One of the four major Roman satirists (the others are Gaius Lucilius, Horace, and Juvenal), Aulus Persius Flaccus (AW-luhs PEHR-shee-uhs FLAK-uhs) was born into an aristocratic Roman family but led a life withdrawn from the political and military affairs of his day. Like many of his contemporaries, he was attracted to the study of Stoic philosophy, learning from a leading Stoic of the day, Lucius Annaeus Cornutus. He died young, leaving six satires that were coedited and published by his friend Cornutus. He was fortunate not to have lived through the failed conspiracy of Gaius Calpurnius Piso against the emperor Nero in 65 c.e., when many of Persius’s Stoic friends were exiled (including Cornutus) or perished. Three more of the greatest writers of the day, Seneca the Younger, Lucan, and Petronius, were forced to commit suicide. The absence of free political expression during much of Nero’s reign severely constrained the political content of poetry. Therefore, it is not surprising that in his poetry Persius seeks to develop a personal morality. However, he still manages to express the disturbing “truth” of his society’s literary bad taste and moral bankruptcy.