Food : a suitable subject for Roman verse satire
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Junium Sabinum A. Junium Rusticum. Dodwell's chief argument to prove the late period at which Juvenal was banished, is a passage confessedly written under Domitian, and foisted into a satire published, as he himself maintains, many years after that emperor's death! Hoc ergo anno CXIX. To me they appear any thing but conclusive; for, to omit other objections for the present, why may not the Junius of the fifteenth Satire be the one who was Consul with Domitian in 84, when Juvenal, by Dodwell's own calculation, was in his 47th instead of his 80th year.
On this Dodwell observes: "Tam longe aberant illa a Paridis ira concitanda, si vel superstite Paride fuissent scripta, eum irritare non possent, cum nondum emanassent in publicum," He then adds that "Martial knew nothing of his poetical studies,  who boasted that he was as familiar with Juvenal as Pylades with Orestes!
Some one, it seems, had accused the epigrammatist to the satirist, not improbably, of making too free with his thoughts and expressions. He was seriously offended; and Martial, instead of justifying himself whatever the charge might be , imprecates shame on his accuser in a strain of idle rant not much above the level of a schoolboy.
But if he had been acquainted with his friend's poetry, he would certainly have spoken of it. Not quite so certainly. Were the Satires of Juvenal to be mentioned with approbation? Martial, the most devoted sycophant of the age, who was always begging, and sometimes receiving, favors from the man whose castigation was, in general, the express object of them. Is it not more consonant to his character to suppose that he would conceal his knowledge of them with the most scrupulous care? But when Domitian was dead, and Martial removed from Rome, when, in short, there was no danger of speaking out, he still appears, continue they, to be ignorant of his friend's poetic talents.
I am almost ashamed to repeat what the critics so constantly forget—that Juvenal was not only satirist, but a republican, who looked upon Trajan as a usurper, no less than Domitian. And how was it "safe to speak out," when they all assert that he was driven into banishment by a milder prince than Trajan, for a passage "suspected of being a figurative allusion to the times? Id supplicii genus placuit, ut levi atque joculari delicto par esset. Passing by the interpolations of the old grammarians, I shall, as before, have recourse to Dodwell.
Juvenal was now fourscore! Salmasius supposed that the last of his Satires only were published under Hadrian; Dodwell goes farther, and maintains that the whole, with the exception of the 15th and 16th  "si tamen vere et illa Juvenalis fuerit" , were then first produced! Inde exilii causa. Scripsit ergo in exilio Sat. Nec vero postea scripsisse, exinde colligimus, quod 'intra brevissimum tempus' perierit. Such is the manner in which Dodwell accommodates Suetonius to his own ideas: which seem, also, to have been those of a much higher name, Salmasius; and, while I am now writing, to be sanctioned by the adoption of the learned Ruperti.
I never affected singularity; yet I find myself constrained to differ from them all: but I will state my reasons. In his 7th Satire, after speaking of Quintilian, Juvenal adds,.
Which, taking it for a proverbial expression, I have loosely rendered, Fortune can make kings of pedants and pedants of kings. Dodwell, however, understands it literally. Now, as Pliny, who probably died before Trajan, observes that Quintilian was a man of moderate fortune, it follows that he must have acquired the wealth and honors of which Juvenal speaks at a later period. It must be confessed that Juvenal lost no time in exerting himself: he had remained silent fourscore years; he now bursts forth at once, as Dodwell expresses it, recites all his Satires without intermission "unis continuisque recitationibus" , celebrates Quintilian, attacks the emperor, and is immediately dispatched to Egypt!
Here is a great deal of business crowded into the compass of a few weeks, or perhaps days; but let us examine it a little more closely. Rigaltius, with several of the commentators, sees in the lines above quoted a sneer at Quintilian, and he accounts for the rhetor's silence respecting our author, by the resentment which he supposes him to have felt at it.
