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He died of a disorder in his stomach about the thirtieth year of his age, and left behind him a large fortune; the bulk of which he bequeathed to his mother and sisters ; leaving an handsome legacy to his friend and instructor Cornutus, together with his study of books: Cornutus only accepted the books, and gave the money, which Persius had left him, to the surviving sisters of Persius.
Some have supposed, that Persius studied obscurity in bis Satires, and that to this we owe the difficulty of unravelling his meaning; that he did this, that he might with the greater safety attack and expose the vicious of his day, and particuJarly the emperor Nero, at whom some of his keenest shafts were aimed : however this may be, I have endeavoured to avail myself of the explanations which the learned have given, in order to facilitate the forming of my own judgment, which, whether coincident with theirs or not, I have freely set down in the following notes, in order that my readers may the more easily form theirs.
As to the comparisons which have been made between Horace, Persius, and Juvenal, (the former of which is so often imitated by Persius,) I would refer the reader to Mr. Dryden's Dedication to the Earl of Dorset, which is prefixed to the translation of Juvenal and Persius, by himself and others, and where this matter is very fully considered. For my own part, I think it best to allow each his particular merit, and to avoid the invidious and disagreeable task of making comparisons, where each is so excellent, and wherein prejudice and fancy too often supersede true taste and sound judgment.
However the comparative merit of Persius may be determined, his positive excellence can hardly escape the readers of his Satires, or incline them to differ from Quintilian, who says of him, Inst. Orator. lib. x. cap. 1. “ Multum et veræ gloriæ, " quamvis uno libro Persius meruit." Martial seems of this opinion, lib. iv. epig. xxviji. 1. 7, 8.
“Sæpius in libro memoratur Persius uno,
“ Quam levis in tota Marsus Amazonide." On which the Scholiast observes, by way of note, “ Gratior
“ est parvus liber Satirarum Persii, quam ingens volumen “ Marsi, quo bellum Herculis scripsit contra Amazonas.”
Nor were the Satires of Persius in small esteem, even among some of the most learned of the early Christian writers -such as Cassiodore, Lactantius, Eusebius, St. Jerom, and St. Austin. This is observed by Holyday, who concludes his preface to his translation with these remarkable words, “ Reader, be courteous to thyself, and let not the example of "an heathen condemn thee, but improve thee."
“ The design of the author was to conceal his name and quality.
-He lived in the dangerous times of Nero, and aims particularly at him in most of his Satires: for which reason, though he was of equestrian dignity, and of a plentiful fortune, he would appear, in this Prologue, but a beggarly poet, who
NEC fonte labra prolui Caballino:
Line 1, Caballine fountain.) A fountain Persius means to ridicule this potion. near Helicon, a hill in Bæotia, sacred to 2. Have dreamed, &c.] Parnassus is a the Muscs and Apollo, which the horse mountain of Phocis, in Achaia, in which Pegasus is said to have opened with his is the Castalian spring, and temple of hoof: therefore sometimes called Hip- A pollo. It was a notion, that wbosoever pocrene, from the Gr. itsos, an horse, ascended this hill, and stayed there for any and xenon, a fountain.
time, immediately became a poet. It T'he poet in derision calls it caballinus, hath two tops, Cyrrha and Nisa, or, as from caballus, which is a name for a sorry others, Helicon and Cytheron, the forhorse, a jade, a packhorse, and the mer sacred to Apollo and the Muses, the like.
latter to Bacchus. Hence our poet says The poets feigned, that drinking of - bicipiti Parnasso. this sacred fountain inspired, as it were, He is supposed to allude to the poet poetic fancy, imagination, and abilities. Ennius, who is said to have dreamed Thus Vind. Æn. vii. 641; and Æn. x. that he was on mount Parnassus, and 163.
that the soul of Homer entered into Pandite nunc Heliconu, Dca, cantusque him. movete.
3. Suddenly.) i. c. All on a sudden