Juvenal: Satire 1 Latin | Satire 1 English | Satire 1
Juvenal: Satire 2 Latin | Satire 2 English | Satire 2
Juvenal: Satire 3 Latin | Satire 3 English | Satire 3
Edition and translation by G. G. RAMSAY. [Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
IT is a work of some hardihood to attempt the translation into English prose of an
author who is at once a unique master of style, a splendid versifier, the greatest
satirist, and one of the greatest moralists, of the world. Yet it is a task that has
appealed to scholars of every age, and has a special fascination for one who is called
upon by the conditions of this series to produce a version which shall be at once literal
In the case of a great writer like Juvenal, who writes for all time, each generation
seems to demand a translation of its own, in accordance with the changes in its own point
of view and the shifting usages of language; and each translator desires to bring out in
his own way the special meaning which the author has conveyed to him.
I have consulted all the better-known translations, especially those of Mr. S. G. Owen,
Mr. J. D. Lewis, and Messrs. Strong and Leeper: and there are many good idiomatic
renderings of short phrases to be found in Mr. J. D. Duff's excellent edition of Juvenal.
But my greatest obligation is to a collection of MS. papers on Juvenal and Persius left to
me many years ago by my uncle, the late Professor William Ramsay of Glasgow University,
whose prelections on Juvenal were much appreciated. Among these I have found many happy
renderings written on the side of a text used for class purposes; and to the same source I
owe much of the matter of the Introduction, especially the whole section on the history of
the Roman Satura. I have also derived much advantage from Professor Housman's critical
edition of Juvenal, and I have to thank him for permission to make use of his paraphrase
of Sat. vi., ll. O 1-O 30. In translating Persius I have been under the greatest
obligation to the well-known version of Professor Conington.
As it is one of the principles of this series to print the originals as a whole, Sats.
ii., vi., and ix., so often omitted by translators, are included with the rest. They all
contain fine passages, and some of Juvenal's most powerful writing is to be found in Sat. vi. The lines which have to be omitted or toned down to meet modern taste are few in
number, and it must in fairness be acknowledged that although Juvenal's realism is at
times extremely gross, it is always repulsive, never alluring or prurient, in its tone.
I have found it advisable to add summaries to the Satires both of Juvenal and Persius,
so as to make clear in every case the course of the argument. Juvenal's rhetorical
exuberance frequently carries him away from his subject, and leads him into irrelevancies;
while Persius, in his love for recondite phrasing and rapid transitions, sometimes leaves
the reader embarrassed as to his main purpose. Juvenal's sixth Satire, to whose merits so
little attention has been paid in English editions, has been treated somewhat more fully
than the rest.
The text of both the Juvenal and the Persius is based upon Bücheler's text of 1893,
which, as Mr. Duff points out, was the first to give a full and trustworthy account of the
readings of P (the Codex Pithoeanus). Any variation from that text is mentioned in
the notes, together with a statement of the authority on which it has been adopted.
Bücheler's edition was re-edited in 1910, with but few changes, by Dr. F. Leo. The most
important of these changes is that he now recognises as genuine the passage discovered in
1899 by Mr. E. O. Winstedt in the Bodleian MS.
March 1, 1918.
G. G. RAMSAY.
See note on vi. 365, p. 110.
LIFE OF JUVENAL
The only certain evidence as to the facts of Juvenal's life is to be found in casual
allusions in his own Satires; such external authorities as there are possess only an
uncertain value, and do not even give us the dates of his birth and death. The following
passages give us what certain landmarks we possess :
(1) Sat. iv. 153 refers to the murder of the Emperor Domitian, which took place upon
the 18th of September, A.D. 96. Sat. ii. 29-33 contains a gross attack upon
(2) Sat. i. 49, 50 mentions the recent condemnation of Marius Priscus for
extortion in the province of Africa. That trial, made famous by the fact that the younger
Pliny was the chief prosecutor, took place in January, A.D. 100.
(3) The allusion to a comet and an earthquake in connection with Armenian and Parthian
affairs in Sat. vi. 407 has been held, with some probability, to refer to events in
the year 115.
(4) Sat. vii. begins with a prophecy that bright days are in store for
literature, since it has now been assured of the patronage of Caesar. The probability is
that the Caesar thus referred to is Hadrian, who succeeded Trajan in the year A. D. 117.
The attempts to prove that Trajan was the emperor intended have not been successful.
Trajan was by no means a literary emperor, whereas Hadrian was himself a poet and
surrounded himself with literary and artistic persons of various kinds.
(5) In Sat. xiii. 17 Juvenal describes Calvinus, the friend to whom the Satire
is addressed, as one
qui iam post terga reliquit
Sexaginta annos Fonteio consule natus.
There were consuls of the name of Fonteius Capito in three different years, A.D. 12,
59, and 67. The first date is obviously too early; the year referred to is probably A.D.
67, since in that year, and not in the other two, the name of Fonteius stands first in the
Fasti. This would fix Sat. xiii. to the year A.D. 127.
(6) Lastly, in Sat. xv. 27 :
Nos miranda quidem sed nuper consule Iunco
Gesta super calidae referemus moenia Copti,
the reading Iunco, now satisfactorily established for Iunio, refers to
Aemilius Iuncus, who was consul in the year 127. Sat. xv. must therefore have been
written in the year A.D. 127, or shortly after it (nuper).
It will be noted that these dates, supported by various other considerations, suggest
that the Satires are numbered in the order of their publication. This view is confirmed by
the fact recorded that the Satires were originally published in five separate books; the
first book consisting of Sat. i. to v. inclusive, the second of Sat. vi.,
the third of Sat. vii. to ix., the fourth of Sat. x. to xii. inclusive, and
the fifth of the remaining satires. Sat. i. may have been written, as a preface,
after the rest of Book i. Leo thinks Books i.-iv. were re-edited, with Book v. added,
after Juvenal's death.
Such are the only certain indications as to date which can be discovered in Juvenal's
own words. They suggest that the literary period of his life (apart from his earlier
recitations) was embraced within the reigns of the emperors Trajan (A.D. 98-117) and
Hadrian (A.D. 117-138), probably not extending to the end of the latter's reign. And as in Sat. xi. 203 he seems to speak of himself as an old man, we may perhaps, with some
certainty, put his birth between the years .A.D. 60 and 70.
Other indications of a personal kind are few and insignificant. When Umbricius, on
leaving Rome, bids good-bye to his old friend Juvenal, he speaks of the chance of seeing
him from time to time when he comes, for the sake of his health, "to his own
Aquinum"; from which we may fairly infer that the Volscian town of Aquinum was the
poet's native place.
This inference is confirmed by an inscription on a marble stone, now lost, which was
found at Aquinum. The stone formed part of an altar to Ceres; and the inscription records
the fact that the altar had been dedicated to Ceres at his own cost by one D. Junius
Juvenalis, who is described as a Tribune in a Dalmatian cohort, as a duumvir
quinquennalis, and a flamen of the deified emperor Vespasian (Corp. Inscr.
Lat. x. 5382). It should be added that the praenomen of the donor (D.) was not
legible on the inscription, and that only the two first letters of the nomen Junius
could be deciphered.
It is not at all certain that this inscription refers to the poet Juvenal. Apart from a
very doubtful statement in a Biography which has yet to be mentioned, there is no evidence
that Juvenal ever served in the army; indeed, his comments on the army in Sat. xvi., which express a contempt for soldiers very similar in kind to that expressed by
Persius, almost forbid the supposition. His writings suggest that he habitually lived in
Rome, and make it improbable that he could at any time of his life have lived long enough
in Aquinum to enable him to gain and fill the important positions mentioned in the
inscription. The most we can infer is that he belonged to a family of repute in his native
town, and was himself therefore fairly representative of the higher circles of provincial
In Sat. xi. we find Juvenal in Rome, offering to his friend Persicus a frugal
banquet to which his Tiburtine farm was to contribute a fat kid, with other farm produce,
pears, grapes, and apples, together with asparagus gathered in the intervals of her
spinning by his bailiff's wife.
A passage in xv. 45 records the fact that Juvenal had visited Egypt :
luxuria, quantum ipse notavi,
Barbara famoso non cedit turba Canopo;
--a positive statement which cannot be put aside because in his fifteenth Satire the
poet makes a geographical mistake as to the proximity of Ombi to Tentyra, nor yet made too
much of in connection with the statement in the Biography falsely attributed to Suetonius,
to the effect that Juvenal had been sent into Egypt in his old age as a form of
That Juvenal had received the best education of his time and had been trained in the
moral principles of the Stoics is apparent from the whole tenour of his teaching. The
statement in xiii. 121-123 that he had not studied the doctrines of the Cynics,
Epicureans, or Stoics seems only to refer to the more philosophical parts of those
There are three passages in the poet Martial (Epp. VII. xxiv. and xci. and Epp. XII.
xviii.) in which Juvenal is named--if we presume, as seems certain, that the Satirist is
the person there mentioned. These epigrams show that the two poets lived on terms of
friendship and familiarity with one another, but they throw no light upon Juvenal's
personal history and career. In the epigram VII. xci. written in A.D. 93, Juvenal is
styled facundus, an epithet which implies that by that time Juvenal's reputation,
either as a declaimer or as an author, was established; while in XII. xviii. Martial
contrasts his own peaceful and happy life in a rural district of Spain with the noisy,
restless life led by Juvenal in the Suburra. As Martial's twelfth book was written and
collected between the years 102 and 104, that date would correspond pretty closely with
that estimated above for the beginning of Juvenal's literary activity. As Duff puts it,
"the facts go to prove that Martial ceased to write about the time that Juvenal
Amid the scanty external evidence as to the life of Juvenal, it is necessary to pay
some attention to the statements made in the old Biographies which are attached to many of
the ancient manuscripts of Juvenal. Early scholars were inclined to attribute these
Biographies, or at least the oldest of them, from which the others were copied, either to
Suetonius, the author of the Lives of the first twelve Caesars, or to Valerius Probus, a
distinguished grammarian of the second century. It is now generally admitted that there is
no ground for these attributions, and that in all probability the earliest of them, from
which the others were evidently copied with some difference of detail, are not older than
the fourth century A.D. For all that, they seem to represent, more or less, an ancient
tradition, and it is worth while considering how far some of their statements seem
probable in themselves, and fit in with our other sources of information, or present
improbabilities which cannot be accepted.
