Iuvenālis, Decĭmus Iunius in Harpers Dictionary

The fourth in order of time and of literary development of the great writers of Roman satire, his predecessors being Lucilius, Horace, and Persius. Of his life there are known but few particulars. His ancient biographers relate that he was either the son or foster-son of a rich freedman, and was born at Aquinum (cf. Juv.iii. 319) at a date that can not be determined, but which may be approximately given as between A.D. 57 and 67. He is said to have studied rhetoric, and began writing satire not earlier than A.D. 100, for in his first satire (i. 49) he mentions the exile of Marius Priscus, which took place in that year. He lived a simple life at his country estate near Tibur (xi. 65). He tells us himself that he visited Egypt at some period of his life; and according to an inscription dedicated by him to Ceres Helvina, found at Aquinum, he held at various times the offices of tribune of a cohort, duumvir of Aquinum, and flamen. (C. I. L. x. 5382). Tradition explains his military office and his visit to Egypt as having been in reality a form of exile for having attacked the imperial favourite, Paris, in his satires (cf. Sidon. Apoll. viii. 270). Another tradition makes Britain to have been his place of exile. Of the date and place of his death, nothing is known; but he must have died later than A.D. 127, as he mentions Aemilius Iunius (xv. 27). He was a friend of Martial, who speaks of him in friendly terms (vii. 24 and 91; xii. 18). There remain to us sixteen satires of Juvenal, the last of which is probably a fragment, and is by some regarded as spurious. All are written in dactylic hexameters. They represent the final development of satire among the Romans, and answer the modern definition of satiric composition, being passionate, scornful, and filled with the language of indignant denunciation and bitter invective. His subject is not, as with Horace, the foibles and venial follies of the age, but those darker vices whose prevalence taints the history of the times in which he wrote. His tone is, therefore, not that of the indulgent man of the world, but of the stern censor who hates the hideous sins that he looks upon, and scourges them with a whip of scorpions. Yet there is much of the rhetorician's exaggeration in his invective, and it may be questioned whether the passion is not partly simulated. Moreover, the painful minuteness with which he draws the details of abnormal vice, and the excessive crudity of his language in at least two of the satires (the Second and Sixth) seem inconsistent with the professed morality of the writer, and excite a strong suspicion of pruriency. He is at his best in the Third and Tenth, in which he touches the less loathsome faults of contemporary Rome, and where one finds here and there a noble bit of poetry. It is these two satires that Dr. Samuel Johnson paraphrased in English in his two poems, London and The Vanity of Human Riches, with a fire and force and epigrammatic terseness of language that are in no respect inferior to the original. Juvenal is very modern in his mental attitude as well as in his phrasing. An English scholar has recently declared that we are to see in him the first instances in literature of American humour-the humour that derives its effect from bringing together unexpectedly two ludicrously inappropriate ideas, or in applying to the most solemn subjects the familiar language of every-day life. In this, Juvenal has been hailed as the prototype of Hosea Biglow and Mark Twain; and his "waxing over the knees of the gods" and his offering "the sacred sausages of a little white pig" have perhaps to many obscured the other passages of great nobility and beauty that are not far to seek. Of pregnant phrases and epigrammatic sentences, he has made some striking contributions to literature. "Probitas laudatur et alget - facit indignatio versum-res angusta domi - scribendi cacoethes - stemmata quid faciunt? - Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator - Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano - Maxima debetur puero rererentia" - are perhaps the most famous of his many famous epigrams. The best MS. of Juvenal is the Codex Pithoeanus of the ninth century, preserved at Montpellier in France. The other MSS. are enumerated by Jahn in his edition. The editio princeps of Juvenal appeared at Rome in 1470, but undated. Standard editions with notes are those of Ruperti (2d ed. Leipzig, 1819); Lemaire (Paris, 1823); Weber (Weimar, 1825); Heinrich, with scholia (Bonn, 1839); Jahn (Berlin, 1851) revised by Bücheler (Berlin, 1886); Friedländer, 2 vols. (1895); of thirteen satires with English notes, Macleane and Long (2d ed. London, 1867); Simcox (2d ed. London, 1873); Hardy (London, 1883); Pearson and Strong, with good introduction (Oxford, 1887); but especially by J. E. B. Mayor (4th ed. of vol. i. London, 1886; 3d ed. of vol. ii. 1881); of satires i. and ii. by Nash (Boston, 1893). There is a spirited verse translation by Gifford (London, 1817; reprinted in the Bohn Library); and a prose by D. Lewis, with text and notes (2d ed. London, 1882); by Strong and Lesper (London, 1882). On Juvenal, see Widal, Juvénal et ses Satires (Paris, 1869); and au article by Boissier in the Revue des Deux Mondes for June, 1870. On the coincidences between Juvenal and Martial, see a monograph in the introduction to Pearson and Strong's edition. See also the article Satira.

Read More