JUVENAL'S SATIRES. The 16 satires of the Roman poet Juvenal (about 55 to 135 A.D.) were the product of his maturer life. None of them was with certainty composed before the year 100 A.D. For the most part, they are poems of moderate length, seldom ex ceeding 300 lines. Several are much briefer.
The Satires deal with the social defects of the times, and cover a fairly extensive range of topics. The first satire gives the poet's ex cuse for writing. Everyone else is composing. Why should not he 1 Moreover, whoever con templates the social degeneracy of the day must naturally feel impelled to write in arraignment of existing conditions and tendencies. "In dignation forces composition." The second satire deals with a phase of sexual perversion more characteristic of antiquity, probably, than of modern times. In the third, Juvenal de plores the fact that Rome is no longer an en durable place of residence for an honest man. Only he who will lie, cheat, steal, murder, can win advancement in the Rome of Juvenal's day. Foreigners,— especially Syrians and Greeks have invaded the capital in such numbers that it is no longer Roman but Greek (non possum Terre, Quirites, Grmcam urbem). Houses are so poorly constructed that they often fall in ruins. Rent and provisions are high. Conflagrations are common. The noise of traffic has become unbearable; while theft and assault are the order of the day. The fourth satire touches upon the degeneracy •of the Senate. In the reign of Domitian, this body had so deteriorated in dignity, that Juvenal represents senators as sembling in a council of state to discuss the fitting way of serving an unusually large turbot at the imperial table. The fifth satire deals with the trials and indignities of clients or parasites. A large class of dependents had sprung up in the empire, men often of respec table antecedents but now in reduced circum stances. These clients danced attendance on the great men of the day, and in return received a small daily dole of money and an occasional invitation to their patron's table. The studied discrimination of which they are made the ob ject on such occasions is the special theme of the satire. The sixth satire deals with the
license practised by a certain class of the women of the day. The seventh bewails the unfortunate lot of literary men. Poets, his torians, orators, rhetoricians, teachers alike are all ill paid, neglected and unhappy. The eighth satire arraigns the pretensions of those who pride themselves on their descent. Virtue alone, says the poet, is true nobility. Noble birth should impose responsibilities, but the nobles of Juvenal's day go on the stage and appear as gladiators in the arena. The theme of the ninth satire is similar to that of the second. The tenth (probably the most famous of the whole collection) is on the vanity of human wishes,— the desire for power, for money, for office, for long life, for beauty. The emptiness of all these is illustrated by examples. Shall we then pray for nothing? Yes, "a sound mind in a sound body') (mens sana in corpore sano), a contempt for death, and a willingness to endure toil. The eleventh satire exalts the °simple HO' and country joys. The twelfth is aimed at the legacy-hunter. The thirteenth returns to the general degeneracy of the times and pictures the torments of a guilty conscience. The fourteenth emphasizes the contagion of a bad example, especially in the home, and exhorts parents to be worthy of imitation by their children. The fifteenth aims to illustrate Egyptian barbarity by an account of an Egyptian custom. The sixteenth (a frag ment) enumerates some of the advantages of the soldier's life and status.
Juvenal lacks the urbanity of Horace. Con scious of his own rectitude, he is unscathing in his denunciation of the faults of others. At times he almost deserves the name of scold. Yet his purpose was lofty and he not infre to great nobility of sentiment and expression. The three satires in which he descants on certain of the more odious forms of vice (2, 6, 9) probably give an entirely incor rect picture of the prevailing morality of the day.
The third and tenth satires have been imi tated in Johnson's 'London) and 'Vanity of Human Wishes.' A recent translation is that by S. G. Owen (London 1903).