Persius characterizes his own verse metaphorically as a medicinal counter to the excesses of other poets. As such, he provides an alternative to Plato’s diagnosis of philosophy as medical, and rhetoric as culinary; his poetry, like philosophy, is itself curative, a substance that can heal its readers. It is in fact like raw beets: healthy, if not that appetizing. He then turns to the signs that betray sick readers and poets in the first place: too much bile in the system is a sign of poetic insanity, and hellebore is the treatment needed to cure this insanity. Unlike Horace’s “mad poet” at the end of the Ars Poetic, Persius himself is an author who is good for people to hear.
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