As this militates strongly against Dodwell's ideas, he will not allow that any thing severe was intended by the passage in question; and adds that Quintilian could not mention Juvenal as a satirist, because he had not then written any satires. I believe that both are wrong. In speaking of the satirists, Quintilian says that Persius had justly acquired no inconsiderable degree of reputation by the little he had written. He then adds, "sunt clari hodieque, et qui olim nominabuntur.
It always appeared to me, that this last phrase alluded to our author, with whose extraordinary merits Quintilian was probably acquainted, but whom he did not choose, or, perhaps, did not dare to mention in a work composed under a prince whose crimes this unnamed satirist persecuted with a severity as unmitigated as it was just. Quintilian had no political courage. Either from a sense of kindness or fear, he flatters Domitian almost as grossly as Martial does: but his life was a life of innocence and integrity; I will therefore say no more on this subject; but leave it to the reader to consider whether such a man was likely to startle the "god of his idolatry" by celebrating the Satires of Juvenal.
Nor do I agree with the commentators whom Dodwell has followed, in the literal interpretation of those famous lines. Quintilian was rich, when the rest of his profession were in the utmost want. Here then was an instance of good fortune. He was lucky; and with luck a man may be any thing; handsome, and witty, and wise, and noble, and high-born, and a member of the senate. Who does not see in this a satirical exaggeration? Wisdom, beauty, and high birth luck can not give: why then should the remainder of this passage be so strictly interpreted, and referred to the actual history of Quintilian?
The lines, "Si fortuna volet," etc. Yet on these authorities principally for the passage of Ausonius,  written more than two centuries later, is of no great weight has Quintilian been advanced to consular honors; while Dodwell, who, as we have seen, has taken immense pains to prove that they could only be conferred on him by Hadrian, has hence deduced his strongest arguments for the late date of our author's Satires; which he thus brings down to the period of mental imbecility!
Hence, too, he accounts for the different ideas of Quintilian's wealth in Juvenal and Pliny. When the latter wrote, he thinks Quintilian had not acquired much property, he was "modicus facultatibus:" when the former, "he had been enriched by the imperial bounty, and was capable of senatorial honors. Let us bear in mind, too, that Juvenal is a satirist, and a poet: in the latter capacity, the minute accuracy of an annalist can not be expected at his hands; and in the former—as his object was to show the general discouragement of literature, he could not, consistently with his plan, attribute the solitary good fortune of Quintilian to any thing but luck.
But why was Quintilian made consul? Because, replies Dodwell , when Hadrian first entered Rome he was desirous of gaining the affections of the people; which could be done no way so effectually as by conciliating the esteem of the literati; and he therefore conferred this extraordinary mark of favor on the rhetorician. How did it escape this learned man, that he was likely to do himself more injury in their opinion by the banishment of Juvenal at that same instant? Indeed, the informers of Hadrian's reign must have had more sagacious noses than those of Domitian's, to smell out his fault.
What Statius, in his time, was celebrated for the recitation of a Thebaid, or what Paris, for the purchase of an untouched Agave? And where, might we ask Dodwell, was the "jest" of sending a man on the verge of the grave, in a military capacity, into Egypt? Could the most supple of Hadrian's courtiers look on it as any thing but a wanton exercise of cruelty? At eighty, the business of satirizing, either in prose or verse, is nearly over: what had the emperor then to fear?
And to sum up all in a word, can any rational being seriously persuade himself that the Satires of Juvenal were produced, for the first time, by a man turned of fourscore? Was he ashamed of being known to possess an influence at the imperial court? Those were not very modest times, nor is modesty, in general, the crying vice of the "quality. If Bareas, or Camerinus, or any of the old nobility, had complained of the author, I should have thought it more reasonable: but Domitian cared nearly as little for them as Paris himself did.
He himself, though he did not choose to commit his safety to a promiscuous audience, appears to make no great secret of his peculiar talents. Umbritius predicted, as Tacitus says, the death of Galba, at which time he was looked upon as the most skillful aruspex of the age. He could not then be a young man; yet, at quitting the capital, he still talks of himself as in the first stage of old age, "nova canities, et prima et recta senectus. This, at least, serves to prove in what light the author wished to be considered: for the rest, there can, I think, exclusively of what I have urged, be little doubt that this Satire was produced under Domitian.
