Satires of Juvenal

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The Satires are a collection of satirical poems by the Latin author Juvenal written in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD.

Juvenal is credited with sixteen known poems divided among five books; all are in the Roman genre of Satire, which, at its most basic in the time of the author, comprised a wide-ranging discussion of society and social mores in dactylic hexameter.[1] These five books were discrete works, and there is no reason to assume that they were published at the same time or that they are identical in theme or in approach. The poems are not individually titled, but translators have often added titles for the convenience of readers.

  • Book I: Satires 1-5
  • Book II: Satire 6
  • Book III: Satires 7-9
  • Book IV: Satires 10-12
  • Book V: Satires 13-16 (Satire 16 is incompletely preserved)

Roman Satura was a formal literary genre rather than being simply clever, humorous critique in no particular format. Juvenal wrote in this tradition, which originated with Lucilius and included the Sermones of Horace and the Satires of Persius.[2] In a tone and manner ranging from irony to apparent rage, Juvenal criticizes the actions and beliefs of many of his contemporaries, providing insight more into value systems and questions of morality and less into the realities of Roman life. The author employs outright obscenity less frequently than Martial or Catullus, but the scenes painted in his text are no less vivid or lurid for that discretion.

The author makes constant allusion to history and myth as a source of object lessons or exemplars of particular vices and virtues. Coupled with his dense and elliptical Latin, these tangential references indicate that the intended reader of the Satires was highly educated.[3] The Satires are concerned with perceived threats to the social continuity of the Roman citizens: social-climbing foreigners, unfaithfulness, and other more extreme excesses of their own class. The intended audience of the Satires constituted a subset of the Roman elite, primarily adult males of a more conservative social stance.

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