University of North Carolina Press, 1996, pp. 221-62.

[In the following excerpt, Long analyzes Claudian's attitude towards the relations between the western and eastern Roman empires, particularly as advanced in In Eutropium.]

Books 1 and 2 of In Eutropium are set apart by their different dynamic structures as formal invective and epic. They respond to different circumstances. This chapter explores the apparent aims of the responses. Book 1's systematic stepwise progress through argument, while exploiting various irrational prejudices,...

(The entire section is 20681 words.)