The oldest and best form of the Biography is as follows:
VITA D. JUNII JUVENALIS.- Iunius Iuvenalis, libertini locupletis incertum est
filius an alumnus, ad mediam fere aetatem declamauit animi magis causa quam quod se
scholae aut foro praepararet. Deinde paucorum versuum satyra non absurde composita in
Paridem pantomimum poetamque [eius] semenstribus militiolis tumentem [hoc?] genus
scripturae industriose excoluit. Et tamen diu ne modico quidem auditorio quicquam
committere est ausus. Mox magna frequentia magnoque successu bis ac ter auditus est, ut ea
quoque quae prima fecerat inferciret novis scriptis:
quod non dant proceres, dabit histrio. Tu Camerinos
Et Bareas, tu nobilium magna atria curas?
Praefectos Pelopea facit, Philomela tribunos.
Erat tum in deliciis aulae histrio, multique fautorum eius cottidie provehebantur.
Venit ergo Iuvenalis in suspicionem, quasi tempora figurate notasset, ac statim per
honorem militiae quamquam octogenarius urbe summotus est missusque ad praefecturam
cohortis in extrema parte tendentis Aegypti. Id supplicii genus placuit, ut levi atque
ioculari delicto par esset. Verum intra brevissimum tempus angore et taedio periit.
The first sentence of this Life contains no information that we are not prepared to
accept. Nothing is more probable than that Juvenal had long practised himself in the art
of declamation, and only embarked on publication when his reputation was established, and
he felt confident of success. His recitations would at first be delivered to select
coteries of congenial friends, in whose company he would forge out and perfect his biting
epigrams, just as Tacitus is supposed to have done with his famous sententiae. It
is quite probable, therefore, that such a passage as that quoted from Sat. vii. may
originally have formed part of a private recitation, and have afterwards been incorporated
in the more finished edition of the Satire when published. But in explaining the rest of
the Life the early commentators were sadly at fault.
The person satirised in the passage quoted in the Life was a dancer of the name of
Paris, who had just been mentioned in connection with the poet Statius. "A monstrous
thing," says Juvenal, "that after charming the town with his beautiful voice,
Statius would have to starve if he did not sell to Paris his unpublished Agave": Esurit, intactam Paridi nisi vendit Agaven (vii. 87).
NOw there were two famous dancers of the name of Paris, to either of whom the passage
in Sat. vii. might apply. The one flourished, and was put to death, in the reign of
Nero; while the other met a similar fate under Domitian. The early commentators on the
Biography took it for granted, naturally enough, that the Paris mentioned in the Biography
was the same Paris that is mentioned by Juvenal himself in Sat. vii. But the dates
given above for the life of Juvenal prove conclusively that neither of the artists who
bore the name of Paris could possibly have brought about the banishment of Juvenal in the
manner stated. The later of the two was put to death in the reign of Domitian; and it has
been shown above that the period of Juvenal's literary activity did not begin, and that Sat. vii. was not published, till some years after the death of that Emperor. All attempts to
bring the banishment within the period of Domitian's reign have broken down.
But though the story of Juvenal's banishment as usually told cannot possibly be true,
it has been ingeniously suggested that the words of the Biography may be read in such a
way as to give it some measure of probability. Having stated that Juvenal had scored a
success by his Satire against Paris-a Satire evidently declaimed among private friends-we
are told that he was subsequently encouraged to insert the passage among his published
works. The biography then goes on : Erat tum in deliciis aulae histrio, multique
fautorum eius cottidie provehebantur. Venit ergo Iuvenalis in suspicionem, quasi tempora
figurate notasset. Filled with resentment at this attack, the histrio prevailed
upon the emperor to send Juvenal into exile in Egypt under pretence of a military command,
where he died shortly after of a broken heart.
Now we are not obliged to translate the words erat tunc in deliciis aulae histrio by "The actor [i.e. Paris] was at that time a favourite of the Court."
The words indeed would more naturally mean "There was at that time an actor
who was a favourite at Court," who resented the attack upon a member of his own
profession as an indirect attack upon himself. The words which follow show that the
offence did not consist of the personal attack on Paris, but that the attack on Paris was
considered to contain a sidelong indirect attack (quasi figurate notasset) upon
some other actor. Such an incident is not at all likely to have happened in the reign of
either Nerva or Trajan, but it may well have occurred under Hadrian, who became emperor in
A.D. 117. Hadrian himself was a patron of actors and artistes of every kind, and he was
quite a person who might have taken offence at a supposed insult offered to one of his
favourites. The words of Sidonius Apollinaris, in the sixth century, who says of Juvenal irati
fuit histrionis exul, show how steadily the tradition of the banishment had maintained
itself. There is a certain convergence of dates in Juvenal's life towards the year 119;
and though the above explanation can only be looked upon as a conjecture, it presents a
story which may not impossibly be true, while the traditional version of the story is
 The idea that Juvenal possessed a paternal estate, distinct from the farm at Tibur,
seems to rest upon a misconception of the meaning of vi. 57.
 The allusion is to honorary appointments to the military tribunate (imaginariae
militiae genus, Suet. Claud. 25), a system instituted by Claudius in order that
the holder might obtain equestrian rank. The word militiola means "a trumpery
period of military service."
LIFE OF PERSIUS
WE know from the Eusebian chronicle that the poet A. Persius Flaccus was born in the
year A.D. 34, somewhat more than two years before the death of the Emperor Tiberius, and
that he died in the year 62. He thus lived through the reigns of Caligula and Claudius and
the first eight years of Nero. For other information as to his life and circumstances our
sole source of information is an ancient Biography prefixed to many of the manuscripts of
Persius. This Biography many scholars attributed to Suetonius, the biographer of the first
twelve Caesars, on the ground that the lexicographer Suidas says that that author wrote a
book De Poetis, of which the ancient biographies of Terence and Horace are supposed
to have formed a part. In the oldest MSS., however, the Biography of Persius is described
as having been taken from a commentary of Valerius Probus, so that we may with some
probability attribute this Biography either to the famous grammarian of that name, who
lived in the reign of Nero, or to one or other of the grammarians who bore the same name.
Such as it is, this authority is the best that we possess; and as it is evidently of
ancient origin, and deals with simple facts with regard to which there could be no motive
for falsification, we may with some confidence accept its statements as authentic.
We are told that the poet was born at Volaterrae on the 4th of December, A.D. 34, and
that he died of an affection of the stomach on the 24th of November, A.D. 62. He was a
Roman Eques, of good position, and became heir to a considerable fortune. His father died
when he was only six years old; and though his mother married again, becoming a widow for
the second time, she attended carefully to his education, first at Volaterrae, and then
removing him in his twelfth year to Rome. There he went through the usual course of
instruction for youths in his position, attending the lectures, first of the distinguished
grammarian Remmius Palaemon, and afterwards those of the rhetorician Virginius Flavus. At
the age of sixteen he was put under the charge of the Stoic philosopher L. Annaeus
Cornutus, who became his guide, philosopher, and friend, and towards whom, in one of the
most charming passages in his Satires, he pours forth his feelings in terms of the
liveliest gratitude and affection (Sat. v. 30-51).
Though living in a small domestic circle, in terms of closest intimacy with his mother,
his sister, and his aunt, he seems to have been admitted to the best literary society of
the time, and especially of persons connected with the Stoic School. One of his earliest
friends was the lyric poet Caesius Bassus; he was intimate with the famous Paetus Thrasea,
whose wife, the heroic Arria, was a kinswoman of his own; he enjoyed the friendship of
Lucan, who was a great admirer of his works, declaring haec vera poemata esse. He
was also acquainted with Seneca, though, as might be expected, he is said not to have
admired his character. He left his library, including his own Satires, with a sum of
money, to Cornutus, who accepted the library and, after making a few corrections, handed
over the editing of the Satires to his friend Caesius Bassus. We are told that he wrote
slowly, as might easily be discovered from the style of the Satires themselves. He was of
a pleasing appearance, had the most gentle manners, was pure and temperate in his life,
and exemplary in his domestic relations. The Biography ends with some dubious assertions,
probably added by a later hand, among which is the baseless idea which possessed his early
commentators, that the main object of the First Satire was to ridicule the poetical
productions of the Emperor Nero.
That Persius was born at Volaterrae in Etruria rests on the authority of the Biography,
as also of the Eusebian chronicle; yet learned commentaries have been written to wrest the
words of Sat. vi. 6-7 from. their natural meaning in the endeavour to prove that
the poet was born at the town of Luna on the Gulf of Spezzia, on the Genoese coast, near
the famous marble quarries of Carrara. Having migrated to that delicious spot for the
winter, Persius writes
mihi nunc Ligus ora
Intepet, hibernatque meum mare.
But the words meum mare cannot be made to bear the meaning of a native shore;
and, even if they did, the phrase might well be used of the sea that beats on the shores
of Etruria, in which province the poet was born.
The period of the early years of Persius marks in a peculiar manner the change which
had taken place in the general system of education as formerly pursued at Rome with a view
to the needs of actual life. This change was the direct result of the downfall of the old
constitution, and the substitution of an all-pervading despotism for the free play of
public life which had characterised and ennobled the fine days of the Republic. The change
exercised a most baneful influence on the minds and tastes of the Roman people, and its
blighting effects soon became all too conspicuous in the rapid decline of their
It would be hard to imagine a system of education more practical and more stimulating
for the youth of a great and free country, preparing itself for the task of civilising and
dominating the world, than that which was pursued in Rome after the roughness and
ignorance of the Latin warrior had been softened and enlightened by acquaintance with the
art and literature of Greece. The Dialogus of Tacitus has left us a detailed
account of that system as followed by those who looked forward to taking a part in the
public life of the time. For such young men some excellence in public speaking was a
matter of absolute necessity. Careful training at home would be followed by what we might
call a course of secondary education, embracing Grammar, Rhetoric and Literature. To this
would be added a course of Philosophy, for which the more eager spirits would repair to
Athens, which had now become the University of the world. His preliminary education thus
completed, the youth of full age would be put under the patronage of some leading
statesman of the time. Taking his stand beside his patron when receiving in his atrium the
visits of his friends, he would there hear discussions on all the current topics of the
day. He would accompany his patron to the Law Courts, watch the cases that were being
tried, and hear experienced comments upon them, as well as upon the speeches that had been
delivered. After this initiation into public affairs, the young man would have to serve
his time in the army-a period of 20 years in the infantry, or 10 years in the cavalry,
seems to have been originally exacted-after which he was fully qualified to enter upon
public life on his own account.
It is little to be wondered at that such a training, pursued in an atmosphere of
political freedom, should have achieved great results; and we may say with some
confidence, leaving moral considerations aside, that the number of great men who
flourished in Rome during the last century of the Republic--the period during which the
effects of the above system made themselves felt--whether as warriors, statesmen, orators,
historians, or poets--scarcely finds a parallel in the history of the world.