Whether medals were ever struck with the inscription of Dacicus and Germanicus in honor of Domitian, I am not qualified to determine. Certain it is, however, that he assumed both these titles; the latter, indeed, in common with his predecessors from the time of Germ. It is given to him, among others, by Martial, who dedicates his eighth book, "Imper. Augusto Germanico Dacico. If, however, it be adjudged to Trajan, I should not for that bring down the date of the Satire to a later period.
Juvenal revised and enlarged all his works, when he gave them to the public: this under consideration, in particular, has all the marks of having received considerable additions; and one of them might be the line in question. There were four consuls of this name. The first is out of the question; the second was consul A. If we take the second, and add any intermediate number of years between sixty and seventy, for Calvinus had passed his sixtieth year, it will just bring us down to the early part of Domitian's reign, which I suppose to be the true date of this Satire; for I can not believe, as I have already observed, that this, or indeed any part of Juvenal's works, was produced when he was trembling on the verge of ninety, as must be the case if either of the latter periods be adopted.
There seems to be no necessity for mentioning a magistrate as sitting, who was not then in existence; nor can any reason be assigned, if the Satire was written under Hadrian, for the author's recurring to the times of Domitian for a name, when that of the "custos urbis" of the day would have better answered his purpose. I have attributed it to an earlier period; principally moved by the consideration that it presents a faithful copy of the state of Rome and the conquered provinces under Nero, and which could scarcely have been given in such vivid colors after the original had ceased to affect the mind.
What Rome was under Domitian, may be seen in the second Satire, and the difference, which has not been sufficiently attended to, is striking in the extreme. I would observe too, that Juvenal speaks here of the crimes of Marius—they might be, and probably were, committed long before his condemnation; but under Domitian it was scarcely safe to attempt bringing such gigantic peculators to justice.
Add to this, that the other culprits mentioned in it are all of them prior to that prince; nay, one of them, Capito, was tried so early as the beginning of Nero's reign. The insertion of Marius, however which might be an after-thought , forms a main argument with Dodwell for the very late date of this Satire; he observes that it had escaped Lipsius and Salmasius; and boasts of it as "longe certissimum," etc.
They fancy that the engagement was seriously made, and religiously observed.
Leicester Research Archive: Food: A Suitable Subject for Roman Verse Satire
Nothing was ever farther from the mind of Juvenal. It is merely a poetical, or, if you will, a satirical, flourish; since there is not a single Satire, I am well persuaded, in which the names of many who were alive at the time are not introduced. Had Dodwell forgotten Quintilian?
Here, we see, it signifies lately; but when it is necessary to bring the works of our author down to a late period, it means, as Britannicus explains it, "de longo tempore," long ago. Very easily; he calls him "fecundus Juvenalis. Yet it is applied by the same writer to a poet of no ordinary kind;. Let it be remembered, too, that Martial, as is evident from the frequent allusions to Domitian's expedition against the Catti, wrote this epigram lib.
Salmasius, more rationally, conceives it to have been produced at Rome. Giving full credit, however, to the story of his late banishment, he is driven into a very awkward supposition. With respect to the 16th Satire, Dodwell, we see, hesitates to attribute it to Juvenal; and, indeed, the old Scholiast says, that, in his time, many thought it to be the work of a different hand.
So it always appeared to me. It is unworthy of the author's best days, and seems but little suited to his worst. He was at least eighty-one, they say, when he wrote it, yet it begins—. Surely, at this age, the writer resembled Priam, the tremulus miles , more than the timid tyro! Nor do I believe that Juvenal would have been much inclined to amuse himself with the fancied advantages of a profession to which he was so unworthily driven.
But the Satire must have been as ill-timed for the army as for himself, since it was probably, at this period, in a better state of subjection than it had been for many reigns. I suppose it to be written in professed imitation of our author's manner, about the age of Commodus. It has considerable merit, though the first and last paragraphs are feeble and tautological; and the execution of the whole is much inferior to the design. In gratiar. In the preface to his fourth book, he says, "Cum vero mihi Dom. Vespasian had a daughter, Domitilla, who married, and died long before her father: she left a daughter, who was given to Flavius Clemens, by whom she had two sons.
