In the Thebaid, Statius follows Vergilian epic precedent in using economic language, including prosaic financial terms, for its ethical connotations. These connotations are based in Roman notions of how improper modes of commodity and reciprocal exchange can disrupt society and lead to violence. This article considers how Statius uses this language to provide further insight into his characters' motivations and, in particular, to distinguish between the warring brothers of the Thebaid by assimilating the behavior of Eteocles to that of a stereotypical merchant and Polynices to a young Roman prodigal.


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