But when Augustus had succeeded in crushing all his rivals, and establishing in place
of a free Republic a system of pure though carefully-veiled autocracy, the results soon
began to make themselves felt. Virgil and Horace, enamoured of the charms of peace after
the horrors of civil war, and persuading themselves that Augustus was the natural
successor, representative, and restorer of all that was best in ancient Rome, succeeded
for a while in investing the personal government of Augustus with a poetic atmosphere
which corresponded little with its real nature. But they had no successors. Reposing
gladly under the paternal sway of Augustus during his later years, Rome lost her ideals.
She was peaceful, prosperous, and contented; the fiery spirit of the old Republican days
gradually died away, and the majority of the citizens, finding that servility was the
surest road to advancement, "preferred the security of the present to the hazards of
the past." The patronage accorded by Augustus to men of letters may have done
something to arrest the decay of literature; but with the close of the reign of Augustus
and the accession of Tiberius the truth could no longer be concealed that the days of
liberty were over, and the natural results followed in every department of human life and
thought. Deprived of the inspiration of reality, literature and oratory descended from the
public to the private stage, and lost alike their meaning and their manliness. Pursuits
which could only be followed with danger soon ceased to be followed at all, and instead of
being trained by public men among public concerns, the youth were now taught to exercise
themselves in the schools of the rhetoricians, where they learnt to carry on subtle
disputations on topics wholly remote from common life.
For the decline of literature, there is no more authentic testimony than that of
Persius; and yet he seems to be quite unconscious of the true causes of that decline. His
first Satire fills an important gap in the history of Roman literature. It contains an
elaborate attack upon the poetry and the poetical methods of his own day, whose weaknesses
he connects, in true Stoic fashion, not with the loss of public freedom, but with the
decay of morality: Rome has lost, he tells us, all sense of what is good or bad, what is
manly or mawkish, in literature; she now loves the turgid and the grandiloquent; dandy
poets, after careful preparation, inflame the passions of their audience with poems of a
licentious cast. Others, with similar affectations of dress and manner, bring down the
applause of the house with sentimental mythological ditties, and in their efforts for
smoothness lose all manliness of tone. Many buy the coveted commendation by gifts of
dainties or old clothes. Others again affect archaisms, or revel in bombastic mouthings
which would make Virgil turn in his grave. No orator can defend a client accused of crime
without using all the elaborate figures of rhetoric; all simple writing, all honest
criticism have disappeared; "I at least must tell the truth, and I must write down
Rome as an ass!" (Sat. i. 121.
Such is the outspoken verdict of Persius on the poetry and oratory in his day; yet
never for a moment does he hint at its true cause; never once does he heave a sigh-even a
despairing sigh like that of Lucan-over the loss of public liberty. And yet he had two
admirable opportunities for suggesting the topic. The opening words of the 4th Satire (Rem
populi tractas?) suggest a political discourse. "What are the
qualifications," he asks, "with which the budding statesman should provide
himself ? " But the question is never answered; the Satire turns out to be a purely
abstract disquisition on the subject of self-knowledge, dressed up with a pretended
application to the case of Alcibiades.
Not less remarkable is the avoidance of all reference to public life in the 5th Satire.
The main subject of that poem is that of human freedom, being an expansion of the doctrine
of the Stoics that all men (Stoics of course excepted) are slaves. Here, if anywhere, was
the opportunity for pointing, directly or indirectly, to the state of political servitude
into which Rome had fallen. But no trace of such an idea is to be found. From first to
last the subject is treated from the point of view of the schools, the sole question
raised being that of the command by the individual of his own soul. Even when the poet
touches on the subject of Roman citizenship, it is to dismiss with scorn the idea that it
conferred any kind of freedom worth having :
Heu steriles veri, quibus una Quiritem Vertigo facit ! (v. 75.)
Not one word is there in Persius, from beginning to end, that recognises the change
that had passed over public life in Rome, or of the results of that change on the morals
and intellects of the time.
 Tac. Ann. I. ii.
 plus est quam vita salusque Quod perit (Pharsalia, vii. 640).
THE SUPPOSED OBSCURITY OF PERSIUS
It has been the fashion to characterise Persius as obscure, but the epithet is hardly
deserved. He is undoubtedly difficult; his mode of expressing himself is often peculiar
and fantastic. There is a certain preciosity in his choice of phrases; he is sometimes
crabbed and tortuous, and in his desire for compression he occasionally, especially in his
many repetitions of Horatian ideas, seeks to obtain extra force by blending two ideas into
one without giving full expression to either. He is often elliptical; his dialogue is
abrupt and hard to follow. He is certainly difficult as a whole, and his style is one
which needs to be wrestled with; but with a little careful attention the sequence of his
thought can always be discovered, and, though individual passages may cause embarrassment,
he cannot as a whole be justly charged with obscurity. His contemporaries did not find him
obscure. The Biography tells us that no sooner was the book published than it became the
rage (edictum librum continuo mirari homines et diripere coeperunt). Martial
vouches for its popularity:
Saepius in libro memoratur Persius uno
Quam levis in tota Marsus Amasonide.
IV. xxix. 7-8.
And the careful critic Quintilian, tells us: Multum et verae gloriae, quamvis uno
libro, Persius meruit (Inst. Or. x. i. 94).
If, then, the obscurity of Persius was unknown to his contemporaries, we must look to
some other cause for its discovery; and this seems to be provided by what is evidently a
spurious addition to the Biography, to the effect that the first Satire of Persius was
intended as an attack upon Nero and his poetical efforts. The original text of i. 121, we
are told, ran thus :
Auriculas asini Mida rex habet;
but alarmed by the boldness of these lines, which seemed to point too plainly to Nero,
Cornutus emended the line, making it read (as in the now received text)
Auriculas asini quis non habet ?
a reading which, as we have already seen, gives point and meaning to the whole Satire.
But the idea that Nero was the object of attack in the 1st Satire could not be allowed
to drop; it was soon developed by the commentators, and became parent of the idea that
Persius was obscure. Supposed references to Nero were found to lurk in every line of Sat. i.; and it was even discovered that Nero was also the covert object of attack in the 4th
Satire-an idea which has not even yet departed from the pages of some of our modern
commentators. The height of absurdity was reached by the Scholiast who, when commenting on
the four lines ridiculed in Sat. i. 99-103, informs us verba Neronis sunt;
to which a more recent annotator added that the lines are taken from a tragedy, supposed
to be written by Nero, called the Bacchantes. No such play has ever been heard of;
no tragic play that was ever written would contain passages in dactylic hexameters; yet we
are actually asked to believe that a critic like Cornutus, so anxious to score out a
harmless reference to King Midas for fear that Nero might take it to himself, allowed four
whole lines, known by everybody to have formed part of a play of Nero's, to stand
uncorrected! Thus the original idea on which the charge of obscurity mainly rested falls
to the ground, and we may apply his own motto to the interpreting of his difficulties-nec
te quaesiveris extra.
PERSIUS AND JUVENAL COMPARED
The great difference between Persius and Juvenal is this, that Persius was a poet of
the study, a student, a recluse, full of youthful enthusiasm, living in a retired
atmosphere under the shelter of loving female relatives, and with no knowledge of the
outside life of the world beyond what could be gathered from the lectures of his Stoic
instructors. His world is not the living world of Rome, but the world of books; his
incidents, his characters, are chiefly taken from Horace, whose virile expressions he
delights to serve up in some novel and recondite form, or from the stock examples of the
Juvenal, on the other hand, is a realist of the realists; he grapples with the real
things of life, and derives all his inspiration from the doings of the men and women of
his own day. He belonged to the generation which had suffered from the enormities of
Caligula, Claudius and Nero; his childhood probably witnessed the concluding and worst
phases of the reign of Nero, and he lived through the whole of the gloomy tyranny of
Domitian. He thus knew what Rome was in the period of her worst corruption. Impregnated
with the moral teaching of the Stoics, he was no mere repeater of the commonplaces of the
Schools. An ardent admirer of the simple and hardy virtues of ancient Rome, he holds up a
mirror to every part of the private life of the Rome of his day, and by the most caustic
and trenchant invective seeks to shame her out of her vices. He was thus eminently fitted
on the ground of personal experience to describe the manners of Imperial Rome at the
period of her worst corruption, and long practice had put in his hands a weapon which
enabled him to castigate them with matchless power and severity.
Juvenal's pictures are doubtless exaggerated; all brilliant rhetoric is more or less
overstrained, and the peculiar doctrines of Stoicism naturally lent themselves to paradox
and exaggeration. But apart from Stoicism, there are certain fundamental prejudices in
Juvenal's mind which, though honestly entertained, and natural in one who was always
looking back to the worthies of old Rome for examples, are pressed upon us with a
frequency and an emphasis which seem excessive. His belief in the virtue of primitive
times; his hatred of the foreigner, especially one coming from Greece and the East; his
tirades against wealth and the wealthy, and his suggestion that wealth is always acquired
by unworthy means; his laudation of mere poverty; his incapacity to see any object in
trade except that of self-enrichment, or any value at all in humble or menial occupations,
however useful to the community (Sat. iii. 7I-2)--all these ideas belong to what we
may call the old Roman part of Juvenal's prepossessions. They serve to account for the
singular want of proportion which is to be observed in some of his moral judgments, and
they have to be reckoned with in estimating the value of his censures.
With these modifying elements in view, it has often been asked, How far can we depend
upon the denunciations of Juvenal as presenting a faithful picture of the Rome of his day?
His sincerity cannot be questioned. It is impossible, as we read through his satires, not
to feel that he speaks what in his conscience he believes to be the truth, and appraises
everything and everybody in accordance with the standard of morality which he has accepted
as his guide in life. His pictures of Rome, and of life in Rome, are so vivid, so full of
characteristic detail, that they carry with them a conviction of their fidelity; while his
shrewd knowledge of human nature, and the truly noble lines on which he lays down some of
the great principles of human conduct-many of them in harmony with the best ideas of
modern times-make us feel a general confidence in his moral judgments.
But we have more than internal evidence to rely upon. The poet Martial, who was a
contemporary and friend of Juvenal, lived through the very period from which Juvenal's
sketches are taken. His epigrams deal with the same topics of social life which form the
staple of Juvenal's satires. The Rome of Martial is the Rome of Juvenal. He describes, in
the minutest detail, the same vices and the same manner of living; and the correspondence
between them acquires a double force from the fact that the two authors looked at these
same things from a totally different angle. Juvenal was a moralist; he regarded the vices
and follies of his day as affording material for reprobation; Martial looked upon the same
facts as affording material for quips and epigrams. Juvenal hardly ever casts off the
attitude of a preacher; Martial gives an identical picture of Roman life without a touch
of moral indignation.