These were the grandchildren of Domitian's sister, of whom Quintilian speaks; and to their father, Clemens, according to Ausonius, he was indebted for the show, though not the reality, of power. There is nothing incongruous in all this; yet so possessed are Dodwell and his numerous followers among whom I am sorry to rank Dusaulx of the late period at which it happened, that they will needs have Hadrian to be meant by Domitianus Augustus, though the detestable flattery which follows the words I have quoted most indisputably proves it to be Domitian; and though Dodwell himself is forced to confess that he can find no Clemens under Hadrian to whom the passage applies: "Quis autem fuerit Clemens ille qui Q.
Another circumstance which has escaped all the commentators, and which is of considerable importance in determining the question, remains to be noticed. At the very period of which Dodwell treats, the boundaries of the empire were politically contracted, while Juvenal, whenever he has occasion to speak on the subject, invariably dwells on extending or securing them.
It will now be expected from me, perhaps, to say something on the nature and design of Satire; but in truth this has so frequently been done, that it seems, at present, to have as little of novelty as of utility to recommend it. Dryden, who had diligently studied the French critics, drew up from their remarks, assisted by a cursory perusal of what Casaubon, Heinsius, Rigaltius, and Scaliger had written on the subject, an account of the rise and progress of dramatic and satiric poetry among the Romans; which he prefixed to his translation of Juvenal.
What Dryden knew, he told in a manner that renders every attempt to recount it after him equally hopeless and vain; but his acquaintance with works of literature was not very extensive, while his reliance on his own powers sometimes betrayed him into inaccuracies, to which the influence of his name gives a dangerous importance.
To speak my mind, I do not think that he clearly perceived or fully understood the characters of the first two: of Persius indeed he had an intimate knowledge; for, though he certainly deemed too humbly of his poetry, he yet speaks of his beauties and defects in a manner which evinces a more than common acquaintance with both. What Dryden left imperfect has been filled up in a great measure by Dusaulx, in the preliminary discourse to his translation of Juvenal, and by Ruperti, in his critical Essay "De diversa Satirarum Lucil.
Previously to this, however, it will be necessary to say something on the supposed origin of Satire: and, as this is a very beaten subject, I shall discuss it as briefly as possible. It is probable that the first metrical compositions of the Romans, like those of every other people, were pious effusions for favors received or expected from the gods: of these, the earliest, according to Varro, were the hymns to Mars, which, though used by the Salii in the Augustan age, were no longer intelligible. To these succeeded the Fescennine verses, which were sung, or rather recited, after the vintage and harvest, and appear to have been little more than rude praises of the tutelar divinities of the country, intermixed with clownish jeers and sarcasms, extemporally poured out by the rustics in some kind of measure, and indifferently directed at the audience, or at one another.
These, by degrees, assumed the form of a dialogue; of which, as nature is every where the same, and the progress of refinement but little varied, some resemblance may perhaps be found in the grosser eclogues of Theocritus. Thus improved if the word may be allowed of such barbarous amusements , they formed, for near three centuries, the delight of that nation: popular favor, however, had a dangerous effect on the performers, whose licentiousness degenerated at length into such wild invective, that it was found necessary to restrain it by a positive law: "Si qui populo occentassit, carmenve condisit, quod infamiam faxit flagitiumve alteri, fuste ferito.
This was a wise and a salutary measure: the plague had spread dejection through the city, which was thus rendered more obnoxious to its fury; and it therefore became necessary, by novel and extraordinary amusements, to [Pg xiv] divert the attention of the people from the melancholy objects around them. As the Romans were unacquainted with the language of Tuscany, the players, Livy tells us, omitted the modulation and the words, and confined themselves solely to gestures, which were accompanied by the flute.
