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inclined to think, does not appear. The anecdote is in perfect keeping with the perfervid Spanish temper of Lucan and Lucan's family. But this momentary burst of admiration is no indication of any genuine sympathy between the effusive and rhetorical Cordovan and the shy, philosophical Etruscan. Nominally they belonged to the same school—the Stoic; but Persius was ready to resist unto blood, Lucan's Stoicism was a mere parade.
While this anecdote leaves us in suspense as to the relations between Lucan and Persius, we have express evidence that there was no sympathy between Persius and Seneca. They met, we are informed, but the poet took little pleasure in the society of the essayist. This is not the place to attempt a characteristic of this famous writer, who, like Persius, leaves few readers indifferent. Once the idol of the moralists—who of all old birds are the most easily caught with chaff-Seneca has fallen into comparative disfavor within the last few decades; yet sometimes a vigorous champion starts up to do battle for him, such as Farrar in England, and, with more moderation, Constant Martha in France; and his cause is by no means hopeless if the advocate can keep his hearers from reading Seneca for themselves. It is impossible not to admire Seneca in
. passages; it seems very difficult to retain the admiration after reading him continuously. The glittering phrase masks a poverty of thought; the belt with its broad gold covers a hidden wound.' To Persius, the youthful Stoic, with his high purpose and his transcendental views of life, Seneca the courtier, the time-server, the adroit flatterer, must have appeared little better than a hypocrite, or, which is worse to an ardent mind, a practical negation of his own aspirations. The young convert—and Persius's philosophy was Persius's religion-in the first glow of his enthusiasm, must have been repelled by the callous
ness of the older professor of the same faith. And yet so strong was the impress of the age that Persius and Seneca are not so far asunder after all. To understand Persius we must read Seneca; and the lightning stroke of Caligula's tempestuous brain, harena sine calce, illuminates and shivers the one as well as the other.
If the family of the Annaei did not prove congenial, there were others to whom Persius might look for sympathy and instruction. Such was M. Servilius Nonianus, a man of high position, of rare eloquence, of unsullied fame. Such was Plotius Macrinus, to whom the Second Satire is addressed, itself a eulogy. Even in his own family circle there were persons whose lofty characters have made them celebrated in history. His kinswoman Arria, herself destined to become famous for her devotion to her husband, was the wife of Thrasea Paetus, and the daughter of that other Arria, whose supreme cry, NON DOLET, when she taught her husband how to meet his doom, is one of the most familiar speeches of a period when speech was bought with death. Thrasea, the husband of the younger Arria, was one of the foremost men of his time, and bore himself with a moderation which contrasts strongly with the ostentations virtue of some of the Stoic chiefs. He rebuked the vices of his time unsparingly, but steadily observed the respect due to the head of the state; and even when the decree was passed which congratulated Nero on the murder of his mother, he contented himself with retiring from the senate-house. But Thrasea's silent disapproval of one crime fired Nero to another, and his refusal to deprecate the wrath of the emperor was the cause of his ruin-if that could be called ruin which he welcomed as he poured out his blood in libation to Jupiter the Liberator.
That the familiar intercourse with such a man should
have inspired a youth of the education and the disposition of Persius with still higher resolves and still higher endeavors is not strange. That it sufficed, as some say, to penetrate Persius with the sober wisdom of maturer years, and made up to him for the lack of personal experience and artistic balance, is attributing more to association than association can accomplish.
To Thrasea's influence Jahn ascribes Persius's juvenile essays in the preparation of praetextae, or tragedies with Roman themes, and it is not unlikely that a poetical description of his travels (6ôOLTOPIKūv) referred to some little trip that he took with Thrasea. Thanks to Cornutus, this youthful production—which doubtless was nothing more than a weak imitation of Horace, or haply of Lucilius —was suppressed after the death of the author, and with it his praetexta, and a short poem in honor of the elder Arria also.
The purity of Persius's morals, and the love which be bore his mother, his sister, his aunt, stand to each other reciprocally as cause and effect; and the occasional crudity of his language is, as we have already seen, the crudity of a bookish man, who thinks that the sure way to do a thing is to overdo it. Persius was a man of handsome person, gentle bearing, attractive manners, and added to the charm of his society the interest which always gathers about those whom the gods love.
He died on his estate at the eighth milestone on the Appian Road, vitio stomachi, eight days before the kalends of December, A.U.C. 815—A.D. 62—in the twentyeighth year of his age.
Cornutus first revised the satires of his friend, and then gave them to Caesius Bassus to edit. The only important change that Cornutus made was the substitution of quis non for Mida rex (1, 121), a subject which is discussed in the Commentary. Other traces of wavering expression and duplex recensio are due to the imagination of commentators, who attribute to the young poet a logical method and an exactness of development for which the style of Persius gives them no warrant. Raro et tarde scripsit, the statement of the Life of Persius, explains much.
The poems of Persius were received with applause as soon as they appeared, and the old Vita Persii would have us believe that people scrambled for the copies as if the pages were so many Sabine women. Quintilian, in his famous inventory of Greek and Roman literature, says that Persius earned a great deal of glory, and true glory, by a single book, and here and there the great scholar does Persius homage by imitating him; and Martial holds up Persius with his one book of price, as a contrast to the empty bulk of a half-forgotten epic. But it would not be worth the while to repeat the list of the admirers of Persius in the ages of later Latinity. It suffices to say that he was the special favorite of the Latin Fathers. Augustin quotes or imitates him often, and Jerome is saturated with the phraseology of our poet. Commended to Christian teachers by the elevation of his moral tone, by the pithiness of his maxims and reflections, and the energy of his figures, he was set up on a high chair, a big school-boy, to teach other school - boys, and scarcely a voice was raised in rebellion for centuries. But since the time of the Scaligers, who were not to be kept back by any consideration for the feelings of the Fathers, there has been much unfriendly criticism of Persius; and the world owes him a debt of gratitude for provoking an animosity that has opened the way to a freer discussion of the literary merits of the authors of antiquity. To be subject all one's life through fear of literary death to the bondage of antique dullness, as well as to the thraldom
of contemporary stupidity, would have been a sad result of the revival of letters.
The first and last charge brought against Persius is his obscurity. Admitted by all, it is variously interpreted, variously excused, variously attacked. Now it is accounted for by the political necessities of the time. Now it is attributed to the perverse ingenuity of the poet, which was fostered by the perverse tendencies of an age when, as Quintilian says, Pervasit iam multos ista persuasio ut id iam demum eleganter dictum putent quod interpretandum sit. Some simply resolve the lack of clearness into the lack of artistic power; others intimate that the fault lies more in the reader than in the author, whose dramatic liveliness, which puzzles us, presented no difficulties to the critics of his own century. But the controversy is not confined to the obscurity of the satires. Persius is all debatable ground. Some admire the pithy sententiousness of the poet; others sneer at his priggish affectation of superiority. Some point to the bookish reminiscences, which bewray the mere student; others recall the example of Ben Jonson, of Molière, to show that in literature, as in life, the greatest borrowers are often the richest men, and bid us observe with what rare and vivid power he has painted every scene that he has witnessed with his own eyes. To some he is a copyist of copyists; to others his real originality asserts itself most conspicuously where the imitation seems to be the closest. Julius Scaliger calls him miserrimus auctor, Mr. Conington notes his kindred to Carlyle.
No critic has put the problem with more brutal frankness than M. Nisard, who, at the close of his flippant but suggestive chapter on Persius, asks the question, Y a-t-il profit à lire Perse? Though he makes a faint show of balancing the Ayes and Noes, it is very plain how he