But although we cannot but accept Juvenal's account of the corruption of his day as
true in the main, it does not follow that it was true of all Rome, and that there was no
reverse side to the picture. We know from Pliny, Seneca, and other writers, that there
were many quiet, thoughtful and well-conducted homes in Rome, in which a high level of
morality was reached, which had no share in the corruptions of the time, and were
preparing the ground for that period of philosophical reflection and moral regeneration
which distinguished the second century. We may, therefore, console ourselves by the
reflection that the castigations of Juvenal, though justified on the whole, referred
mainly to what might be called the seamy side of Roman life-a side to which some parallel
may be found in our own boasted centres of civilization.
Juvenal was no politician; he never casts an eye on the political conditions of his
day. He is as blind as Persius to the effects on Roman life and character of the loss of
public freedom. Though a passionate admirer of the Republican heroes of old Rome, he never
expends a sigh upon the downfall of the Republic; he has none of the belated and
despairing republicanism which inspires the sonorous hexameters of Lucan. He does not
hesitate to dwell on the crimes and vices of individual emperors; but he accepts their
rule as a matter of course. He never connects the autocratic character of the government
with the degradation of the Roman people which he deplores. He is essentially the moralist
of private life; perhaps the only distinctly political observation that can be discovered
in his satires is when he declares that Rome was free in the days when she called Cicero
the "Father of his Country":
Sed Roma parentem,
Roma patrem patriae Ciceronem libera dixit.
THE Satura OF ROME
The classical passage on Roman Satura is to be found in Quintilian, Inst.
Orat. x. i. 93-95:
Satura quidem tota nostra est, in qua primus insignem laudem adeptus Lucilius
quosdam ita deditos sibi adhuc habet amatores ut eum non eiusdem modo operis auctoribus
sed omnibus poetis praeferre non dubitent . . .
After comparing Lucilius with Horace, he proceeds to say:
Multum et verae gloriae quamvis uno libro Persius meruit. Sunt clari hodieque et qui
olim nominabuntur. Alterum illud etiam prius saturae genus, sed non sola carminum
varietate mixtum, condidit Terentius Varro, vir Romanorum eruditissimus. Plurimos hic
libros et divitissimos composuit, peritissimus linguae Latinae et omnis antiquitatis et
rerum Graecarum nostrarumque, plus tamen scientiae collaturus quam eloquentiae.
To this we may add the testimony of the grammarian Diomedes (fourth-fifth century), p.
Satura dicitur carmen apud Romanos, non apud Graecos, maledicum et ad carpenda
hominum vitia archaeae comoediae charactere compositum, quale scripserunt Lucilius et
Horatius et Persius; at olim carmen quod e variis poematibus constabat satura nominabatur,
quale scripserunt Pacuvius et Ennius.
Satura carmina multa simul et poemata comprehenduntur.
Comparing the above passages we learn that there were several kinds of composition
known by the name of Satura:
(I) The Satire of Lucilius, Horace, and Juvenal;
(2) Another form of Satire founded by Terentius Varro, of which the characteristic
feature was that it was non sola carminum varietate mixtum; and
(3) The kind distinguished from the Varronian kind by the preceding definition, and
more particularly described by Diomedes as having been used by Pacuvius and Ennius, and
defined as carmen quod e variis poematibus constabat.
But even so we have not reached the earliest form of Satura, possibly of a
dramatic kind. In recounting the history of the importation of dramatic games from Etruria
into Rome in consequence of a pestilence in the year B.C. 364, Livy tells us (vii. 2) how
the ludiones imported from Etruria danced Tuscan dances of a not ungraceful kind to
the music of the pipe, but without words or gestures; how the native youth imitated these
performances, adding to them the jocular bandying of verses amongst each other with
appropriate gesticulations; till at last, improving upon these early efforts, non,
sicut antea, Fescennino versu similem incompositum temere ac rudem alternis iaciebant; sed
impletas modis saturas, descripto iam ad tibicinem cantu, motuque congruenti peragebant.
Hence the introduction of the drama some years afterwards (B.C. 240) by Livius Andronicus qui
ab saturis ausus est primus argumento fabulam serere, i.e. construct a play with a
We thus see that the name of Satura was originally given to a rough musical
performance of a semi-dramatic kind, being developed it would seem from the rude
banterings in extempore verse or otherwise of the Italian youth, who were famed for the antiqua
et vernacula festivitas with which they used to pelt each other in times of village
festivals and rejoicings.[l]
Of the Satires of Pacuvius we know nothing, except from the above-quoted passage from
Diomedes; but of those of Ennius (B.C. 239-169) we know enough to give us a good idea of
what they were. Porphyrion speaks of the fourth book of his Satires, Donatus of a sixth,
each Satire forming a book in itself; and some few fragments of them remain. One deals
with astrologers and interpreters of dreams, another with female license; and Quintilian
tells us that one of his Satires took a dramatic form:-ut Voluptatem et Virtutem
Prodicus, ut Mortem et Vitam quas contendentes in satura tractat Ennius (Inst. Orat.
ix. ii. 36). Thus Ennian Satire seems to have consisted of a variety of poetical pieces,
composed in various metres, on various topics drawn from daily life, occasionally
employing dialogue, and written with a certain humour and sprightliness of style.
The Satura of the learned Varro (B.C. 116-28), as we have already seen,
contained prose as well as verse (non sola carminum varietate mixtum), and
according to the statement put into his mouth by Cicero (Acad. i. ii. 8) they were
written in imitation of the Greek philosopher Menippus:
Et tamen in illis veteribus nostris, quae Menippum imitati, non interpretati, quadam
hilaritate conspeximus, multa admixta ex intima philosophia, multa dicta dialectice.
So too Aulus Gellius ii. xviii. 10:
Alii quoque non pauci fuerunt qui post philosophi clari exstiterunt. Ex quibus ille
Menippus fuit cuius librum M. Varro in Saturis imitatus est, quas alii Cynicas, ipse
Now Menippus was a Cynic philosopher of Gadara (fl. circ. B.C. 60), who from the
character of his works was distinguished by the epithet s p o u d a i o g e 'l o i o V , i.e. "serio-comic,"
in consequence of the humorous style in which he expressed himself, one of his aims being
to ridicule the folly and trifling of the pseudo-philosophers of the day.
The slight fragments preserved of Menippus are not enough to enable us to judge of his
style; but from sundry notices of him in Lucian we may gather that his Satires were
written in prose, that they frequently introduced dialogue, and that they embraced a
large variety of topics, including especially the ridicule of false philosophers. Varro's
Satires gained the name of Menippea, as Cicero informs us, from their general likeness to
those of Menippus in style and subject. Both employed dialogue, both discoursed on many
subjects, and both conveyed instruction in a humorous and playful form.
Varro was the most voluminous of writers (p o l u g r a j 'w t a t o V , Cic. Epp. ad Att. xiii. 18); he himself computed that he
had written 490 books. Of these it is obvious, from the number of times they are quoted by
writers down to the beginning of the fifth century, that the Menippean Satires were the
most popular. There seem to have been no less than 150 of them, each in a separate book;
the grammarians Aulus Gellius (A.D. 117-180) and Nonius Marcellus (fourth century?) cite
fragments of at least 82 of the Satires. The titles, of which many have been preserved,
are enough to show the variety and humorous character of their contents, which covered
many different subjects, social, philosophic, and political. Among them are the following:
'U d r o k 'u w n , apparently an attack upon the
Cynics, the " Prohibitionists " of their day; T r i k 'a r a n o V
"the three-headed monster," perhaps an attack upon the First Triumvirate; P e r i ' e x a g w g h ^V , on
suicide; G n w ^q i s e a u t 'o n ;
'O n o V l 'u r a V , the ass
who pretends to a taste for music; D i 'V p a i ^d e V 'o i g 'e r o n t e V Tithonus, on old age; T o u ^ p a t r o 'V t o ' p a i d 'i o n (the
subject of Juvenal's fourteenth Satire); and Pransus paratus, which seems to have
suggested the lines of our modern poet,
Serenely full, the epicure may say
"Fate cannot harm me, I have dined to-day."
We now come to the greatest form of Satura, which has stamped its name on the
history of literature and the world, the Satire of Lucilius and Horace, of Persius and of
 For these extempore rustic effusions, full of coarse and pungent wit, see Virg. Geo.
ii. 385-395, and Hor. Epp. i. 147-167. Having regard to the evidence afforded by
these passages, and by the passage from Livy quoted above, it is not possible to accept
the statement of Prof. H. Nettleship that "Lucilius was the first writer who
impressed upon the Satura that character of invective which it to a great extent
preserved in the hands of Horace, Persius and Juvenal" (Lectures and Essays,
second series, 1895). On the contrary, it would seem that personal abuse formed the
essence of the first beginnings of Satura.
 We may compare this with the subject of Juvenal's second Satire.
 Probus indeed (ad Virg. Ecl. vi. 31) says that Varro's satire was called
after Menippus: quod is quoque omnigeno carmine saturas suas expoliverat; but among
the many passages in which Menippus is mentioned by those who must have known his writings
there is no hint that he ever wrote in verse.
C. Lucilius, proclaimed by Horace, Persius, and Juvenal as the founder of Roman Satire,
was born at Suessa Aurunca, in Campania, in B.C. 180; he died about B.C. 103. If not
actually the inventor of Roman Satire, he was the first to mould it into that form which
subsequently acquired consistency and full development in the hands of his distinguished
successors. Juvenal has no hesitation in acknowledging him as its father:
Cur tamen hoc potius libeat decurrere campo
Per quem magnus equos Auruncae flexit alumnus;
Sat. i. 19-20.
Horace says of him that he was the first to compose poems in this style:
Quid cum est Lucilius ausus
Primus in hunc operis componere carmina morem,
Sat. ii. i. 63.
Like Quintilian, Horace proclaims Lucilius as a writer in a style unknown to Greece:
Graecis intacti carminis auctor (Sat. i. x. 66).
He was a man of good social position; Horace speaks of himself as "infra Lucili
censum " (Sat. ii. i. 75). He served in the Numantine war, and seems to
have been on intimate terms with Scipio, and the literary society which gathered round
him. He was a prolific writer, having written no less than thirty books of Satires, each
book probably containing several pieces. The subjects treated were of the most
miscellaneous kind, embracing questions of religion, morals, politics, and literary
criticism; some of them even touched on questions of spelling. Living in the days of the
free republic, he indulged in broad and coarse personalities, attacking his enemies by
secuit Lucilius urbem,
Te Lupe, te Muci, et genuinum fregit in illis.
Pers. i. 114-15.
