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THE design of the author was to conceal his name and
quality. He lived in the dangerous times of the tyrant Nero; and aims particularly at him in noft of his fatireś. For which reason, though he was a Roman knight, and of a plentiful fortune, he would appear in this prologue but a beggarly poet, who writes for bread. After this, he breaks into the business of the first satire; which is chiefly to decry the poetry then in fashion, and the impudence of those who were endeavouring to pass their stuff upon the world.
S A TIRE.
NEVER did on cleft Parnassus dream,
Nor taste the facred Heliconian stream;
ARGUMENT OF THE FIRST SATIRE.
I NEED not repeat, that the chief aim of the au
thor is against bad poets in this fatire. But I must add, that he includes also bad orators, who began at that time (as Petronius in the beginning of his book tells us) to enervate manly eloquence, by tropes and figures, ill-placed and worse applied. Amongit the poets, Persius covertly strikes at Nero; some of whose verses he recites with scorn and indignation. He also takes notice of the noblemen and their abominable poetry, who, in the luxury of their fortunes, set up for wits and judges. The fatire is in dialogue, betwixt the author and his friend or monitor; who disuades him from this dangerous attempt of exposing great men. But Persius, who is of a free spirit, and has not forgotten that Rome was once a commonwealth, breaks through all those difficulties, and boldly arraigns the false judgment of the age in which he lives. The reader may ob.' serve that our poet was a stoick philosopher; and that all his moral fentences, both here and in all the rest of his fatires, are drawn from the dogmas of that fect.