CCANESA / Classics and Ancient History seminar: “The final Oresteia of Antiquity: Dracontius’ Orestes”
Paul Roche | The University of Sydney
Satire from the margins: the periphery in Persius’ Satires
Classics and Ancient History/CCANESA Online Seminar
The poet Persius (34-62ce) left us a slender and idiosyncratic collection: a prologue and six short hexameter poems that stake a claim upon the satirical tradition of Lucilius and especially Horace. Persius’ style is dense and obscure, and the imagery of his poetry is often mutable, associative and evasive. Language, image and poetic persona work together to create a collection in which issues of morality, philosophy, taste, diction and rhetoric often overlap. In this paper I consider the way in which the voice and the identity of the speaker in these satires are decentralised. This position on the periphery is intrinsic to Persius’ satiric persona and it is related to satire’s dynamic of mocking elevated subjects from below. I first argue that the marginal position claimed by the poet—his poetic, aesthetic and intellectual alienation from society’s mainstream—is matched by a performed social isolation. This appears initially to be a consequence of a relatively lower-ranking social status, but it is gradually revealed that the speaker is an aristocrat, albeit one with limited power in society, whose chauvinism and conservative anxieties have placed him on society’s fringes. I then argue that a recurrent suite of images suggesting temporal displacement and interiority help constitute the world of the Satires, and that these same images abstract and reflect the speaker’s marginal position.
16 September, 4:00pm
The Zoom link
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The Department of Classics and Ancient History is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).