In this respect, Horace tells us, Lucilius took his model from the writers of the old
Attic comedy; but while commending his freedom and his wit, Horace is severe upon his
style, which he pronounces rough, redundant, and inartistic. In the general tone of his
writings, and in the purity of his aims, he seems to have represented on its best side the
literary and moral ideas of the Scipionic circle. His poems have been described as open
letters to the public, embracing the whole life of a cultivated man of the world in good
position, ready to criticise everything and everybody in politics, literature, and social
With regard to the metre which he employed, the great body of his poems, with some
exceptions, were written in dactylic hexameters; and from that time forward this became
the recognised metre of Roman satire.
And now for the bond which linked together these various forms of composition under the
common name of Satura..
It was the practice among the ancients, in making the stated sacrifices to Ceres or
Bacchus, or other rural deities, to offer to each god a collection of the various
first-fruits of the earth, piled up upon a large platter. The Creeks designated offerings
of this mixed kind by the name p a g k r a p 'i a or p 'a g k r a p o V q u s 'i a ; while
the Latins called a platter thus piled up a lanx satura, or simply satura,
that word being the feminine of the adjective satur (from root sat),
signifying repletion. The same word was used of other things possessing the same quality:
a Lex passed per saturam was a law containing enactments on various subjects which
were all passed together as a whole. Thus the term came to be used of any miscellaneous
collection, any medley or hotch-potch consisting of many mixed ingredients.
(1) The first kind of entertainment to which the word was applied was that described by
Livy vii. 2, consisting of rough dialogue set to music (impletas modis saturas),
with singing and dancing. The whole might appropriately be called a Dramatic Miscellany or Medley.
(2) Ennius and Pacuvius removed Satura from the stage, and gave the name to a
number of pieces composed on a variety of subjects and in a variety of metres. The whole,
viewed as a collection, might be called a Poetical Miscellany.
(3) Varro, taking as his model the dialogues of Menippus, wrote a vast number of pieces
on a multitude of different subjects, some purely comic, some on grave themes drawn from
recondite philosophy, but even these treated with a certain liveliness of manner (conspersas
hilaritate quadam), and all thrown into the form of a dialogue, mostly in prose,
possibly with some admixture of verse, and forming what may be called a serio-comic Philosophic
(4) Finally comes the Satura Luciliana, the great characteristic of which
was the variety of subjects dealt with. Of these, however, politics ceased to be one after
the time of Lucilius. If we admit the limits marked out for himself by Juvenal in the
Quidquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas,
Gaudia, discursus, nostri farrago libelli est (i. 85-6),
we might define it as a Moral Miscellany. Unlike previous forms of Satire, it
eliminated prose and restricted itself to one form of verse, the dactylic hexameter. It
devoted itself mainly to social and moral topics, castigating the vices and follies of
mankind as depicted in their lives and occupations. Almost any subject relating to man or
society might be dealt with in a Satura. Horace allowed himself a very wide field,
including critical disquisitions and such anecdotes as might lead to humorous or caustic
comment; while Lucilius went further still, entering even on the discussion of questions
of grammar and orthography. Having originated on the stage, Satire retained to the last
evident traces of its dramatic origin. Varro's Satires consisted largely of dialogue;
dialogue is constantly appearing in Horace; Juvenal is full of dramatic touches; while the
proper unravelling of obscurely marked dialogue forms one of the main difficulties in the
interpretation of Persius.
JUVENAL'S SATIRES SUMMARIZED
The contents of Juvenal's Satires may be summarised as follows:
In his 1st Satire, which was probably written as a Preface, either to the whole of the
Satires, or to one of the five separate books which made up the whole, Juvenal again
follows in the steps of Persius. Among the reasons which impelled him to write satire he
puts first of all his disgust at the popular poetry of the day, and at the recitations on
hackneyed mythological subjects to which he is compelled to listen. He has heard enough of
Theseus, Jason, and Orestes; he is bored by perpetual descriptions of the grove of Mars,
of the cave of Aeolus, and of the exploits of Monychus. He prefers to deal with realities;
he must describe the men of his own time:
Whatever passions have the soul possessed,
Whatever wild desires inflamed the breast,
Joy, Sorrow, Fear, Love, Hatred, Transport, Rage,
Shall form the motley subject of my page.
(Gifford's Version of i. 85, 86.)
Precisely similar is the disgust expressed by Martial at the mawkish mythological
poetry of his day:
Qui legis Oedipoden caligantemque Thyesten,
Colchidas et Scyllas, quid nisi monstra legis?
Quid te vana iuvant miserae ludibria cartae?
Hoc lege, quod possit dicere vita, Meum est.
Non hic Centauros, non Gorgonas Harpyiasque
Invenies: hominem pagina nostra sapit.
(Epp. x. iv. 1-2, 7-10.)
Juvenal and Martial may thus be said to have developed a school of practical poetry.
Just as Socrates is said to have called down the attention of men from the heavens to the
earth, so did Juvenal and Martial call men from the barren repetition of mythological
tales and fancies, and the no less barren field of rhetorical declamation, to describing
the life of men as lived in their own time and city.
Juvenal ends his 1st Satire with the announcement that he is not to follow the example
of Lucilius in attacking his contemporaries; his shafts are to be directed, not against
the living, but against the dead. This is not to be taken merely as a sign of caution on
Juvenal's part, as though he were afraid of rousing resentments like those aroused by
Lucilius, but is rather an indication that his main purpose is to expose the vices and
follies of the day, not to attack the individuals who had committed them. He is to be a
preacher of morality, not a chastiser of persons. And this promise is to a large extent
made good. Juvenal makes no effort to describe or ridicule individual characters, nor did
he possess the special talent for the purpose. His subject, no doubt, requires him
frequently to quote names; but such names are usually given merely as typical of some
special kind of failing. They are taken either from books, or from persons who had in some
way or other made themselves notorious ; some of them may have been invented for the
occasion. In no case do we recognise any special feeling of animosity against the person
named; nowhere can we discover any trace of that personal vindictiveness which sharpens
the point, and impairs the truthfulness, of so much of our most famous modern satire. And
Juvenal's most exaggerated invectives are relieved by the feeling that they are the
sincere outpourings of that saeva indignatio which has so often been coupled with
In his 2nd Satire Juvenal attacks false philosophers--men who, while exhibiting in
public the stern looks and uncouth manners of Stoics, practise the worst vices in secret.
It is characteristic of Juvenal that he quotes as instances of the worst depravity the
fact that a Roman noble wore clothes of almost transparent texture, and that the Emperor
Otho used cosmetics and carried with him a mirror as part of his paraphernalia for war.
The 3rd Satire, from an artistic point of view, is perhaps Juvenal's finest
performance. It contains a brilliant picture of the living Rome of his day, of its sights
and sounds, its physical dangers and annoyances, its luxury and its meanness, its
wearisome social observances, and of the intolerable inequalities which made it impossible
for a poor man with any self respect to continue any longer to live in it.
In lines 18-20 we find a charming indication of the poet's natural good taste when he
exclaims how much nearer to us would be the spirit of Egeria "if her fountain were
fringed by a margin of green grass, and there were no marble ornament to outrage the
The 4th Satire is of a lighter kind; it is in the nature of a skit upon the solemn
importance with which an exacting emperor like Domitian might invest the most frivolous
act of obsequious flatterers. A turbot of huge size is sent up as a present to the
emperor, who at once summons a meeting of his cabinet council to consider how the fish is
to be treated.
The 5th Satire, in a tone of bitter irony, gives us the most perfect picture we possess
of the manner in which a patron of the Imperial times might discharge the old historical
duty of entertaining his clients. The picture is taken from the life; and we cannot doubt
that Juvenal had experienced in his own person the humiliations which he describes.
Nothing can be more revolting, nothing more repugnant to every idea of hospitality, than
the manner in which the host Virro entertains his guest, who as a full reward for faithful
daily service receives at length the long-hoped-for invitation to dinner. He sits, or
rather reclines, at the same table, but on a lower couch. He is subjected to every kind of
indignity at the hands both of the host and of his menial attendants. For every course a
different and inferior dish is served to the client; so also with the drink. It is not
that Virro grudges the expense of the entertainment; it is his deliberate object to insult
his client, and he rejoices in his humiliation.
The longest, the most elaborate, and the most brilliant of Juvenal's Satires is the
6th, which puts before us, in long procession, a Dream of Unlovely Women.
What, Postumus? Are you, in your sober senses, going to take to yourself a wife? Do you
not know that Chastity has fled this earth? She may have stayed with us in Saturn's time,
and perhaps lingered awhile under Jupiter before he grew his beard, in the days when men
still made their home in caves, and when wives spread couches of leaves and beast-skins on
the mountain-side. But know you not that since the Silver Age came in adultery has been
all the vogue? Are you actually thinking of making a marriage contract and presenting an
engagement ring? By what Fury are you possessed? Have you no halter by you? is there no
high window from which you can take a leap? (1-37.)
And is Ursidius, once the most notorious of gallants, preparing to obey the Julian law
and to rear an heir? ready to forgo all the turtles and mullets and other dainties which
his childlessness now brings him in? Bleed the simpleton, ye doctors, if he thinks he can
find a virtuous wife; if he finds one, let him sacrifice a heifer with gilded horns to
Juno! Why, nowadays a wife would sooner be contented with one eye than with one husband!
Can you, in all the tiers of the circus or the theatre, find a single honest woman?
Women love the stage; if you marry a wife it will be to make a father of some harpist or
flute-player. Or perhaps, like Eppia, the Senator's wife, she will run off to Egypt with a
gladiator, leaving home and husband and sister, and brave all the perils of the deep. Had
her husband bidden her go on board a ship, she would have deemed it an act of cruelty; no
woman has boldness but for acts of shame! (60-135.)
If a husband believes in his wife's virtue, it is because of the dowry that she has
brought him; the Cupid that inflamed him was in her money-bags! If he love her for her
beauty, she will lord it over him as long as that lasts, and ruin him by her extravagance;
once her charms are faded, he will put her to the door. If, again, she be virtuous,
comely, rich, fertile, and high-born, what husband can endure a woman who is all
perfection, and is for ever casting her high qualities in his teeth? Away with your high
ancestry, Cornelia! away with your Hannibal, your Syphax, and your Carthage! Remember the
fate of Niobe! (136-183.)
How nauseous is the female habit of using Greek for every act and circumstance of life!
Women now do everything, even their loves, in Greek. You might forgive it in a girl; but
what can be more revolting than to hear Greek terms of endearment in the mouth of an old
If you marry without love, why marry at all? Why be at the expense of a marriage-feast
and all the other costs of matrimony? If you are really and truly in love with your wife,
then bow your head submissively to the yoke. She will take full toll of you; she will
rejoice in stripping you bare; she will do all your buying and your selling for you; she
will show your old friends to the door, and make you leave legacies to her lovers. She
will crucify your slaves for little or no offence; if you expostulate, and plead for
delay, she will tell you "It is my will; the thing must be done!" In the end she
will leave you, and wear out her veil in other bridals. What think you of one who ran
through eight husbands in five seasons? (200-230.)
