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a few verses for the wife of Thrasea, on her mother Arria, who had killed herself before her husband'. All these Cornutus advised his mother to destroy. When his book was published men began forthwith to admire and to seize upon ito. [He died of a disease of the stomach in the thirtieth
year of his age'. But & afterwards, when he bad left his school and teachers, having read the tenth book of Lucilius, he conceived a great desire to write Satires. The beginning of that book be imitated', first intending to abuse himself', and afterwards every body, which he did with such invectives against the modern poets and orators, that he even attacked Nero, the reigning emperor. The verse he wrote against Nero was as follows:
· Auriculas Asini Mida rex habet,'
but it was corrected by Cornutus in the following way:
• Auriculas Asini quis non habet ?'
lest Nero should think it was said against himself.”]
Persius, then, as he has always been called in modern times rather than by his cognomen, Flaccus, by which his contemporaries knew bim, was of equestrian rank, and was born at Volaterrae (Volterra), in Etruria, on the fourth of December, A.D. 34, the twenty-first year of Tiberius. His father Flaccus died when he was six years old, and he remained under the care of his mother Fulvia Sisennia at hiş native place, where he went to school till he was twelve years old’. Like Horace, he then was taken to Rome and sent to a grammar and a rhetoric school, the former being under the management of one of the most celebrated teachers of the day, Remmius Palaemon, the other of Virginius Flavus, a rhetorician of eminence, who was afterwards exiled by Nero . He took the 'toga virilis ''at sixteen, the usual age, and according to custom left school and went, as we should call it, to a private tutor, L. Annaeus Cornutus, a philosopher of the Stoic school, to which most
3 i.e. before her husband killed himself. See below.'
? This contradicts the other statement, that he died A.D. 62, that is, near the end of bis twenty-eighth year. This clause is not from the original, but added by the compiler in ignorance.
8 What follows is out of order, and probably made up by the compiler. 9 See note on S. i. 1.
| The Scholiast on v. 1 says, “semetipsum redarguit, quod ipse reliquit carmina, quae vulgus lecturum non sit, quoniam non sunt vulgaria, et quod minime conveniant robusto ingenio et libidini.”
? The beginning of A.D. 47, 7th of Claudius.
men of thought at that time belonged. To Cornutus he became much attached, and the friendship continued to the end of his life. His obligations to this excellent man he feelingly acknowledges in the fifth Satire. While he was at school he appears to have written a comedy ; also a poem, probably of a humorous cast, which he called 'Očoctopina, Wayside Verses, or The Traveller, or whatever it may have been, and some verses on the death of his kinswoman Arria. She was the wife of Caecina Paetus, who for treason was put to death by Claudius. The allusion in the life is to her conduct on this occasion. Paetus, was required to be his own executioner. His wife, who loved him devotedly and had declared she would die with him, took a dagger, stabbed herself, drew it out, and handed it to her husband, and said, “Paetus, it is not painfuls.” This happened A.D. 42, before Persius was eight years old. These early productions bis mother kept till her death, and then, by the judicious advice of Cornutus, destroyed them.
How soon after his father's death his mother married again, it is impossible to say. But that she remained with her two children, Aulus and his sister, at Volaterrae, till the former was old enough to go to Rome, and that she continued to superintend his education till he went to Cornutus, may be assumed. The Scholiast, on S. vi. 6, says that after the death of her first husband she married in Liguria, where Persius was staying when that Satire was written. It is more likely that she retired to this part of the country, to a house left her by her second husband, after his death, leaving her son to pursue his studies under the guidance and roof of Cornutus 6.
At this time he formed an intimate acquaintance with that. Caesius Bassus to whom the last Satire is addressed, and with Calpurnius Sura, of whom however we know nothing more than the Grammarian tells us, that he died young, and that Persius survived him.
