WILLY SCHETTER: Kaiserzeit und Spätantike. Kleine Schriften 1957-1992. Sonderband zur Zeitschrift Hermes und den Einzelschriften. Mit einführender Gedenkrede, Schriftenverzeichnis und Register herausgegeben von Otto Zwierlein. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 1994. 520 S. ISSN 0018-0777. DEM 168.
ARCTOS 29 /1995
Willy Schetter was a remarkable specialist in Latin literature of the imperial period and of the profane literature of late antiquity. His early death prevented him from completing the part VII of the Handbuch der Lateinischen Literatur: Kaiserzeit und Spätantike was published as a compensation. Kaiserzeit und Spätantike is a compilation of Schetter’s articles and book reviews in 1957-1992.
The variety of Schetter’s articles reflects his wide experience in Latin literature, especially in late Latin literature. The articles of the first part of the book deal with the literature of the imperial period, Seneca’s tragedies, Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica, Silius Italicus, Tacitus and particularly Statius (six articles).
The second part of the compilation is dedicated to late antique literature. Schetter has accomplished a great life’s work in studying late profane literature, including those authors who often fall easily into oblivion. He analyses Nemesian’s Bucolica ans its various aspects (dating, identification of its characters, etc.) and compares Nemesian’s ”Neoclassicism” with the classicizing style of the contemporary Lactantius. Schetter discusses problems concerning e.g. the Panegyrici Latini, Ausonius, Prudentius, Commodianus, Merobaudes, Sidonius Apollinaris, Secundinus, the anonymous Aegritudo Perdicae, Dares Phrygius’ Book of Troy, Ennodius, Maximianus, anonymous poems in Codex Salmasianus etc.
Schetter’s six articles about Dracontius are especially interesting: he analyses the transformation of classical myths and themes in North Africa at the end of the fifth century. Dracontius seems to have been the last Latin poet who (though Christian) treated pagan mythical subjects in epic form (e.g. Medea, Orestes, the Trojan War). The article on Dracontius’ Satisfactio gives a vivid picture of Dracontius’ difficulties during the Vandal period, and the article of Dracontius’ Romulea 9.18-30 surveys the conception of the astral ascent of the human soul in Latin literature.