No hope of peace so long as your mother-in-law is alive. She rejoices to see you
fleeced; she helps her daughter in her intrigues, and teaches her to be like herself.
Women are desperately litigious; never yet was there a lawsuit which did not have a
woman at the bottom of it. If Manilia is not a defendant, she is a plaintiff; she
instructs her learned counsel how to adjust his pleas. (231-245.)
Then there is the athletic woman, with her wrappers and her ointments, her belts,
greaves, and gauntlets; puffing and blowing all the time, she belabours a stump with
wooden sword or shield; and though her skin is so delicate that she must needs wear
garments of silk, she goes through all the exercises, all the attitudes and postures, of
the gymnasium. What gladiator's wife would stoop to do the like ? (246-267.)
The connubial couch is ever full of bickerings and reproaches: no sleep to be got
there! It is there that the wife assails her husband with the fury of a tigress that has
lost her whelps; she rakes up every imaginary grievance against him, and has always floods
of tears at her command; he, poor fool, imagines they are tears of love. If she herself be
caught in a delinquency, she brazens it out: "We agreed," says she, "that
you should go your way and I mine." (268-285.)
Whence came all these monstrosities among us? When Latian homes were poor and humble,
when hands were hard with toil, when Hannibal was thundering at our gates, our homes were
pure; Roman virtue perished along with Roman poverty. Long peace and enervating riches
have been our ruin, pouring all the corruptions of Rhodes, Miletus, and Tarentum into our
city. Little wonder that we have deserted the simple rites of Numa and adopted the foul
practices of the Good Goddess! (286-351.)
Ogulnia wishes to make a show at the games: she hires a gown, a litter and followers,
with a maid to run her messages; she presents to some smooth-skinned athlete the last
remnants of the family plate. Such women never think what their pleasures cost them; men
sometimes have an eye to economy, women never. (352-365.)
If your wife have a taste for music, she will abandon herself to the musicians; her
bejewelled fingers will for ever be strumming on their instruments; she offers wine and
meal to Janus and to Vesta that her Pollio may win a crown of oak-leaves. You Gods must
have much time upon your hands if you can listen to prayers like these! (379-397.)
Better that, however, than that your wife should be a busybody, running about the town
and discussing the news with generals, and in her husband's presence, unabashed; she knows
everything that is taking place in every corner of the globe; she retails every scandal of
the town; she picks up the latest rumours at the city gates; she knows what countries are
being devastated by floods, what disasters comets are boding to the kings of Parthia and
Armenia, and repeats her tales to every man and woman in the street. (398-412.)
More terrible still is the termagant, who loves to lash her poor neighbours; when a dog
disturbs her slumbers, she orders the owner to be thrashed first, and then the dog. She
enters the baths noisily by night, works at the dumbbells till she is wearied, and then
submits herself to the bathman for massage. Meanwhile her famished guests have been
wearying for their dinner; when at last she arrives, she slakes her thirst with bumpers of
Falernian, which soon find their way back on to the floor. (413-433.)
No less of a nuisance is your learned lady, who discourses on poetry, and pits Homer
and Virgil against each other. She outbawls all the rhetoricians with her din; she could
unaided bring succour to the labouring moon. She lays down definitions like a philosopher;
she should tuck up her skirts half-leg high, sacrifice a pig to Silvanus, and take a penny
bath! She knows all history, quotes poets that I never heard of; she has every trick of
speech at her fingers' ends, and will pull you up for the smallest slip in grammar. Take
no such wife to your bosom! (434-456.)
Still more unbearable is the wealthy wife, who thinks that everything is permitted to
her. Her neck, her ears, are resplendent with precious stones; she plasters her face with
bread-poultices and Poppaean pastes which stick to her husband's lips when he gives her a
kiss. She never cares to look well at home; it is for lovers only that a clean skin and
Indian perfumes are reserved. In due time she washes off the layers with asses' milk, and
the face can be recognised as a face instead of as a sore! (457-473.)
If the husband has been neglectful, the maids will suffer for it; the slightest fault
will bring down a thrashing on them with whip or cane; some women engage their floggers by
the year. The lady meanwhile is making up her face, or chatting with her friends, or
examining a piece of embroidery, or reading the Gazette: not less cruel than Phalaris, she
keeps her flogger at it all the time. If in a hurry to keep an assignation, she wreaks her
vengeance on her tirewoman with a thong of bull's hide for every curl out of place, while
the second maid builds up the lofty erection on her head: so serious is the art of
beautification! so complicated the artistic structure! Not a thought for the husband all
this time; he is only a little nearer to her than a next-door neighbour; she heeds not
what she costs him. (474-511.)
Another is the prey of every superstition. In come the noisy crew of the frantic
Bellona and the Good Goddess, clanging their cymbals; they pay reverence to the huge
emasculated priest; to avert his prophecies of evil, she presents him with a hundred eggs,
and some cast-off clothing: these carry off the threatened peril and purify her for the
entire year. In winter-time she breaks the ice for a plunge into the Tiber, and then
crawls with bleeding knees over the Campus Martius. At Io's bidding--for she believes that
the Goddess herself holds commune with her--she would go on a pilgrimage to Egypt to bring
water from Lake Meroe with which to besprinkle the shrine of Isis. She pays reverence to
the dog-headed Anubis, with his close-cropped and linen-clad followers; a fat goose and a
thin cake will obtain from Osiris absolution for all her peccadilloes. (511-541.)
Next comes a Jewish hag, leaving her basket and her hay, who whispers secrets into her
ear, expounding the holy laws of her tribe: she interprets or invents dreams for the
smallest of coins. An Armenian or Syrian soothsayer, manipulating a pigeon's liver,
promises her a youthful lover, or the inheritance of some rich and childless man. He
probes the entrails of a dog, sometimes even of a boy, committing a crime that he may
himself turn informer. But most trusted of all is the Chaldaean, whose words come direct
from the fount of Hammon--more especially if he have done something to deserve exile and
narrowly escaped death. Your virtuous Tanaquil consults him about the too long delayed
death of her mother or her uncle--having first enquired about your own death. Such a one
knows nothing about the stars; but beware of the woman in whose hand you see a
well-thumbed almanack, and who claims to be an expert; she is herself consulted, and
regulates her whole life after the dictates of the occult science. Rich women consult a
Phrygian or an Indian augur; the poor woman looks for a diviner in the Circus, of whom she
enquires whether she shall marry the tavern-keeper or the old-clothesman. (542-591.)
Poor women will bear the pangs of childbirth; but you will rarely find a woman lying-in
who sleeps in a gilded bed. So potent are the draughts of the abortionist! Hand the potion
to her yourself, my man, and rejoice in the murder of your unborn children: you might
otherwise find yourself the father of a blackamoor. If an heir be wanted for some great
house, roguish Fortune knows where to look for one: she takes her stand by night at the
foundling pool, dandles a chance infant in her arms, and spirits it away into some lordly
house to become a Pontifex or a Priest of Mars! (592-609.)
Instructed by Thessalian witches, a wife will make her husband imbecile or raving mad
with a magical love philtre: just as Caesonia's potion robbed Nero's uncle of his
senses. More guilty she than Agrippina: for Agrippina did but "send down to
heaven" a slobbering dotard, whereas Caesonia's medicament slew knights and senators
together, and turned the whole world upside down with fire and the sword. (610-626.)
To kill a stepson is now thought quite in order; beware, ye wards, if ye have wealth:
keep an eye upon your stepmother's cakes, and let her cup be tasted before you put it to
your lips. Do you suppose that I am telling mere idle tales, breathing forth mouthings
like a tragedian? Would to heaven it were so! but just look at the case of Pontia, who was
caught in the act: "I did it," she confessed; "with my own hands. I gave
aconite to my boys." "What, you viper? you slew two of them at one meal?"
"Ay; and seven too had there been seven to slay!" (627-642.)
Tragedy, indeed, tells us of the crimes of Procne and the Colchian; I seek not to deny
them. But they sinned in wrath, not for filthy lucre's sake: what I cannot abide is the
calculated crime, committed calmly in cold blood. Women flock to see Alcestis dying for
her husband; but your modern woman would let her husband go to Hades if she could save her
lapdog! Daughters of Danaus are to be found in plenty among us; every street in Rome
contains its Clytemnestra; the only difference is that she made use of a clumsy two-bladed
axe, while these women do the trick with the liver of a toad--and perhaps with a knife, if
their lord have fortified himself with antidotes! (643-661.)
The 7th Satire promises a good time for letters and learning from the expected
patronage of the new emperor, and is mainly taken up with bewailing the miserable
prospects of all the literary professions. The good old days of patronage are gone; the
wealthy pay no respect to letters, or assist them only in ways that involve no cost to
themselves; the only patronage worth having nowadays is the favour of a popular
play-actor. The poet, the historian, the advocate, the rhetorician, the grammarian-all
have the same tale of neglect and poverty to tell, whereas singers and jockeys are
splendidly rewarded. The teacher's profession, which is the noblest, and the most
deserving of respect, of all the professions, fares worst of all; there is no money that a
father grudges so much as that spent in the education of his son.
The 8th Satire is an attack upon pride of birth. Though there is no one who has more
respect for the blood of the great old Roman houses than Juvenal himself, he discourses
eloquently on the theme nobilitas sola est atque unica virtus. No man, no animal,
can be called high-born whose breeding is not proclaimed by the possession of high
qualities. A man must stand or fall by his own qualities, not by those of his ancestors.
Be a stout soldier, an honest guardian, and an impartial arbiter; prefer honour to life;
if called to govern a province, be just and tender-hearted to the provincials. If your
wife be blameless, and you have no corrupt favourite in your suite, you may trace your
lineage to the loftiest source you please; but if you are carried headlong by ambition,
lust and cruelty, the noble blood of your ancestors rises up in judgment against you, and
throws a dazzling light upon your misdeeds. What think you of the noble Lateranus, who
drives his own chariot along the public way unabashed, and frequents low taverns, where he
consorts with thieves, coffin-makers, and cut-throats? And what are we to say of a
Damasippus or a Lentulus, who hire out their voices to the stage?--though, indeed, who
might not be a mime when an emperor has turned lutist?--and worse still, have we not seen
the noble Gracchus in the arena, not fighting with helm and shield and sword, but with a
trident and a net in his hand? See how he has missed his cast, and lifts his face for all
to see as he flies along the arena ! Orestes, you say, was a parricide, like Nero; but
Orestes slew no wife, no sister: he never sang upon the stage, he never wrote an epic upon
Troy! And of all his crimes, which deserved greater punishment than that?
