Synopses & Reviews
Inspiring poets from Ben Jonson and Alexander Pope to W. H. Auden and Robert Frost, the writings of Horace and Persius have had a powerful influence on later Western literature. The Satires of Persius are highly idiosyncratic, containing a courageous attack on the poetry and morals of his wealthy contemporaries—even the ruling emperor, Nero. The Satires of Horace, written in the troubled decade ending with the establishment of Augustus’s 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.
- Features a revised introduction, translation, and notes
About the Author
Quintus Horatius Flaccus
was born in 6 B.C. at Venusia in Apulia. His father, though once a slave, had made enough money as an auctioneer to send his son to a well-known school in Rome and subsequently to university in Athens. There Horace joined Brutus’ army and served on his staff until the defeat at Philippi in 42 BC. On returning to Rome, he found that his father was dead and his property had been confiscated, but he succeeded in obtaining a secretarial post in the treasury, which gave him enough to live on. The poetry he wrote in the next few years impressed Virgil, who introduced him to the great patron Maecenas in 38 BC. This event marked the beginning of a life-long friendship. From now on Horace had no financial worries; he moved freely among the leading poets and statesmen of Rome; his work was admired by Augustus, and indeed after Virgil’s death in 19 BC he was virtually Poet Laureate. Horace died in 8 BC, only a few months after Maecenas.
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.