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Aulus Persius Flaccus was an ancient Roman satirist who did not hold back when it came to criticizing philosophers, rulers and even the poor. Perhaps it was due to the fact that his father and stepfather died when he was young that led him to develop a cynical view towards people, but his satires were sometimes edited for its unflinching criticism of famous individuals. Some of the best quotes from Persius are still appreciated today by modern readers for their honesty and rancor. For example, there is this line:
“Dare pondus idonea fumo” (1)
and this one: “Negatas artifex sequi voces” (2)
I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of this quote:
“Nam quamvis prope to, quamvis temone sub uno Verentem sese, frustra sectabere cantum Cum rota posterior curras et in axe secundo” (3)
But not all Persius’s quotes are cruel. There are some encouraging ones like this one:
“vincit qui patitur” (4)
Persius was first and foremost a student of observation:
“Magister artis ingeniique largitor venter” (5)
and this one is very true of people:
“Velle suuum cuique est, nec voto vivitur uno” (6)
Persius was ahead of his time:
(1) “Fit to give weight to smoke.” It is used as an insult.
(2) “He attempts to use language which he does not know”. He used this line to refer to a certain contemporary of his.
(3) “Like the hind wheels of the chariot, you are near but will never reach the fore wheels”. It means that you may be close to achieving your goals, but destiny will prevent you from going any further. This quote was used to those who were trying to climb the social ladder.
(4) “he conquers who endures”. Means that perseverance will lead to victory.
(5) “The belly is the teacher of art and the bestower of genius”. The ‘belly’ refers to necessity, so it’s like saying that necessity causes artists/writers to produce wonderful pieces of art/poetry.
(6) “Each man has his own desires; all do not possess the same inclinations”. Means that everyone has his or her own desires that differ from each other.