The Grammarian says he reverenced as a father Servilius Nonianus,
s See Pliny, Epp. iii. 16. Martial has an epigram on this event:
“Casta suo gladium cum traderet Arria Paeto,
Quem de visceribus traxerat ipsa suis,
fides vulnus quod feci non dolet,' inquit,
Sed quod tu facies hoc mihi, Paete, dolet.'" 6 From Persius' way of speaking of Lunae Portus it has been supposed by some that he was born there. But independently of the express testimony of the Grammarian, there is presumptive evidence in the name of Sisennia, which is Etrurian, and in Arria his kinswoman having married Caecina, whose family were natives of Volaterrae, to confirm the statement that Persius was born there. There is of course no weight to be attached to the tradition which is mentioned only, as far as I know, in Bayle's notice of Persius in his Dictionary, that a modern family of Volterra (the Falconcini) are derived from Persius' father, who had but one son, and he died unmarried. From the same source I learn that a house was shown a century ago at Volterra as that of Persius.
who was probably a friend of his own father's. His praenomen was Marcus. He was consul the year after Persius was born, and died two years before him. He was distinguished as a public speaker and as an historian, and likewise for the purity of his life, as Tacitus says?. The Scholiast says that Persius' honest friend, Macrinus (Plotius, the Scholiast calls him), to whom the second Satire is addressed, lived with Servilius, and so perhaps the intimacy, between these friends began.
Among his fellow-pupils was M. Annaeus Lucanus, author of the Pharsalia, a young man of great abilities, whose career, like that of Persius, was short. He was about the same age as Persius when they were studying together, and survived him not more than three years. He was put to death for joining the conspiracy of Piso against Nero, A.D. 658. Jalın takes pains to show that there could be no great sympathy between the impetuous Spaniard and the quiet modest Persius, but very opposite characters are drawn into intimacy by circumstances and by particular points of mutual attraction. Lucanus praised the poetry of Persius with every appearance of sincerity, and that would be a virtue in his or any author's
eyes. It was, no doubt, through Cornutus or Lucanus that Persius became acquainted with another of the Annaei, M. Seneca, uncle of Lucanus. This acquaintance did not begin so soon as the others, and Persius was old enough to form a deliberate judgment of Seneca's character, and according to the Grammarian it was not favourable to him. That Seneca's connexion with Nero led him into acts at variance with his professed principles, is certain, and there is no reason to suppose that Persius entertained a warın affection for a man forty years older than himself, associated, with or without his own free will, with the crime of a matricide, and whose enormous wealth was chiefly accumulated through the favour of a tyrant whom Persius despised and abhorred. But the remark of the Grammarian seems to be that of one who had bimself adopted the exaggerated opinion against Seneca, which the jealousy of his rivals and enemies gave rise to during his life
Of the young men whom the Grammarian describes in such high terms, Claudius Agathemerus and Petronius Aristocrates, nothing is known. The former is supposed to be the subject, with his wife Myrtale, of an epitaph of four lines on a 'cippus' preserved among the Arundel
1 Ann. xiv. 19.
8 See note on Juv. vii. 79. The age usually assigned to Lucanus at his death, twentysix, can hardly be right. The Grammarian says he was of the same age as Persius, and he could not have been much younger, or less than thirty, in A.D. 65.
9 The character of the younger Seneca, as a man and a writer, is temperately reviewed in Mr. Long's notice of him in the Dictionary of Biography.
marbles, with the heads of an elderly man and woman'. Both these persons were Greeks, connected, as is clear from the gentilician names they bore, with Roman families of distinction.
Paetus Thrasea is mentioned by Juvenal, with his son-in-law, Helvidius Priscus (S. v. 36). His character was that of an honest man in times of the worst corruption, and his affection for Persius, which the Grammarian says lasted nearly ten years, and therefore only ended with his death (for Thrasea survived him four years), was a strong testimony to the poet's goodness. It is said they sometimes travelled together, but we are not told where they travelled. There is no trace in the writings of Persius of his having been out of Italy. Thrasea was put to death with scarcely the shadow of a pretext, A.D. 66. The Senate condemned him under compulsion.
