Recognizing Persius

Recognizing Persius

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Recognizing Persius is a passionate and in-depth exploration of the libellus--or little book--of six Latin satires left by the Roman satirical writer Persius when he died in AD 62 at the age of twenty-seven. In this comprehensive and reflectively personal book, Kenneth Reckford fleshes out the primary importance of this mysterious and idiosyncratic writer. Reckford emphasizes the dramatic power and excitement of Persius's satires--works that normally would have been recited before a reclining, feasting audience. In highlighting the satires' remarkable honesty, Reckford shows how Persius converted Roman satire into a vehicle of self-exploration and self-challenge that remains relevant to readers today. The book explores the foundations of Roman satire as a performance genre: from the dinner-party recitals of Lucilius, the founder of the genre, through Horace, to Persius's more intense and inward dramatic monologues. Reckford argues that despite satire's significant public function, Persius wrote his pieces first and mainly for himself.
Reckford also provides the context for Persius's life and work: his social responsibilities as a landowner; the interplay between his life, his Stoic philosophy, and his art; and finally, his incomplete struggle to become an honest and decent human being. Bringing the modern reader to a closer and more nuanced acquaintance with Persius's work, Recognizing Persius reinstates him to the ranks of the first-rate satirists, alongside Horace and Juvenal.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 152 x 235 x 22.86mm | 482g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 069114141X
  • 9780691141411
  • 1,988,462

Back cover copy

"With effortless execution, Reckford draws the reader gently and persuasively into the remote world of this brilliant, young Roman satirist. This is a warm, deeply thoughtful, and perceptive book."--Dan Hooley, University of Missouri

"English language books focusing on Persius are few and far between. Reckford is well-versed in ancient satire and his close analyses of particular words, lines, and passages are often compelling."--Cedric Littlewood, University of Victoria
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Table of contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ix PROLOGUE: In Search of Persius 1 CHAPTER ONE: Performing Privately 16 "Who'll read this stuff?" (Satire 1) 17 "In Different Voices" 21 Performing satire (1): Lucilius 25 Performing satire (2): Horace 32 Three Bad Performances 39 Persius's Return to the Colors 46 Appendix: The Choliambics 52 CHAPTER TWO: Seeking Integrity 56 Hypocrisy and Self-Deception (Satire 2) 57 Called to Virtue (Satire 3) 63 Where Horace Left Off 68 Division Problems 77 Autobiographical Fragments 82 Images of Dissolution 87 Recomposing a Life 91 Appendix: Epictetus, Diatribe, and Persius 96 CHAPTER THREE: Exploring Freedom 102 Shadows of Falsehood (Satire 4) 103 Modes of Disclosure (Satire 5) 108 "Every Fool a Slave" 118 Another Dissident Under Nero 124 CHAPTER FOUR: Life, Death, and Art 130 Between Volterra and Rome 131 The Land, the Sea, and the Heir (Satire 6) 136 Reading the libellus: Children and Grown-ups 144 Recognizing Persius 151 EPILOGUE: From Persius to Juvenal 161 NOTES 181 BIBLIOGRAPHY 219 GENERAL INDEX 233 INDEX LOCORUM 237
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Review quote

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010 "The book retains the informal approach of the original lectures, a shrewd choice since Reckford excels at using the public speaker's panoply to bring his subject to life; by book's end, readers will fell that they not only know Persius better but also understand more deeply his struggle, as a person and as an author, against humanity's foibles and follies."--Choice "Reckford takes his reader through a well-structured overview of the genre, which I believe will be particularly helpful to students just encountering Roman Satire. Because of the scope of this book, therefore, I would strongly recommend it as an introduction not only to Persius but also to the entire genre, for it places Lucilius, Horace, and to some extent Juvenal, in a context that is often elusive, largely because of the very nature of satire."--Patricia A. Johnston, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
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About Kenneth J. Reckford

Kenneth J. Reckford is the Kenan Professor Emeritus of Greek and Latin in the Department of Classics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His books include "Aristophanes' Old-And-New Comedy".
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