Whose blood could be nobler than that of Catiline or Cethegus? Yet they conspired to
destroy the city; and it was the plebeian Cicero that preserved it. The plebeian Marius
saved her from the Cimbri and the Teutones; the plebeian Decii saved our legions from the
hosts of Latium; and the best king of Rome was a slave-girl's son.
The 9th Satire deals with a disgusting offence, one of the main sources of corruption
in the ancient world.
The 10th Satire has been often called Juvenal's masterpiece; it has had the honour of
being paraphrased by Johnson in his "Vanity of Human Wishes," and it has all the
merits of a full-blown rhetorical declamation. It has some magnificent descriptions,
especially that of the fall of the favourite Sejanus. But it is a profoundly depressing
and pessimistic poem. Except in the last few lines, there is not a word of hope or
encouragement for the ordinary human being; no sense that any kind of life can be worth
living; not one word of counterpoise to the long, dismal catalogue of human failures; no
suggestion that in great lives which have ended in disaster there may have been moments of
noble action, high endeavour and inspiration. The description of old age is revolting in
its minuteness, and it is not relieved by a single touch of sympathy or kindliness. The
text of the whole is
Quid tam dextro pede concipis ut te
Conatus non paeniteat votique peracti?
Our wishes, our prayers, are all equally vain. If you lust for riches, think of the
fate of a Lateranus, a Seneca, or a Longinus; even in days of primitive simplicity, man's
follies provoked the tears of Heracleitus and the laughter of Democritus. Some men are
brought to ruin by their lust of place and power, like Pompey, the Crassi, and Sejanus;
others, like Cicero and Demosthenes, by the fatal gift of eloquence. The glories of war
end in misery and disaster--look at the calamitous ends of Hannibal, of Xerxes, and
Alexander! Men pray for long life; but old age does but bring with it a host of miseries
and infirmities, ending in the loss of reason. What calamities had Nestor, Peleus, and
Priam to go through because of their length of days! What disasters would have been
escaped by Marius and Pompey, what glory might not have been theirs, had they died
The loving mother prays that her children may have beauty; but when did modesty and
beauty go together? The fair maiden, the fair youth, live in a world of peril and of
snares. Hippolytus and Bellerophon warn us that even purity has its dangers; and what was
the end of the fair and high-born youth who became a victim to the passion of Messalina?
Better leave it to the Gods to determine what is best for you and for your state; man
is dearer to them than he is to himself. But if you must needs pray for something, ask for
things which you can give yourself: ask for a stout heart that fears not death; ask for
power to endure; ask for a heart that knows not anger and desire, and deems that all the
woes of Hercules are better than the soft cushions of Sardanapalus. These things you can
bestow on yourself, and snap your fingers at the strokes of Fortune!
The 11th Satire consists of two parts. It begins with an account of the folly of
gourmands of slender means, who ruin themselves for the pleasures of the table, forgetful
of the golden rule G n w ^q i s e a u t 'o n , which warns a man to know his tether, in finance as well as in
other things, and not buy a mullet when he has only a gudgeon in his purse (1-55). This
serves as a prelude to the second part of the Satire, in which the poet invites his friend
Persicus to a genial but simple feast, the delicacies of which are to be furnished from
the homely produce of his Tiburtine farm--such a feast as was served on simple ware to
regale the consuls and dictators of the olden time. There will be no rich plate no costly
furniture, no silver, no handles of ivory, no professional carver, no Phrygian or Lycian
Ganymede to hand you your cup. Two simple country-clad lads will serve the table; no
wanton dancing girls will be provided for your entertainment; only Homer and Virgil will
be read. And our enjoyment will be all the greater that we can hear the roars of the
circus in the distance, and hug ourselves in the delights of a rare and peaceful holiday
In his 12th Satire Juvenal celebrates the narrow escape from shipwreck of his friend
Catullus. A terrible storm had compelled him to cut away the mast and to throw overboard
all the treasures of his cargo. But at length the storm abates, and Catullus with his crew
arrive safe and sound in the new Ostian harbour. Juvenal then offers a sacrifice of
thanksgiving for his friend's safety--no mercenary offering this for a rich and childless
friend, seeing that Catullus has three little sons of his own. This leads the poet to have
his fling at the wiles of legacy-hunters, some of whom would be ready to sacrifice a
hecatomb of elephants (if elephants were to be had), or even to offer an Iphigenia of
their own, in order to secure a place in a rich man's will.
The elephant passage is singularly cumbrous and out of place.
The 13th is the noblest of Juvenal's Satires. It takes the form of a consolatory
epistle to Calvinus, who has bcen defrauded of a sum of ten thousand sesterces by the
dishonesty of the friend to whom it had been entrusted. In offering him consolation, the
poet not only uses all the arguments of robust common sense, but also in his concluding
passages he may be said to reach the high-water mark of pre-Christian ethics: there is at
least one notable pronouncement which seems to breathe the very spirit of the Gospel.
Every guilty deed brings its own punishment along with it; no guilty man can escape at
the bar of his own conscience. Your loss is one of every-day occurrence; has experience
not taught you to bear the smallest of misfortunes? Crime of every kind is rampant amongst
us; honest men are not more numerous than the mouths of the Nile; it is mere simplicity to
expect any man nowadays to abstain from perjury. In the days of Saturn, before the heavens
were crowded with their present mob of divinities: in the days when youth stood up to
reverence old age, dishonesty was a marvel to be wondered at; but in these days, if a man
acknowledges a trust, and restores the purse entrusted to him, I deem him a prodigy. I
liken him to a shower of stones, or to a pregnant mule, or to a river running white with
milk. What if some other man have lost ten times as much as you? So easy is it to escape
the notice of heaven if no man be privy to the guilty deed! Some men disbelieve in divine
wrath; others believe in it, but will take the risk, provided they can secure the cash:
punishment they argue, may perhaps never come after all! Granted that loss of money is the
greatest of human calamities, what right have you to deem yourself outside the common lot
of man, as though hatched from a white and lucky egg? Look at the list of crimes daily
brought before the Court and dare to call yourself unfortunate! Who wonders at a swollen
neck in the Alps, or at blue eyes and yellow hair in a German?
But is the perjured wretch to go unpunished? you ask. Well, if the man's life were
taken, that would not bring back your money; and when you tell me that vengeance is
sweeter than life itself, I tell you that none think so but the ignorant, and that of all
pleasures vengeance is the meanest. You may judge of it by this, that no one so delights
in it as a woman!
But why fancy that such men escape punishment when conscience is for ever wielding its
unseen, unheard lash over their guilty souls? What punishment of Caedicius or Rhadamanthus
can be so terrible as that of having to carry one's own accusing witness, by day and by
night, within one's breast? Truly spoke the Pythian oracle when it condemned the man who
returned a deposit, not for conscience' sake, but from fear; for the man who meditates a
crime within his heart has all the guiltiness of the deed. If he accomplishes the deed, he
is never free from anguish; the choicest viands, the finest wines, offend his taste; when
his tossed limbs at length sink to rest, he has visions of the temple and the altar by
which he has forsworn himself; your image, larger than life, rises up before him and
compels him to confess. These are the men who tremble at every lightning-flash; they
believe that every rumbling in the sky, every sickness they have, is a sign of the wrath
of heaven and betokens future punishment. And yet they will not mend their ways; what man
was ever content with a single sin? So you may take comfort from this: your enemy will sin
once again, and more openly: his fate will be the prison or the halter; you will rejoice
in his punishment, and enjoy your vengeance after all !
The theme of the 14th Satire is that parental example is the most potent of educational
instruments. The father who gambles, or gormandises, or cruelly abuses his slaves, is
instructing his son in his own vices; the mother who has paramours teaches her daughter to
be unfaithful; clothed with parental authority, such examples cannot be resisted. Let
fathers therefore see to it that no foul sight be seen, no foul word be heard, within
their doors; let them respect their child's tender years, let their infant son forbid the
When you expect a guest, your household are set to work to clean and scrub, that no
foul spot may offend the stranger's eye: and will you not bestir yourself that your son
may see nothing but what is pure and spotless within his home? The stork, the vulture, the
eagle all follow in the ways pointed out to them in the parental nest. Cretonius half
ruined himself by building; his son completed the ruin by building grander and more
sumptuous mansions. If the father keeps the Sabbath, the son will carry his superstition
further still; he will flout the laws of Rome, and observe the secret rites and practices
The one and only vice which the young practise unwillingly is that of avarice, since it
has a spurious appearance of virtue. Hence fathers take double pains, both by precept and
example, to instil the love of money into their sons; they practise the meanest economies
that they may be wealthy when they die. Our hardy ancestors, broken by wounds and years,
deemed themselves happy with a reward of two acres, which to-day would not be thought big
enough for a garden. In the hurry to be rich no law is regarded, no crime stops the way.
Foreign purple has banished the hardy contentment of the old Marsian and Hernican heroes,
and opened the door to every villainy. When the father bids his son rise at midnight to
seek for gain, telling him that lucre smells sweet whatever the source from which it
comes, he is instructing him to cheat, to cozen, and to forswear himself; ay, and the
disciple will soon outstrip his teacher.
It is as good as a play to watch how men will brave perils of storm and tempest to
increase their pile of cash; not for mere livelihood, like the rope-dancer, but just to
store up little pieces of gold and silver stamped with tiny images! Such a man is fit only
for a mad-house; one day the storm will engulf his goods, and he will have to support
himself by a painted shipwreck.
To guard great riches is as burdensome a task as to acquire them; better be lodged like
Diogenes, who, if his tub were broken, could have it mended or replaced to-morrow. If you
ask how much money should suffice, I would bid you have enough to keep out cold and
hunger; add as much as would make up the fortune of a knight; if that be too beggarly,
make it double, or treble the amount: if that suffice you not, then will not your soul be
satisfied with all the wealth of Croesus or Narcissus!
The 15th Satire gives an account of a fierce fight between the inhabitants of two
neighbouring townships in Egypt, Ombi and Tentyra. In the course of the battle a fleeing
Tentyrite slipped and fell; his body was at once torn into pieces and devoured by the
bloodthirsty Ombites. Juvenal furiously denounces the crime; and it gives him the
opportunity, in a beautiful and pathetic passage, of declaring that the tenderness of
heart evinced by the capacity to shed tears is the noblest and most beautiful of the
characteristics of man; it is the power of sympathy between man and man that has built up
all the elements of human civilisation.
The 16th Satire, which is only half finished, is taken up with recounting the various
privileges enjoyed by the military. No civilian can get justice against a soldier; and
soldiers have special privileges in regard to property.
 i.e. take a public bath along with the men.
