PERSIUS , in full AuLUS PERSIUS
See also:FLACCUS (A.D . 34-62),
See also:Roman poet and satirist . According to the
See also:Life contained in the
See also:MSS., Persius was a native of Volaterrae, of
See also:good stock on both parents' side . When six years old he lost his
See also:father, and his step-father died in a few years . At the age of twelve Persius came to Rome, where he was taught by Remmius
See also:Palaemon and the rhetor Verginius Flavus . Four years later began a close intimacy with the Stoic
See also:Cornutus . In this philosopher's
See also:Lucan, Persius found a generous admirer of all he wrote . Still in early youth he became the friend of the lyric poet Caesius Bassus, whilst with Thrasea Paetus (whose wife
See also:Arria was a relative) he had a close friendship of ten years' duration and shared some travels .
See also:Seneca he met later, and was not attracted by his
See also:genius . In his boyhood Persius wrote a tragedy dealing with an
See also:episode of Roman
See also:history, and a
See also:work, the title of which is rendered uncertain by corruption in our MSS .
See also:Pithou's generally accepted
See also:reading makes the subject that of travel; the excursions with Thrasea however must have taken place after boyhood . 'the perusal of
See also:Lucilius revealed to Persius hisvocation, and he set to work upon a
See also:book of satires .
But he wrote seldom and slowly; a premature
See also:death (uitio stomachi) prevented the completion of his task . He is described as possessed of a gentle disposition, girlish modesty and
See also:personal beauty, and living a life of exemplary devotion towards his
See also:mother Fulvia Sisenna, his
See also:sister and his aunt . To his mother and sister he
See also:left a considerable
See also:fortune . Cornutus suppressed all his work except the
See also:hook of satires in which he made some slight alterations and then handed it over to Bassus for editing . It proved an immediate success . The scholia add a few details—on what authority is, as generally with such
See also:sources, very doubtful . The Life itself, though not
See also:free from the suspicion of
See also:interpolation and undoubtedly corrupt and disordered in places, is probably trustworthy . The MSS. say it came from the commentary of
See also:Valerius Probus, no doubt a learned edition of Persius like those of Virgil and Horace by this same famous " grammarian " of Berytus, the poet's contemporary . The only case in which it seems to conflict with the Satires themselves is in its statement as to the death of Persius's father . The declaiming of a suasoria in his presence (Sat . 3 . 4 sqq.) implies a more mature age than that of six in the performer .
See also:pater might here mean " step-father," or Persius may have forgotten his own auto-biography, may be simply reproducing one of his
See also:models . The mere fact that the Life and the Satires agree so closely does not of course prove the authenticity of the former . One of the points of harmony is, however, too subtle for us to believe that a forger evolved it from the
See also:works of Persius . It requires indeed a thoughtful reading of the Life before we realize how distinct is the impression it gives of a " bookish " youth, who has never strayed far, at least in spirit, from the domestic
See also:hearth and his
See also:women-folk . And of course this is notoriously the picture
See also:drawn by the Satires . So much better does Persius know his books than the
See also:world that he draws the names of his characters from Horace . A keen observer of what occurs within his narrow
See also:horizon, he cannot but discern the seamy side of life (cf. e.g. such hints as Sat. iii. o); he shows, however, none of Juvenal's undue stress on unsavoury detail or Horace's easy-going acceptance of human weaknesses . The sensitive, home-bred nature of Persius shows itself perhaps also in his frequent references to ridicule, whether of
See also:great men by street gamins or of the cultured by
See also:Philistines . The chief
See also:interest of.Persius's work lies in its relation to Roman satire, in its
See also:interpretation of Roman Stoicism, and in its use of the Roman
See also:tongue . The influence of Horace on Persius can, in spite of the silence of the Life, hardly have been less than that of Lucilius . Not only characters, as noted above, but whole phrases, thoughts and situations come
See also:direct from him . The resemblance only emphasizes the difference between the caricaturist of Stoicism and its preacher .