This imperfect exhibition, however, was so superior to their own, that the Romans eagerly strove to attain the art; and, as soon as they could imitate what they admired, graced their rustic measures with music and dancing. By degrees they dropped the Fescennine verses for something of a more regular kind, which now took the name of Satire. These Satires for as yet they had but little claim to the title of dramas continued, without much alteration, to the year , when Livius Andronicus, a Greek by birth, and a freedman of L.
Salinator, who was undoubtedly acquainted with the old comedy of his country, produced a regular play. That it pleased can not be doubted, for it surpassed the Satires, even in their improved state; and, indeed, banished them for some time from the scene. They had, however, taken too strong a hold of the affections of the people to be easily forgotten, and it was therefore found necessary to reproduce and join them to the plays of Andronicus the superiority of which could not be contested , under the name of Exodia or After-pieces.
These partook, in a certain degree, of the general amelioration of the stage; something like a story was now introduced into them, which, though frequently indecent and always extravagant, created a greater degree of interest than the reciprocation of gross humor and scurrility in unconnected dialogues. Whether any of the old people still regretted this sophistication of their early amusements, it is not easy to say; but Ennius, who came to Rome about twenty years after this [Pg xv] period, and who was more than half a Grecian, conceived that he should perform an acceptable service by reviving the ancient Satires.
Success justified the attempt. Satire, thus freed from action, and formed into a poem, became a favorite pursuit, and was cultivated by several writers of eminence.
JUVENAL AND ROMAN SATIRES
In imitation of his model, Ennius confined himself to no particular species of verse, nor indeed of language, for he mingled Greek expressions with his Latin at pleasure. It is solely with a reference to this new attempt that Horace and Quintilian are to be understood, when they claim for the Romans the invention  of this kind of poetry; [Pg xvi] and certainly they had opportunities of judging which we have not, for little of Ennius, and nothing of the old Satire, remains.
It is not necessary to pursue the history of Satire farther in this place, or to speak of another species of it, the Varronian, or, as Varro himself called it, the Menippean, which branched out from the former, and was a medley of prose and verse; it will be a more pleasing, as well as a more useful employ, to enter a little into what Dryden, I know not for what reason, calls the most difficult part of his undertaking—"a comparative view of the Satirists;" not certainly with the design of depressing one at the expense of another for, though I have translated Juvenal, I have no quarrel with Horace and Persius , but for the purpose of pointing out the characteristic excellencies and defects of them all.
To do this the more [Pg xvii] effectually, it will be previously necessary to take a cursory view of the times in which their respective works were produced. Lucilius , to whom Horace, forgetting what he had said in another place, attributes the invention of Satire, flourished in the interval between the siege of Carthage and the defeat of the Cimbri and Teutons, by Marius. He lived therefore in an age in which the struggle between the old and new manners, though daily becoming more equal, or rather inclining to the worse side, was still far from being decided.
The freedom of speaking and writing was yet unchecked by fear, or by any law more precise than that which, as has been already mentioned, was introduced to restrain the coarse ebullitions of rustic malignity. Hence that boldness of satirizing the vicious by name, which startled Horace, and on which Juvenal and Persius delight to felicitate him.
Too little remains of Lucilius, to enable us to judge of his manner: his style seems, however, to bear fewer marks of delicacy than of strength, and his strictures appear harsh and violent. With all this, he must have been an extraordinary man; since Horace, who is evidently hurt by his reputation, can say nothing worse of his compositions than that they are careless and hasty, and that if he had lived at a more refined period, he would have partaken of the general amelioration.
I do not remember to have heard it observed, but I suspect that there was something of political spleen in the excessive popularity of Lucilius under Augustus, and something of courtly complacency in the attempt of Horace to counteract it. Augustus enlarged the law of the twelve tables respecting libels; and the people, who found themselves thus abridged of the liberty of satirizing the great by name, might not improbably seek to avenge themselves by an overstrained attachment to the works of a man who, living, as they would insinuate, in better times, practiced without fear, what he enjoyed without restraint.