 Caesonia was Caligula's wife. Agrippina was supposed to have poisoned her
uncle-husband Claudius, and so won for him divinity.
 i.e. wives who murder their husbands.
THE MSS. OF JUVENAL
The text on which this translation is mainly based is that of Bücheler's edition of
1893. That text had the merit of giving the first complete account of the readings of P
(the Codex Pithoeanus), the most important and best of all the MSS. of Juvenal.
Since then, however, has appeared the notable critical edition of Housman (1905), who,
without contesting the general superiority of P over the multitude of interpolated MSS.,
has shown that it cannot be accepted as a sole and infallible guide. He protests
vigorously against the indolent style of criticism which, having discovered one MS. to be
the best available, sticks to it through thick and thin without exercising an independent
judgment upon it, and accepts, almost blindfold, any reading presented by that MS. which
is not absolutely impossible. In the case of Juvenal, Housman proposes to arrest the
current by which the text of each succeeding edition of Juvenal stands closer to that of
P, and produces much solid evidence to show, in many cases, that the readings of P, even
when possible both in Latinity and in sense, will not stand criticism, and that the
readings of other MSS. are to be preferred to them.
The Pithoeanus is by no means a very ancient MS. It dates from the end of the ninth
century, having been first used by P. Pithoeus in the year 1585. It was lost for a long
time, but was rediscovered in the middle of the nineteenth century and first published by
Otto Jahn in his edition of 1851. It contains many corrections by later hands, designated
by the letter p; these corrections are mostly of little value, being derived from
one or other of the host of interpolated MSS. known generally under the title of w . Housman goes so far as to assert that p should be quoted
for one purpose and for one purpose only, to enable us to judge what the reading of P was not.
Shortly put, the description of the MSS. of Juvenal given by Housman is as follows:
The great merit of P is that it has escaped, almost entirely, the deluge of
interpolation which has flooded the great majority of Juvenalian MSS., but it is not
itself entirely free from corruption. One source of corruption is that its original
readings have been often corrected by later hands from the tenth century onwards. These
corrections, indicated by the letter p, are for the most part taken from one or
other of the mass of inferior interpolated MSS., but their faults can sometimes be
repaired from other sources which are more closely allied to P itself.
Apart from P and the host of interpolated MSS. stand three important fragmentary
sources, viz.: (1) Scidae Arovienses, consisting of five leaves found at Aarau in 1880;
(2) the Florilegium Sangallense; (3) third, and most important, are the lemmata of the
ancient scholia, which often contain the correct reading of P which has been corrupted in
the text by p.
Over against P and its small cluster of kinsfolk stand the several hundreds of
Juvenal's vulgar MSS. dating from the ninth century to the sixteenth, infected one and all
with a plague of interpolation from which P and its fellows are exempt. Halfway between
the two camps (older than P, and not much interpolated) lies a considerable fragment, the
Codex Vindobonensis of the ninth century, containing i. 1 to ii. 59 and ii. 107 to v. 96.
After these Housman selects seven MSS. of the interpolated class, which he calls A, F, G,
L, O, T, U, and from which a true reading or its traces are occasionally to be found. To
these MSS. collectively he gives the name of y , and as a
result of his examination of them he has pointed out a number of passages in which the
true reading is to be found in one or more of these MSS., and as many more in which their
readings are to be preferred to those of P. For conspicuous instances of mistakes made by
P in verbal forms see ix. 41, x. 312, xi. 184, xiv. 113.
Apart from all other MSS. stands the fragment, the palimsestus Bobiensis now in the
Vatican. It is assigned to the end of the fourth century, and contains xiv. 324-xv. 43. It
sometimes agrees with P, sometimes with other MSS.
Lastly come the ancient Scholia called S , and preserved in
P. They are very old and often indicate a true reading not in the MSS.
In the year 1910, Frederick Leo brought out a fifth edition of Bücheler's text not
differing much from the edition of 1893 except by recognising for the first time the
genuineness of the passage in Sat. vi. (O 1-34, coming immediately after line 365)
discovered in the Bodleian MS. by E. O. Winstedt in the year 1899. The more important of
the changes introduced by Leo are mentioned in the critical notes.
 The above description of the MSS. of Juvenal is abbreviated from Housmann's
Introduction, pp. vii to xi; see also pp. xvii sqq. and xxii sqq.
THE MSS. OF PERSIUS
The text of Persius is in a much better condition than that of Juvenal; Mr. S. G. Owen
declares that it is probably purer than that of any other Roman writer, and stands in no
need of the art of conjecture. Amid a multitude of MSS. three stand out of conspicuous
merit; the Montpellier, 212 (A); the Vatican, H. 36 (B); and the Montpellier, 125 (P),
also known by the name Pithoeanus, being the same MS. which contains also the whole of
Of these three MSS., all dating from the ninth century, A and B are so closely allied
that they are evidently drawn from a common source. The sign a denotes the agreement of these two MSS.
Where A and P differ, Bücheler, in his edition of 1893, gives the superiority to P; F.
Leo, in the 4th edition (1910), calls in the assistance of the Laurentian MS. 37. 19 (L),
of the eleventh century, which occasionally preserves the true reading where both A and P
are manifestly wrong (e.g. peronatus, v. 102; crasso, vi. 40; ritu,
vi. 59; exit, vi. 68). L shares some corruptions with P, and some with a ; but on the whole it is more closely allied to a.
Most ancient of all is the Fragmentum Bobiense of the fourth century, which
contains Pers. i. 53-104, and Juv. xiv. 323-xv. 43.
Owen takes P as his first authority; he follows A B P when they agree, and prefers P
when they disagree, correcting palpable mistakes from A B. Owen adds to his list
Oxoniensis, in the Bodleian Library (O) of the tenth century, and Cantabrigiensis, in the
Trinity College Library O. iv. 10 (T), which is also of the tenth century.
 Preface to his edition of Persius anal Juvenal, Clarendon Press, 1907.
The editions of Juvenal are innumerable. Those which have been found the most useful
are the following:
G. A. Ruperti, 1801 and 1825.
C. F. Heinrich, 1839.
Dr. Stocker (including Persius), 1845.
Otto Jahn, 1851; re-edited by Bücheler (including Persius) in 1886, 1893, and by F.
Leo in 1910.
J. E. B. Mayor, 1853; enlarged in 1869, etc.
A. J. Macleane (including Persius), 1857.
G. A. Simcox (Catena Classicorum), 1867.
J. D. Lewis (with translation), 1879.
Pearson and Strong, Clarendon Press, 1887 and 1892.
L. Friedländer, 1895.
J. D. Duff, 1898, 1900, and 1914.
A. E. Housman, critical edition, 1905. 2nd. ed. 1931.
Valuable books on Juvenal and Persius are the following:
H. Nettleship, Lectures and Essays, Second Series, 1895, Arts. II. and V.
Friedländer, Sittengeschichte Roms, 1869.
J. W. Duff, A Literary history of Rome in the Silver Age, 1927.
Tyrrell, Latin Poetry, pp. 216-259.
H. E. Butler, Post-Augustan Poetry, 1900, pp. 79-96, and 287-320.
C. Martha, Les Moralistes sous l'Empire Romain, 8th ed. 1907.
A. Vidal, Juvenal et ses Satires, 1869.
Merivale's History of the Romans under the Empire. Vol. VII., Chap. lxiv.
S. Dill, Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius, 1904, Chap. ii.
J. W. Duff, Roman Satire, 1937.
As might be expected with such popular authors, Juvenal and Persius have been
frequently translated, and into many languages. The most famous translations of both
authors into English verse are the quaint version of Holyday (1673) and the vigorous and
scholarly version of Gifford (1802), which may still be read with pleasure. Dryden has
translated five of Juvenal's Satires, and the whole of Persius, into the true Drydenic
style; and Johnson has achieved immortality by his inimitable translation-or rather
paraphrase-of Sat. iii., under the title London, and of Sat. x.,
under the title The Vanity of Human Wishes. Of prose translations of Juvenal
especial mention may be made of the translation of thirteen Satires (omitting ii, vi, and
ix) by S. G. Owen (Clarendon Press, 1903), of the same by Strong and Leeper (Macmillan,
1882), also a revised version by Leeper alone (Macmillan, 1912), and of that by J. D.
Lewis (1879). S. H. Jeyes has translated the whole of the sixteen Satires (1885), as also
the Rev. S. Evans (1869) (Bohn's Library).
Of the numerous editions of Persius the most famous is the great Classical Edition of
Isaac Casaubon (Paris, 1605), which has been often reprinted, and which has served as a
groundwork of all subsequent editions of the poet. Among later editions may especially be
mentioned those of G. L. Koenig (1803 and 1825); Otto Jahn (1843), included with Juvenal
in the edition re-edited by Bücheler and Leo; C. F. Heinrich (1844); A. J. Macleane
(along with Juvenal) (1857); above all that of J. Conington (ed. Nettleship, 1872); and A.
Pretor (Catena Classicorum) (1868); cf. also Gildersleeve (1875); Santi
Consoli (1911); Van Wageningen (1911); Villeneuve (1918); Ramorino (1920); Cartault (with
French translation; 1920, 1929).
In translating Persius the translator has paid the greatest attention to the well-known
translation of J. Conington, which is by far the best existing version of that author. We
now have also that of J. Tate (1930).
MSS. OF JUVENAL GIVEN IN HOUSMAN'S EDITION, 1905
Bob.=codicis Bobiensis, Vaticani 5750, fragmentum.
P=codex Pithoeanus, Montepessulanus 125.
p=codicis Pithoeani corrector.
flor.Sang.=codicis Sangallensis 870 florilegium.
S=lemmata scholiorum in P et Sang. 870 seruatorum.
Vind.=codex Vindobonensis 107, mutilus.
y =codices AFGLOTU vel eorum plures.
A=codex Monacensis 408.
F=codex Parisiensis 8071.
G=codex Parisiensis 7900A.
L=codex Leidensis 82.
O=codex Canonicianus class. Lat. 41, Bodleianus.
T=codex 0, IV, 10 collegii Trinitatis, Cantabrigiensis.
U=codex Vrbinas 661, Vaticanus.
S =scholiastes in P et Sang. 870 seruatus.
MSS. OF PERSIUS AS GIVEN IN BUECHELER'S FOURTH EDITION REVISED BY F. LEO, 1910
P=codex Montepessulanus 125.
A=codex Montepessulanus 212. }
} a .
B=codex Vaticanus tabularii basilicae H 36 }
L=codex Laurentianus 37, 19.
P1P2 distinguit librarium a correctore, Pa scripturam ab ipso librario correctam
significat. item de ABL.
E=folium Bobiense (1,53-104).
j =codices alii vetusti, V recentes.