Persius strikes the highestnote that Roman satire reached; in earnestness and moral purpose rising far
See also:superior to the
See also:political rancour or good natured persiflage of his predecessors and the rhetorical indignation of Juvenal, he seems a forerunner of the great Christian Apologists . From him we learn a lesson Seneca never taught, how that wonderful philosophy could work on minds that still preserved the
See also:depth and purity of the old Roman gravitas . When the Life speaks of Seneca's genius as not attracting Persius, it presumably refers to Seneca the philosopher . Some of the parallel passages in the works of the two are very close, and hardly admit of explanation by assuming the use of a
See also:common source . With Seneca, Persius censures the
See also:style of the
See also:day, and imitates it . Indeed in some of its worst failings, straining of expression, excess of detail, exaggeration, he outbids Seneca, whilst the obscurity, which makes his little book of not seven
See also:hundred lines so difficult to read and is in no way due to great depth of thought, compares very
See also:ill with the terse clearness of the Epistolae morales . A curious contrast to this tendency is presented by his free use of " popular " words . As of
See also:Plato, so of Persius we hear that he emulated
See also:Sophron; the authority is a
See also:late one (Lydus, De mag . 1 . 41), but we can at least recognize in the scene that opens Sat . 3. kinship with such work as
See also:Theocritus' Adoniazusae and the Mimes of
See also:Herodas . Persius's satires are composed in hexameters, except for the scazcns of the
See also:short prologue above referred to, in which he
See also:half ironically asserts that he writes to
See also:earn his
See also:bread, not because he is inspired .
The first satire censures the
See also:literary tastes of the day as a reflection of the decadence of the
See also:national morals . The theme of Seneca's 114th
See also:letter is similar . The description of the recitator and the literary twaddlers after
See also:dinner is vividly natural, but an interesting passage which cites specimens of smooth versification and the languishing style is greatly spoiled by the difficulty of appreciating the points involved and indeed of distributing the
See also:dialogue (a not uncommon crux in Persius) . The remaining satires handle in
See also:order (2) the question as to what we may justly ask of the gods (cf . Plato's second
See also:Alcibiades), (3) the importance of having a definite aim in life, (4) the
See also:necessity of self-knowledge for public men (cf . Plato's first Alcibiades), (5) the Stoic
See also:doctrine of liberty (introduced by generous allusions to Cornutus' teaching), and (6) the proper use of
See also:money . The Life tells us that the Satires were not left
See also:complete; some lines were taken (presumably by Cornutus or Bassus) from the end of the work so that it might be quasi finitus . This perhaps means that a
See also:sentence in which Persius had left a
See also:line imperfect, or a
See also:paragraph which he had not completed, had to be omitted . The same authority says that Cornutus definitely blacked out an offensive allusion to the emperor's literary taste, and that we owe to him the reading of the MSS. in Sat. i . 121, —" auriculas asini quis non [for Mida rex] habet !" Traces of lack of revision are, however, still visible; cf. e.g. v . 176 (sudden transition from ambition to superstition) and vi . 37 (where
See also:criticism of Greek doctores has nothing to do with the context) .
See also:parallels to passages of Horace and Seneca are recorded in the commentaries: in view of what the Life says about Lucan, the verbal resemblance of Sat. iii . 3 to Phars. x . 163 is interesting . Examples of bold language or
See also:metaphor: i . 25, rupto iecore exierit caprificus, 6o, linguae quantum sitiat canis; iii . 42, intus palleat, 81, silentia rodunt; v . 92, ueteres auiae de pulmone reuello . Passages like iii . 87, too sqq. show elaboration carried beyond the rules of good taste . " Popular " words:
See also:ado, ebullire, gluto, lallare, mamma, muttire, obba, palpo, stloppus .
See also:Fine lines, &c., in i . 116 sqq., ii .
6 sqq., 61 sqq., 73 sqq., in . 39 sqq . The important
See also:editions are: (t) with explanatory notes: Casaubon (
See also:Paris, 16o5, enlarged edition by Diibner,
See also:Leipzig, 1833) ; O . Jahn (with the scholia and valuable prolegomena, Leipzig, 1843) ; Coning-ton (with
See also:translation ; 3rd ed.,
See also:Oxford, 1893) ; B . L .
See also:Gildersleeve (New
See also:York, 1875) ; G . Nemethy (Buda-Pesth, 1903) ; (2) with critical notes: Jahn-Bllcheler (3rd ed., Berlin, 1893); S . G .
See also:Owen (with Juvenal, Oxford, 1902) .
See also:Translations into
See also:English by
See also:Dryden (1693) ;
See also:Conington (loc. cit.) and Hemphill (
See also:Dublin, 1901) . Criticism, &c., in Martha,
See also:Les Moralistes sous l'
See also:empire romain (5th ed., Paris, 1886) ; Nisard, Poetes latins de la decadence (Paris, 1834) ; Hirzel, Der Dialog (Leipzig, 1895); Saintsbury, History of Criticism, i . 248;
See also:Henderson, Life and Principate of the Emperor
See also:Nero (
See also:London, 1903) ; and the histories of Roman literature (especially Schanz, §§ 382 sqq.) .
A Bibliography of Persius, by M . H .
See also:Morgan (
See also:bridge, U.S.A., 1893) . (W . C .
PERSIS (mod. Fars, q.v.)
OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON
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