Statius serves as the Christian parallel to Virgil (check out Virgil's "Character Analysis" for more on this). They are both epic poets, they both have vast stores of knowledge that seem to have taken five lifetimes to learn. They both guide Dante morally and spiritually. But the similarities end there. Statius is clearly set up as a superior model. He’s Virgil 2.0. It’s his faith that gives him the edge, which is why Virgil lets him start explaining concepts to Dante like the generation of the soul. It takes a certain amount of faith to fully understand that kind of theological stuff, in addition to the human reason that Virgil possesses. When Virgil falls silent in the Earthly Paradise, it indicates his disappearing presence. Of course, it’s not easy to see Statius taking his place, because he doesn’t do much talking either. However, at the end, it is Statius whom Beatrice summons to ascend to Heaven with Dante. Virgil has long since vanished.