Arria, the wife of Thrasea, was the daughter of Arria mentioned above, and it was for her Persius wrote the lines on her mother's death
whic were destroyed with his other juvenile productions. The relationship between Arria and Persius is not known.
His father, it appears, left a sister, and it would seem that she lived with her sister-in-law after Flaccus' death. According to the amended text of the life Persius had an only sister. It does not appear whether his mother had any family by her second marriage. His love for these ladies and his dutiful attention to them are represented as most exemplary, and to their society no doubt, as Jahn says, he owed much of that maidenly modesty and gentleness of character which the Grammarian attributes to him. That he was carefully watched and kept from temptation in boyhood may be inferred from what he says to Cornutus, 8. v. 32 sqq., and the same care was shown in the selection of that good man for his teacher. His father when he died left him under a 'tutor,' whose name is not mentioned, but who there is every reason to suppose discharged his trust faithfully, for Persius died rich, leaving his mother and sister between them two millions of sesterces? in ready money.
His death took place on the 24th November, A.D. 62, at his own country house, eight miles from Rome, on the Appian road, which was so lined with the villas of wealthy Romans that Bovillae, four miles farther on, was sometimes called a suburb. (See note on S. vi. 52.) He wanted ten days to complete his twenty-eighth year. A paragraph in the memoir, which is from a later hand than the first part, says he died of a disease of the stomach. This is probably an invention, and
1 Κλαύδιος μητηρ Αγαθήμερος ενθάδε κείμαι,
Παντoίης δεδαώς κραιπνον άκεσμα νόσου. .
Μνήμα μετ' ευσεβέων δ' έσμεν εν Ηλυσίω. 2 About £16,000.
there is no other evidence of the cause of his death. From the company he kept, his political feelings must have been well known, and had he lived longer he might have shared the fate of his most intimate friends, of whom Thrasea, Seneca, Lucanus, were put to death, and Cornutus was banished.
He left behind him, besides the productions of his early years above referred to, no more than the six Satires in this book', the last of which, as appears plain to me from the ending, as well as from the obvious meaning of the Grammarian's words, he must have left unfinished. These he probably had communicated only to his intimate friends during his life ; but after his death, Cornutus, whom he probably left his executor, having slightly revised the Satires, gave them to Caesius Bassus, at his (Bassus') request, to edit. Attempts have been made to trace the corrections of Cornutus, one of those tasks that certain understandings delight in. The famous line noticed by the Grammarian (S. i. 121) may very well have been written by Persius, as he says; and though his editor could not have published it without bringing disgrace and perhaps destruction on himself, and the alteration may therefore be excused, the verse cannot be said to have been mended by the substitution of the words that now form part of the text. When the volume was published it immediately attracted attention, and was much read and admired. Since Horace no one of any ability had put forth writings of this kind, and in these Satires there was found much to remind the public of their favourite poet, combined with a great deal of originality and genius. Persius' intimate acquaintance with Horace's poems appears in a great number of passages, most of which show that unconscious imitation which is the surest sign of the minute study of an author. Casaubon has collected a large number of parallel passages from the two authors, some of which may perhaps be a little strained.
Persius is said by bis biographer to have been slow in composition. This is very likely. His verse does not flow in a rapid and muddy stream like that of Lucilius, as Horace describes him (S. i. 4), but as he says himself " caedit pluteum et demorsos sapit ungues” (s. i. 106). He bas evidently taken Horace's advice (S. i. 10. 69 sqq.) too literally, and corrected himself till his language bas become short and the ideas condensed, to a degree that makes the sense in some places obscure. Modern readers have found great fault with the poet on this account. But I think the obscurity has been exaggerated, and that, except a few passages, the Satires are as free from difficulty as most of Juvenal's *.
3 See note 5.
* Jul. Scaliger thought Persi wrote obscurely on purpose that fools might admire him. He is very severe on Persius. (See Scal. Poet. vi. c. 6, iii. c. 97.)