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This paper puts together the figure of Orpheus and the idea of the vates in order to explore the poetics of Statius in the Silvae. It shows that Statius struggles to be a serious and political poet. Orpheus is a reflection of both the power and the powerlessness of poetry: the poet and the patron in the world of the Silvae have intermittent power over the natural world, but neither has control over grief. The Orpheus of Statius's poems of lament is a voiceless vates: the effectiveness of poetry in the world is severely limited.