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asserts that doctrine of the Stoics, that « a wise man only is free ;"
and that a slavery to vice is the most miserable of all. The Satire begins in the form of a dialogue between Persius and Core
Persius. T HIS is a custom with poets, to ask for themselves
an hundred voices, And to wish for an hundred mouths, and an hundred tongues for
their verses : Whether a fable be proposed to be bawled out by the sad tragedian ; Or the wounds of a Parthian drawing the sword from his groin. CORNUTUS. Wherefore these things? or how great pieces of robust verse.
5 Dost thou thrust in, that it should be meet to strive with an hundred
throats ? Let those who are about to speak something great, gathes clouds in
Helicon, If to any either the pot of Progne, or if to any that of Thyestes.
4. Or the wounds of a Parthian, &c.] Or write an epic poem on the wars of the Romans with the Parthians, in which the latter were overcome.
Aut labentis equo describere vulnera Parthi. Hor. sat. i. lib. i. 1. 15. 5. CORNUTUS. Wherefore these things ] Quorsum-to what end, purpose, or intent, do you mention these things, as if you were wishing them for yourself? "
How great pieces, &c.] Metaph. from a person who puts large lumps or pieces of meat into his mouth, big enough to require a num. ber of throats to swallow them.
q. d. What great and huge heroics art thou setting about, which thou canst think equal to such a wish, in order to enable thee to do them justice?
7. Gather clouds in Helicon.] Let them go to mount Helicon, (see ante, the Prologue, l. 1, note,) and there gather up the mists which hang over the sacred top, and which teem, no doubt, with poetical rapture. 8. The pot of Progne, &c.] i. e. If any shall have his imagina
Fervebit, sæpe insulso cænanda Glyconi..
tion warmed with the feasts of Progne and Thyestes, so as to write upon them.
Progne was the wife of Tereus, king of Thrace: Tereus fell in love with Philomela, sister to Progne, ravished her, and cut out her tongue. In revenge Progne killed Itys, her own son by Tereus, and served him up at a feast to be eaten by his father.
8. Thyestes.] Atreus, king of Mycenæ, banished his brother Thyestes, for defiling his wife Ærope : afterwards, recalling him, invited krim to' a banquet, ordered the children he had by her to be dressed and set before him on a table.
9. Often to be supped on by foolish Glycon.] He was some wretched tragedian of those times, who acted the parts of Tereus and Thyestes, and, accordingly, represented both of them as eating their chil.
10. Thou neither, while the mass, &c.] Metaph. from smiths heating iron in furnaces, where the fire is kept up to a great heat by the blowing with bellows, in order to render the iron ductile, and easily formed into what shape they please.
q.d. You, says Cornutus, are not forging in your brain hard and difficult subjects, and blowing up your imagination, to form them into sublime poems. See Hor. lib. i. sat. iv. l. 19-21.
11. Nor hoarse, &c.] Nor do you foolishly prate, like the hoarse croaking of a crow, with an inward kind of murmur to yourself, as if you were muttering something you think very grand and noble. See sat. iii. I. 81, and note.
13. Tumid cheeks, &c.] Scloppus is a sound made with puffing the cheeks, and then forcing the air out suddenly by striking them together with the hands.
q. d. Nor do you, when you repeat your verses, appear as if you were making a noise like that of cheeks puffed up alınost to bursting, and then suddenly stricken to rether, like the swelling and bombast method of elocution used by the fustian poets of our day.
Cornutus praises Persius in a threefold view, 1st. As not heating his inagination with high and difficult subjects. 2ndly. As not affecting to be meditating and murmuring within himself, as if he would be thought to be producing some great performance. 3rdly. As in the repetition of his verses avoiding all bombastic utterance.
14. Words of the gown.] Toga is often used to signify peaceCedant arma toga. Cic.--for, in time of peace, the Romans wore only the toga, or gown ; in, sime of war, the toga was thrown aside. for the sagum, or soldier's cloak.
Shall be hot, often to be supped on by foolish Glycon.
10 Pressest the wind with breathing bellows; nor hoarse, with close mur
mur, Foolishly croakest I know not what weighty matter with thyself; Nor intendest to break thy tumid cheeks with a puff. You follow the words of the gown, cunning in sharp composition, Smooth with moderate language, to lash vicious manners Skilled, and to mark a crime with ingenuous sport.
Cornutus here means to say, that Persius did not write of wars and bloodshed, but con&ined himself to subjects of common life, such as passed daily among the people, and made use of plain words suited to his matter.
14. Cunning in sharp composition.] Acute and ingenious in a neat composition of verse. Metaph. from those who work in marble, who so exactly join their pieces together, and polish them so neatly, that the joints can't be perceived. See sat. i. I. 64, note.
15. Smooth. with moderate language.] Teres signifies smooth, even ; also accurate, exact. Modico ore--with a moderate, modest language, or style of writing, neither rising above, por sinking below the subject, nor flying out into that extravagance of expression, so much then in vogue. See sat. i. 1. 98--102.
- To lash.] Radere, lit. signifies to scratch, or scrape up, or rub against ; here, by meton. to lash or chastise. When a satirist does this effectually, the guilty turn pale at his reproof: for paleness is the effect of fear; and fear, of conscious guilt. Hence Hor. epist, is lib, i. . 60, 1,
--Hic murus aheneus esto,
Vicious manners.] Pallentes mores--lit. manners turning pale -the effect for the cause. Meton. See the last note.
