John Conington (lecture date 1855)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Conington, John. “Lecture on the Life and Writings of Persius.” In The Satires of A. Persius Flaccus, translated by John Conington, pp. xv-xxxv. Oxford, Eng.: Clarendon Press, 1893.

[In the following lecture, originally delivered at Oxford University in 1855, Conington discusses Persius's life, influences, writings, and philosophy.]

It is my intention for the present to deliver general lectures from time to time on the characteristics of some of the authors whom I may select as subjects for my terminal courses. To those who propose to attend my classes they will serve as prolegomena, grouping together various matters which will meet us afterwards as they...

(The entire section is 9681 words.)

Frank Frost Abbott (essay date 1909)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Abbott, Frank Frost. “A Roman Puritan.” In Society and Politics in Ancient Rome: Essays and Sketches, pp. 131-44. New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1963.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1909, Abbott finds similarities between the ideas of Persius and those inherent in New England Puritanism.]

One ventures with some diffidence upon the task of discussing the work of an author like the Roman poet Persius, whose writings are not widely known and are not highly esteemed by many who know them. But the obscurity in which Persius languishes is, it seems to me, undeserved; for his poetry has an intrinsic value; he speaks for a class of men who have made...

(The entire section is 2763 words.)

Jonathan Tate (essay date 1930)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Tate, Jonathan. “The Life and Writings of Persius.” In The Satires of A. Persius Flaccus, translated by Jonathan Tate, pp. 4-12. Oxford, Eng.: Basil Blackwell, 1930.

[In the following excerpt, Tate contends that Persius's purpose in writing was to explain Stoic doctrine and that he consciously created a style that eschews pleasure.]

There is little need for me to repeat in detail the oft-repeated story of Persius' life; and the need is less because the story has of late been admirably re-told by Professor Wight Duff (Literary History of Rome in the Silver Age) whose account of Persius' life and writings could, I think, be improved in only two...

(The entire section is 2234 words.)

William S. Anderson (essay date 1961)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Anderson, William S. Introduction to The Satires of Persius, translated by W. S. Merwin, pp. 7-50. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961.

[In the following essay, Anderson notes that Persius rejected verbiage that appealed to the senses rather than to the mind, that he never wasted a word, and that his style was harsh, shocking, and effective.]

The poet who dies young after a brief life of dedication to his craft has always been a congenial figure to our imaginations, for we naturally tend to conjecture what might have become of him had he survived to the age of a Sophocles or his modern counterpart, Robert Frost. Aules Persius Flaccus died at 28, long...

(The entire section is 12692 words.)

R. G. M. Nisbet (essay date 1963)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Nisbet, R. G. M. “Persius.” In Critical Essays on Roman Literature, edited by J. P. Sullivan, pp. 39-71. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963.

[In the following essay, Nisbet provides an overview of Persius's writings.]

Aules Persius died nineteen hundred years ago, on 24 November, a.d. 62: birthplace Volterra (Tuscany), rank equestrian, cause of death ‘stomachi vitium’, age 27. He left behind him six satires,1 less than 700 lines in all, which were published by his friends and won immediate acclaim. Lucan testified that they were true poems, and whatever his faults, Lucan was a true poet. A less gifted but longer-lived contemporary,...

(The entire section is 11771 words.)

Ulrich Knoche (essay date 1975)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Knoche, Ulrich. “Aules Persius Flaccus.” In Roman Satire, translated by Edwin S. Ramage, pp. 127-39. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975.

[In the following essay, Knoche discusses Persius's life, surveys his satires, and analyzes his style.]

Aules Persius Flaccus was born on December 4, 34 after Christ at Volaterrae (modern Volterra) in the northwest part of Etruria. He was the son of respected and very wealthy parents of equestrian rank. The family, which clearly made much of the Etruscan tradition in its history, was related directly and by marriage to the Roman aristocracy. When he was about six years old, Persius lost his father, and soon after...

(The entire section is 5761 words.)

Michael Coffey (essay date 1976)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Coffey, Michael. “Persius.” In Roman Satire, pp. 98-118. London: Methuen and Co, 1976.

[In the following essay, Coffey argues that Persius did not include many autobiographical elements in his satires and that he had no interest in criticizing his contemporaries by name for their shortcomings.]

Horace the satirist had no known successor until the time of Nero, the better part of a century later.1 The consolidation of imperial dictatorship by Augustus and his successors ended political liberty and also freedom of speech. Augustus ignored lampoons against himself but had vituperative attacks on other contemporaries burned in public.2...

(The entire section is 12788 words.)

J. R. Jenkinson (essay date 1980)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Jenkinson, J. R. Introduction to The Satires, translated by J. R. Jenkinson, pp. 1-8. Wiltshire, Eng.: Aris & Phillips, 1980.

[In the following excerpt, Jenkinson explains that Persius was shaped by Stoicism and that his satires are imbued with moral concerns and “continual surprise.”]

The full name of the author whose work is translated below was Aules1 Persius Flaccus. He has left us (not counting a brief introductory piece) six Latin poems of moderate length in the hexameter metre. Their title, Saturae, is usually translated Satires which, as we shall see, is technically correct. But, influenced as we are by modern...

(The entire section is 5615 words.)

Mark Morford (essay date 1984)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Morford, Mark. “The Style of Persius.” In Persius, pp. 73-96. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1984.

[In the following excerpt, Morford praises Persius's style for its memorable metaphors, wide vocabulary, and colorful language.]


Style is inseparable from moral values. This is the theme of Persius's first satire, and it is the foundation of the fifth. For the satirist how he expresses himself is integral with what he says. The foregoing survey of the six satires has therefore involved many observations on Persius's style in passing; we may now turn our attention to it both for its own sake and as an instrument for...

(The entire section is 10314 words.)