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The Roman poet and satirist Persius (34-62 CE) was unique among his peers for lampooning literary and social conventions from a distinctly Stoic point of view. A curious amalgam of mocking wit and philosophy, his Satires are rife with violent metaphors and unpleasant imagery and show little concern for the reader's enjoyment or understanding. In Persius, Shadi Bartsch explores this Stoic framework and argues that Persius sets his own bizarre metaphors of food, digestion, and sexuality against more appealing imagery to show that the latter - and the poetry containing it - harms rather than helps its audience. Ultimately, he encourages us to abandon metaphor altogether in favor of the non-emotive abstract truths of Stoic philosophy, to live in a world where neither alluring poetry, nor rich food, nor sexual charm play a role in philosophical teaching.
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About the Author

Shadi Bartsch is the Helen A. Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor of Classics at the University of Chicago. She is the author, most recently, of The Mirror of the Self: Sexuality, Self-Knowledge, and the Gaze in the Early Roman Empire and coeditor of the Complete Works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca series, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Reviews

"You are what you read--so choose carefully, since the wrong kind of food for thought can cause serious mental indigestion. What may seem a mixture of metaphors was plain wisdom to the Stoic satirist Persius, and in this delightful and penetrating analysis of his alimentary, medicinal, and sexual metaphors, Bartsch shows how Persius sought to give his readers a healthier diet. Along the way, she surveys a wealth of classical texts on poisons, remedies, and the body generally. Her book is just what the doctor ordered."--David Konstan, New York University "Bartsch takes on the twisted ways of Persius to show how the most far-flung of figurative conceits play together as Stoic satire and hew to a central philosophical rationale. The result is a provocative and refreshingly clear appraisal of Rome's most difficult poet."--Kirk Freudenburg, Yale University Recent studies have rightly insisted that Persius s metaphors are an organic part of his message, but none has given these the sustained attention that Bartsch bestows on them, nor set them in the rich cultural and historical context that she assembles. Bartsch s study is an essential contribution to the bibliography of this poet. --William Fitzgerald, King s College London" You are what you read so choose carefully, since the wrong kind of food for thought can cause serious mental indigestion.What may seem a mixture of metaphors was plain wisdom to the Stoic satirist Persius, and in this delightful and penetrating analysis of his alimentary, medicinal, and sexual metaphors, Bartsch shows how Persius sought to give his readers a healthier diet.Along the way, she surveys a wealth of classical texts on poisons, remedies, and the body generally.Her book is just what the doctor ordered. --David Konstan, New York University" Bartsch takes on the twisted ways of Persius to show how the most far-flung of figurative conceits play together as Stoic satire and hew to a central philosophical rationale. The result is a provocative and refreshingly clear appraisal of Rome s most difficult poet. --Kirk Freudenburg, Yale University" "Recent studies have rightly insisted that Persius's metaphors are an organic part of his message, but none has given these the sustained attention that Bartsch bestows on them, nor set them in the rich cultural and historical context that she assembles. Bartsch's study is an essential contribution to the bibliography of this poet."--William Fitzgerald, King's College London "As in the best travel, the most enriching aspects of this study are the details and implications Bartsch discovers along the way. . . . I found [this book] the best thing I've read on Persius in years, and it will surely remain an essential resource for a good long time." --Dan Hooley "Bryn Mawr Classical Review " As in the best travel, the most enriching aspects of this study are the details and implications Bartsch discovers along the way. . . . I found [this book] the best thing I've read on Persius in years, and it will surely remain an essential resource for a good long time. --Dan Hooley "Bryn Mawr Classical Review ""

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