16. Mark a crime with ingenuous sport.] Defigere-metaph. from fixing a dagger, or critical mark, against any word or sentence, either to be corrected as faulty, or struck out as superfluous. This the Greeks called xertsiy, sustiv, compungere, confodere, or the like.
So Persius is said to stigmatize, or mark down, a crime with inge. nuous sport--.e. with well-bred raillery, in order to its correction : to fix a mark against it.
Qu.-If this be not going rather too far with regard to Persius, who seems not much inclined to politeness, with respect to those whom he satirizes, but rather treats them with severity and roughness? · Horace indeed deserved such an account to be given of him, Comp. sat. i. 1. 116-18.
John Hanvil, a monk of St. Alban's, about the year 1190, thus writes on the different merits of Horace and Persius :
Persius in pelago Flacci decurrit, et audet
Hinc trahe quæ dicas : mensasque relinque Mycenis
Pers. Non equidem hoc studeo, bullatis ut mihi nugis
Cum primum pavido custos mihi purpura cessit, i
17. Hence draw, &c.] From hence, i. e. from the vices of mankind, select the subjects of your writings.
- Leave the tables, &c] Leave the tragical banquet of Thyestes at Mycenæ for others to write on--trouble not yourself about such subjects.
18. With the head and feet.] Atreus reserved the heads, feet, and hands of the children ; which after supper he shewed to his brother Thyestes, that he might know whose Aesh he had been feasting upon,
- Know plebeian dinners.] Acquaint yourself only with the enormities that pass in common life--nôris-quasi, fac noscas-let these be your food for satire.
19. I do not indeed desire this.] Persius here answers his preceptor Cornutus, and tells him, that he does not want an hundred tongues and voices, in order to be writing vain and highflown poems; but that he might duly express Cornutus's worth, and his sense of it.
Studeo signifies, literally, to study, but also to apply the mind to, to care for a thing, to mind, to desire it.
--- Empty trifles.] Bullatis, (from bulla, a bubble of water) nugis--by met. swelling lines, lofty words, without sense, empty expressions. Ainsw.
20. Fit to give weight to smoke.] i. e. Fit for nothing else but to give an air of consequence and importance to trifles, which, in reality, have no more substance in them than smoke.Nugis addere pondus. Hor. Epist. lib. i. epist. xix. 1. 42.
21. Secret we speak.] You and I, Cornutus, are not now speaking to the multitude, but to each other in private, and therefore I will disclose the sentiments of my heart.
- The Muse exhorting. ] My Muse prompting and leading me to an ample disclosure of my thoughts, and to reveal how great à share you have in my affections--to do this, is a pleasure to myself.
25. What may sound solid. 7 Try and examine me, knock at my breast ; if you wish to know whether I am sincere or not, hear how that sounds.Metaphor, froin striking earthen vessels with the knuckle,
Hence draw what you may say: and leave the tables at Mycena,
Pers. I do not indeed desire this, that with empty trides my
20 Secret we speak : to you now, the Muse exhorting, I give my heart to be searched, and how great a part Of my soul, Cornutus, is yours, to you, my gentle friend, It pleases me to have shewn ; knock, careful to discern What may sound solid, and the coverings of a painted tongue. 25 For these things I would dare to require an hundred voices, That, how much I have fixed you in my inmost breast, I may draw forth with pure voice ; and all this, words may unseal, Which lies hid, not to be told, in my secret inwards. When first to fearful me the guardian purple yielded,
in order to try, by the sound, whether they were solid or cracked. See sat. ii. 1. 21, 2, and note.
25. The coverings, &c.] Tectorium--the plaster, parget, or rough. cast of a wall, which conceals it ; hence dissimulation, Hattery, which cover the real sentiments of the heart. See Matt. xxiii. 27.
- Painted tongue.] Pictæ linguæmi. é. a tongue adorned and garnished with dissimulation--varnished over with falsehood.
26. For these things.] 1. e. Properly to disclose my friendship and gratitude to you, by drawing forth and uttering what I feel for you, whom I have fixed within the most intimate recesses of my breast. See Ainsw. Sinuosus, No. 4. This sense of the word seems meta. phorical, and to be taken from what hath many turnings and windings, and so difficult to find or trace out.
* 28. With pure voice.] With the utmost sincerity, pure from all guile.
-- Words may unseal.) Resigno is to open what is sealed, to unseal : hence, met. to discover and declare.
29. Not to be told.] Not fully to be expressed.
- In my secret inwards.] In the secret recesses of my heart and mind. Comp. sat. i. l. 47.
30. The guardian purple.] The habit worn by younger noblemen was edged about with a border of purple ; an ornament whch had the repute of being sacred, and was therefore assigned to children as a sort of preservative. Hence Persius calls it custos purpura.
--- Fearful.] Which protected me when a child, and when I was under the fear and awe of a severe master. Pavidum tyronem, Juv. xvi. I. 3.
---- Yielded.] Resigned its charge, and gave place to the toga virilis, or manly gown. About the age of sixteen or seventeen they laid aside the prætexta, and put on the toga virilis, and were ranked with inen.