Oronzo Pecere - The protohistory of the texts of Persius and Juvenal
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The protohistory of the texts of Persius and Juvenal
1. The Satires of Juvenal were ignored by the contemporanies of the poet, unlike those of Persius, which had an immediate echo in the culture of their time; Martial is the only one to refer to Juvenal, in three epigrams, but without mentioning his work1. With the exception of the probable echo of the famous phrase panem et circenses (Sat. 10.81) in Fronto2, this silence lasts about until the IV century, when the rediscovery of the poets of the first centuries of the empire becomes a connotative element of the new literary taste. In this revival the quotes, the allusions and the reminiscences of Juvenal’s Satires became more and more. The poisonous controversy of Ammianus against the readers of Juvenal3 is aimed to condemn not just an ephemeral fashion, since between the half of the IV and the half of the VI century the fame of the poet remained constant: a further proof of an interest which was transversely common to pagan and Christian scholars and writers belonging to different environments, and different geo-historical contexts. The reasons of the wide success of the poet are manifold. The traditionalist aristocracy appreciated the recall of the ancient Roman values which underlined the stinging indignatio and the sententious character of his satires. But Juvenal’s luck was above all linked both to the strong moral sense, with which he condemned the individual immorality, and to the...
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