Persius

The Satires of Horace and Persius
  • The Satires of Horace and Persius

  • The Satires of Horace (65-8 BC), written in the troubled decade ending with the establishment of Augustus' regime, provide an amusing treatment of men's perennial enslavement to money, power, glory and sex. Epistles I, addressed to the poet's friends, deals with the problem of achieving contentment amid the complexities of urban life, while Epistles II and the Ars Poetica discuss Latin poetry - its history and social functions, and the craft required for its success. Both works have had a powerful influence on later Western literature, inspiring poets from Ben Jonson and Alexander Pope to W. H. Auden and Robert Frost. The Satires of Persius (AD 34-62) are highly idiosyncratic, containing a courageous attack on the poetry and morals of his wealthy contemporaries - even the ruling emperor, Nero.

Horace (65 BC-8 BC), or Quintus Horatius Flaccus, was a Roman lyric poet, satirist, and literary critic. He is generally considered one of the greatest lyric poets of the world. Aules Persius Flaccus was born in AD 34 in Etruria. Rich and well connected, he knew Lucan, Thrasea Paetus, and other members of the opposition to Nero's rule. His friendship with the philosopher Cornutus began when he was sixteen and remained a strong influence until his death at the age of twenty-seven. Although the satires are concerned with moral questions- a fact which endeared Persius to the Church Fathers and won him admiration in the Middle Ages and Renaissance- their main interest for us lies in their condensed, allusive, and highly metaphorical style.

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