The space between Horace and his predecessor, was a dreadful interval "filled up with horror all, and big with death. Augustus, whose sword was yet reeking with the best blood of the state, now that submission left him no excuse for farther cruelty, was desirous of enjoying in tranquillity the fruits of his guilt. He displayed, therefore, a magnificence hitherto unknown; and his example, which was followed by his ministers, quickly spread among the people, who were not very unwilling to exchange the agitation and terror of successive proscriptions, for the security and quiet of undisputed despotism.
Tiberius had other views, and other methods of accomplishing them. He did not indeed put an actual stop to the elegant institutions of his predecessor, but he surveyed them with silent contempt, and they rapidly degenerated. The race of informers multiplied with dreadful celerity; and danger, which could only be averted by complying with a caprice not always easy to discover, created an abject disposition, fitted for the reception of the grossest vices, and eminently favorable to the designs of the emperor; which were to procure, by universal depravation, that submission which Augustus sought to obtain by the blandishments of luxury and the arts.
From this gloomy and suspicious tyrant, the empire was transferred to a profligate madman. To the vices of his predecessors, Nero added a frivolity which rendered his reign at once odious and contemptible. Depravity could reach no farther, but misery might yet be extended. This was fully experienced through the turbulent and murderous usurpations of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius; [Pg xix] when the accession of Vespasian and Titus gave the groaning world a temporary respite.
To these succeeded Domitian, whose crimes form the subject of many a melancholy page in the ensuing work, and need not therefore be dwelt on here. Under him, every trace of ancient manners was obliterated; liberty was unknown, law openly trampled upon, and, while the national rites were either neglected or contemned, a base and blind superstition took possession of the enfeebled and distempered mind. Better times followed. Nerva, and Trajan, and Hadrian, and the Antonines, restored the Romans to safety and tranquillity; but they could do no more; liberty and virtue were gone forever; and after a short period of comparative happiness, which they scarcely appear to have deserved, and which brought with it no amelioration of mind, no return of the ancient modesty and frugality, they were finally resigned to destruction.
I now proceed to the "comparative view" of which I have already spoken: as the subject has been so often treated, little of novelty can be expected from it; to read, compare, and judge, is almost all that remains. Horace , who was gay, and lively, and gentle, and affectionate, seems fitted for the period in which he wrote. He had seen the worst times of the republic, and might therefore, with no great suspicion of his integrity, be allowed to acquiesce in the infant monarchy, which brought with it stability, peace, and pleasure.
How he reconciled himself to his political tergiversation it is useless to inquire. If he celebrates the master of the world, it is not until he is asked by him whether he is ashamed that posterity should know them to be friends; and he declines a post, which few of his detractors have merit to deserve, or virtue to refuse. His choice of privacy, however, was in some measure constitutional; for he had an easiness of temper which bordered on indolence; hence he never rises to the dignity of a decided character. Zeno and Epicurus share his homage and undergo his ridicule by turns: he passes without difficulty from one school to another, and he thinks it a sufficient excuse for his versatility, that he continues, amid every change, the zealous defender of virtue.
Latin 311: Roman Satire
Virtue, however, abstractedly considered, has few obligations to his zeal. But though, as an ethical writer, Horace has not many claims to the esteem of posterity; as a critic, he is entitled to all our veneration. Such is the soundness of his judgment, the correctness of his taste, and the extent and variety of his knowledge, that a body of criticism might be selected from his works, more perfect in its kind than any thing which antiquity has bequeathed us.
As he had little warmth of temper, he reproves his contemporaries without harshness. He is content to "dwell in decencies," and, like Pope's courtly dean, "never mentions hell to ears polite. Horace "raised no blush" at least Persius does not insinuate any such thing , and certainly "made no desperate passes. To raise a laugh at vice, however supposing it feasible , is not the legitimate office of Satire, which is to hold up the vicious, as objects of reprobation and scorn, for the example of others, who may be deterred by their sufferings. But it is time to be explicit. To laugh even at fools is superfluous; if they understand you, they will join in the merriment; but more commonly, they will sit with vacant unconcern, and gaze at their own pictures: to laugh at the vicious, is to encourage them; for there is in such men a willfulness of disposition, which prompts them to bear up against shame, and to show how little they regard slight reproof, by becoming more audacious in guilt.
