Ju've-nal, [Lat. Jiivena'us ; Fr. Juvenal, zhii'vl'.
nil'.j or, more fully, Dec'I-mus Ju'nl-U8 Ju-ve-na'-
Us, one of the most celebrated of the Latin satirical pods,
is believed to have been born in Aquimim, a Volscian
town, about A.r>. 40. But few authentic facts have been
preserved respecting his history: it is said, however, that
he was the son of a wealthy frecdman, and that he
devoted the early part of his life to the study of rhetoric
and declamation. He afterwards became a pleader in
the courts of law, where he appears to have been successful.
He was an intimate friend of the poet Martial,
who mentions him in two of his epigrams. None of
the productions of Juvenal were given to the public
until he had passed the age of sixty years. His poems, which
he then recited, gained him universal admiration.
One of his earliest satires had been written against an
actor named Paris, who was a great favourite with the
emperor Domitian. It was not published until the reign
of Hadrian, who, imagining that it reflected on one of
his own favourites, sent Juvenal into an honourable exile
by making him the prefect of a legion in Egypt, where
he is said to have died about ah. 125. Sixteen of his
satires have been preserved. Several translations of
them have been made into English, of which the most
prominent are those of Dryden and Gifford. In these
satires Juvenal severely lashes the prevailing vices cf
his time ; but it may well be doubted whether his vivid
pictures of the licentiousness of that age do not tend to
fan those very passions which thev seem intended to
restrain. He was distinguished for his force of intellect,
his flow of language, and his never-failing wit. "Juvenal
gives me," says Dryden, "as much pleasure as I can
bear. He fully satisfies expectation ; he treats his subject
home. . . . When he gives over, 'tis a sign that the
subject is exhausted, and that the wit of man can carry
it no further." His works, differing equally from the
austere moral dialogues of Persius and the genial raillery
of Horace, are rhetorical rather than poetical. They are
brilliant and sonorous declamations, and master-pieces
"Magnificent versification," says Macaulay, "and ingenious
combinations rarely harmonize with the expression
of deep feeling. In Juvenal and Dryden alone we
have the sparkle and the heat together. Those great
satirists succeeded in communicating the fervour of their
feelings to materials the most incombustible, and kindled
the whole mass into a blaze at once dazzling and
(" Essay on Dryden.") Among the best editions
of Juvenal is that of Ruperti, (Leipsic, 2 vols., 1801,) to
which are prefixed all the ancient documents for the
biography of the satirist.
See J. V. Francke,
" Examen criticum D. J. Juvenalis Vitae,"
1S20, and "
Programma de Vita D. J. Juvenalis Quesiio altera," 1827 ;
Voi.krk, "Juvenal, Lehens- und Charakterbild," 1S51 ; Bauer,
Kritische Bemerkungen iiber einige Nacluichten aus dem Leben
Juvenals," 1833 : Bahr, "Gescbichte der Rbmischen
Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, known in English as Juvenal, was a Roman poet active in the late 1st and early 2nd century AD, author of the
Satires. The details of the author's life are unclear, although references within his text to known persons of the late 1st and early 2nd
centuries AD fix his terminus post quem (earliest date of composition).
In accord with the vitriolic manner of Lucilius – the originator of the genre of Roman satire – and within a poetic tradition that also
included Horace and Persius, Juvenal wrote at least 16 poems in dactylic hexameter covering an encyclopedic range of topics across the
Roman world. While the Satires are a vital source for the study of ancient Rome from a vast number of perspectives, their hyperbolic,
comedic mode of expression makes the use of statements found within them as simple fact problematic, to say the least. At first glance the
Satires could be read as a brutal critique of (Pagan) Rome, perhaps ensuring their survival in Christian monastic scriptoria, a bottleneck
in preservation when the large majority of ancient texts were lost...
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.