Persius : a study in food, philosophy, and the figural by Shadi Bartsch

By Shadi Bartsch

The Roman poet and satirist Persius (34–62 CE) was once special between his friends for lampooning literary and social conventions from a quite Stoic standpoint. A curious amalgam of mocking wit and philosophy, his Satires are rife with violent metaphors and ugly imagery and exhibit little situation for the reader’s entertainment or understanding.

In Persius, Shadi Bartsch explores this Stoic framework and argues that Persius units his personal weird and wonderful metaphors of meals, digestion, and sexuality opposed to extra attractive imagery to teach that the latter—and the poetry containing  it—harms instead of is helping its viewers. eventually, he encourages us to desert metaphor altogether in want of the non-emotive summary truths of Stoic philosophy, to reside in a global the place neither attractive poetry, nor wealthy meals, nor sexual appeal play a task in philosophical teaching.

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Cannibalism, dismemberment, indigestion: these unattractive elements of the Thyestes story, perversely connected to a metapoetic theme made possible by the old metaphor of the text as body and mediated through glancing hints in Horace, are the topics that Persius will dwell upon in his own treatment of the poetic text. But he will use them specifically as a reflection on contemporary literary culture, in which well-off but tasteless poets stuff their audiences with both banquets and bad poetry, and in which the ethical and philosophical effect of the latter must run in parallel to the physical cruditas caused by the former.

35– 64. On the relationship of the alimentary and the poetic in this ode, see Steiner (2002). As she remarks, “Quite literally ‘standing off’ from the charge of gastrimargon at line 52, Pindar reminds his audience that such a characterization has no place in his verbal register” (302). 43. The Greek verb καταπέψαι is surely no accident in this context. For credibility as an issue in cannibal tales, cf. Juv. Sat. 14– 26, where the satiric persona scoffs at Ulysses’ tale of the cannibal Cyclops and then goes on to narrate his own tale of cannibalism.

Concoquamus illa; alioqui in memoriam ibunt, non in ingenium. We too ought to imitate these bees, and put in order whatever we have collected from our varied reading (such things are better preserved if kept separate); then, by applying the care and faculty of our native intelligence, we should blend those various libations into a single flavor such that, even if its source is clear, nonetheless it is something other than its source.

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