Goodness, of which the characteristic is modesty, may, I fear, be shamed; but vice, like folly, to be restrained, must be overawed. Labeo, says Hall, with great energy and beauty—. Persius , who borrowed so much of Horace's language, has little of his manner. The immediate object of his imitation seems to be Lucilius; and if he lashes vice with less severity than his great prototype, the cause must not be sought in any desire to spare what he so evidently condemned.
But he was thrown "on evil times;" he was, besides, of a rank distinguished enough to make his freedom dangerous, and of an age when life had yet lost little of its novelty; to write, [Pg xxii] therefore, even as he has written, proves him to be a person of very singular courage and virtue. In the interval between Horace and Persius, despotism had changed its nature: the chains which the policy of Augustus concealed in flowers, were now displayed in all their hideousness. The arts were neglected, literature of every kind discouraged or disgraced, and terror and suspicion substituted in the place of the former ease and security.
Stoicism, which Cicero accuses of having infected poetry, even in his days, and of which the professors, as Quintilian observes, always disregarded the graces and elegancies of composition, spread with amazing rapidity. Satire was not his first pursuit; indeed, he seems to have somewhat mistaken his talents when he applied to it. The true end of this species of writing, as Dusaulx justly says, is the improvement of society; but for this, much knowledge of mankind "quicquid agunt homines" is previously necessary. Whoever is deficient in that, may be an excellent moral and philosophical poet; but can not, with propriety, lay claim to the honors of a satirist.
And Persius was moral and philosophical in a high degree: he was also a poet of no mean order. But while he grew pale over the page of Zeno, and Cleanthes, and Chrysippus; while he imbibed, with all the ardor of a youthful mind, the paradoxes of those great masters, together with their principles, the foundations of civil society were crumbling around him, and soliciting his attention in vain. To judge from what he has left us, it might almost be affirmed that he was a stranger in his own country. The degradation of Rome was now complete; yet he felt, at least he expresses, no indignation at the means by which it was effected: a sanguinary buffoon was [Pg xxiii] lording it over the prostrate world; yet he continued to waste his most elaborate efforts on the miserable pretensions of pedants in prose and verse!
If this savor of the impassibility of Stoicism, it is entitled to no great praise on the score of outraged humanity, which has stronger claims on a well-regulated mind, than criticism, or even philosophy. Dryden gives that praise to the dogmas of Persius, which he denies to his poetry. The charge of obscurity has been urged against him with more justice; though this, perhaps, is not so great as it is usually represented.
Casaubon could, without question, have defended him more successfully than he has done; but he was overawed by the brutal violence of the elder Scaliger; for I can scarcely persuade myself that he really believed this obscurity to be owing to "the fear of Nero, or the advice of Cornutus. Generally speaking, however, it springs from a too frequent use of tropes, approaching in almost every instance to a catachresis, an anxiety of compression, and a quick and unexpected transition from one overstrained figure to another.
After all, with the exception of the sixth Satire, which, from its abruptness, does not appear to have received the author's last touches, I do not think there is much to confound an attentive reader: some acquaintance, indeed, with the porch "braccatis illita Medis," is previously necessary. His life may be contemplated with unabated pleasure: the virtue he recommends, he practiced in the fullest extent; and at an age when few have acquired a determinate character, he left behind him an established reputation for genius, learning, and worth.
Juvenal wrote at a period still more detestable than that of Persius. Domitian, who now governed the empire, seems to have inherited the bad qualities of all his predecessors. Juvenal, like Persius, professes to follow Lucilius; but what was in one a simple attempt, is in the other a real imitation, of his manner.
