Thursday, 4 September 2014

One, Three, Ten...Satires are go!

I seem to running out of time with my posts! There is so much to say about Juvenal but so little time in which to make posts about him and his ‘satura’. Therefore in the interests of time I draw your attention to the very useful synopsis guide to the Satires over at Wikipedia.
The link is here:

As I mentioned before we will be looking at Satires I, III and X. Why? Here are a few quick answers to that question:

Satire I ‘difficile est saturam non scribere, nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se…’(I.30-32)

Satire I outlines Juvenal’s purpose in writing his work and the rationale behind his approach – in brief, why write Satire at all? It also offers a potted tour of most of the themes covered in more detail in later books of the satires. It’s the gateway chapter to the whole shebang where we get a taste of things to come and a hint of what the satirists job should or could be. I was reminded strongly of Juvenal when I had the misfortune to catch the opening credits of BBC 1’s new ‘extravaganza’ on Saturday night..Tumble. ‘Panem et Circenses’ indeed….what would Juvenal do apart from following the advice of Democritus to laugh at such insane human folly?

Satire III  ‘quid Romae faciam?’ (III.41)

The multifarious ills of Rome and a nice setting within the satire of Umbricius’ reasons for leaving Rome...the font of all ills for the thinking and virtuous man of moral integrity. It’s an interesting use of an interlocutor as a mouthpiece for Juvenal’s famous ‘indigatio’ and sharp moral invective.

Satire X  ‘Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.’(X.356-)

Few really know what is good..wealth and fame often lead to a sticky end. Juvenal runs through the human vanities demolishing them in his epic and bathetic style.
I thought that the above three give a good snapshot of the work and provide a couple of famous quotes here and there as well. It also has a few interesting figures such as Sejanus and Seneca.

I was going to post something about the more colourful satires which are usually excised from more sensitive and earlier versions of the Satires but perhaps we could leave that until we next meet. Lots to discuss – especially Juvenal’s position in the satirists’ pantheon, compared to Lucilius, Horace, Martial and Persius.

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