The satires of Juvenal

by Juvenal

Other authorsRolfe Humphries (Translator)
Paperback, 1958





Bloomington, Indiana University Press, c1958.

User reviews

LibraryThing member aethercowboy
Juvenal, in his Satires presents us a view of Rome, and everything that was wrong with it during his day. Of course, most of the problems Rome faced then, most modern civilizations are facing today.

It’s interesting to read historical accounts, or even interpretations of the day (as is the case with Satires), and see the similarities. I’m not sure, though, if I should take comfort by this, as it may indicate that things shouldn’t get any worse, or if I should be scared, as it also might indicate that modern civilizations are headed in the same direction as Rome.

While not the most exciting read, definitely very insightful.
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LibraryThing member dangraves
Creekmore's easy-to-read translation inspired me to try my hand at satires of my own (now deservedly consigned to the trash). One sees in Juvenal's Rome the decadent characteristics of a declining society.
LibraryThing member stillatim
I've long been sceptical of contemporary novels that are advertized as satires. Consider Jonathan Coe's 'Rotters' Club,' which was okay, but compared even to a supposedly realistic novel like 'The Line of Beauty,' contained little satire beyond its propensity for pointing out that people ate some really bad food in the seventies. So I finally got around to reading Juvenal, and my scepticism has been gloriously affirmed: yes, satire can be really, really mean; it can be full of almost explosive moral indignation.

'For what is disgrace if he keeps the money?'
'What can I do in Rome? I can't tell lies!'
'Of all that luckless poverty involves, nothing is harsher/ than the fact that it makes people funny.'
'A poor man's rights are confined to this:/ having been pounded and punched to a jelly, to beg and implore/ that he may be allowed to go home with a few teeth in his head.'
'When power which is virtually equal/ to that of the gods is flattered, there's nothing it can't believe.'
'You must know the color of your own bread.'
'that which is coated and warmed with so many odd preparations... what shall we call it? A face, or an ulcer?'
'If somebody owns a dwarf, we call him/ Atlas; a negro, Swan; a bent and disfigured girl/ Europa. Curs that are listless, and bald from years of mange/ and lick the rim of an empty lamp for oil, are given/ the name of Leopard.'
'However far back you care to go in tracing your name/ the fact remains that your clan began in a haven for outlaws.'
'Do you think it's nice and easy to thrust a proper-sized penis/ into a person's guts, encountering yesterday's dinner?/ The slave who ploughs a field has a lighter task than the one/ who ploughs its owner.'
'Don't you attach any value to the fact that, had I not been/ a loyal and devoted client, your wife would still be a virgin?'
'Shame is jeered as she leaves the city.'
'The whole of Rome is inside the Circus.'
'What other man these days... could bear to prefer his life to his plate, and his soul to his money?'
'If I happen to find a totally honest man, I regard/ that freak as I would a baby centaur.'
'Tears are genuine when they fall at the loss of money.'

Not to mention the classics, 'it's hard not to write satire,' 'who watches the watchmen,' 'bread and circuses,' 'healthy mind in a healthy body' (all translated slightly differently here).

All of these are funnier or crueler in context.

Rudd's translation (in the Oxford World's Classics edition) seems solid; I haven't compared it to the Latin. He translates line for line, which I imagine will make it easier to follow the original language, and in a loose meter which allows him to make everything make sense. It's rarely pretty, but it is readable. And his notes are excellent.
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