Dusaulx, who is somewhat prejudiced against Horace, does ample justice to Juvenal. There is great force in what he says; and, as I do not know that it ever appeared in English, I shall take the liberty of laying a part of it before the reader, at the hazard of a few repetitions. The cruel but politic Octavius scattered flowers over the paths he was secretly tracing toward despotism: the arts of Greece, transplanted to the Capitol, flourished beneath his auspices; and the remembrance of so many civil dissensions, succeeding each other with increasing rapidity, excited a degree of reverence for the author of this unprecedented tranquillity.
The Romans felicitated themselves [Pg xxv] at not lying down, as before, with an apprehension of finding themselves included, when they awoke, in the list of proscription: and neglected, amid the amusements of the circus and the theatre, those civil rights of which their fathers had been so jealous. A better courtier than a soldier, he clearly saw how far the refinement, the graces, and the cultivated state of his genius qualities not much considered or regarded till his time  , were capable of advancing him without any extraordinary effort. It is on this account, that, of all his contemporaries, he has celebrated none but the friends of his master, or, at least, those whom he could praise without fear of compromising his favor.
His great aim was to alarm the vicious, and, if possible, to exterminate vice, which had, as it were, acquired a legal establishment. A noble enterprise! Despotism was consecrated by the senate; liberty, of which a few slaves were still sensible, was nothing but an unmeaning word for the rest, which, unmeaning as it was, they did not dare to pronounce in public. Men of rank were declared enemies to the state for having praised their equals; historians were condemned to the cross, philosophy was proscribed, and its professors banished.
Individuals felt only for their own danger, which they too often averted by accusing others; and there were instances of children who denounced their own parents, and appeared as witnesses against them! It was not possible to weep for the proscribed, for tears themselves became the object of proscription; and when the tyrant of the day had condemned the accused to banishment or death, the senate decreed that he should be thanked for it, as for an act of singular favor. Ancient Reading in Latin: Persius, Satire 6 80 lines : on the proper use of externals like wealth.
Oral Presentation : Persius and Horace. Persius and Horace are both interested in both philosophy and poetry, but the results are not necessarily the same, and Persius may be responding to Horace, not merely writing on the same subjects. Working with Horace, Satire 2. You may find it helpful to read Andrea Cucchiarelli, "Speaking from silence: the Stoic paradoxes of Persius," pp. Freudenburg Cambridge: Cambridge University Press --an overview to help you get a grip on Persius as a whole, since, as Cucchiarelli says, "Persius is hard to read.
He wants it that way. Monday, November 5 : Juvenal I. Ancient Reading in Translation : Juvenal, Satire 1. Dominik New York e-reserve. Oral Presentation : Opening First Satires. The first poem in a book can do many things. Look back at Horace, Satires 1. What conventions develop? What roles can the first satire in a book play? What can a poet tell his or her audience in an initial satire about such things as the content to come, the persona who will speak in the work, the work's relationship to its literary tradition?
Extra Credit : Read and post a page's summary and discussion of an article on the role of the "educational autobiography" Roman satirists often provide the article opens with today's passage of Juvenal : Catherine Keane, "Satiric Memories: Autobiography and the Construction of Genre," Classical Journal 97 , pp. Thursday, November 8 : Juvenal II. Ancient Reading in Latin: Juvenal, Satire 6. Modern Reading: A. Oral Presentation : Anger and Satire. How did the Romans think of anger as an emotion? How does Juvenal present the speaker of his Satires , at least in Satires ?
You might also find useful material in K. Thursday, November 15 : Juvenal IV. Modern Reading: Barbara K. Monday, November 19 : Juvenal V. Read the Oxford fragment in English. Ancient Reading in Translation : Juvenal, Satire Monday, November 26 : Juvenal VI. Johnson adapts Juvenal's Tenth Satire from Rome to England and makes something that is profoundly English yet profoundly Roman in inspiration.
Oral Presentation : Johnson and Juvenal. What is Johnson doing with Juvenal's Satire? You will need to present both Juvenal 3 and Johnson's "London" to the class. Consider whether you want the class to read them before your presentation if so, give several days' notice or whether you want to present the poems by summary and illustrative quotation. Email me before class to let me know which article you read, and in class discussion remember that everyone will not have read the same article i.
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