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THE STATE OF THE TIMES.
INTRODUCTION.–The reference to the trial of Marius Priscus (line 49) shows that the satire was not written before 100 A. D.
Juvenal first gives his reasons for writing. He is tired of hearing wearisome accounts of mythological commonplaces, and will take his revenge by giving his tormentors something to listen to. He then explains why he chooses the field of satire: the corruption of the times, when luxury and wealth rule society, forces an earnest man to deal with the present rather than the past. He will take human life with all its passions as his theme; these passions were never more openly displayed than at this time in Rome, when gambling, gluttony, and avarice are at their height. The subject may demand more audacity than he possesses, but, if he dare not deal with the living, he may at least attack the vices of the generation just passed away.
1. Auditor tantum, a mere listener. The practice of giving readings from one's own poems (introduced by Asinius Pollio about 100 B. c.) had become very common and, to most people, very disagreeable. The younger Pliny, however, seems to have enjoyed it. Cf. Plin. Ep. I, 13.
Reponam, pay back-i. e., write something of my own for others to listen to.
2. Rauci, from so much reading aloud.
Theseide—i. e., the story of Theseus, as the Aeneid was the story of Aeneas. Mythology and hero-stories furnished a rich field for the society poet.
3. Ergo, then, as often.
Togatas (fabulas). The principal forms of Roman drama were: togatae, comedies on Roman subjects, in which the characters wore the toga ; palliatae, comedies dealing with Greek life, in which the Greek garment,
the pallium, was worn; praetextae, tragedies, so called from the toga praetexta.
4. Ingens Telephus. The adjective probably refers to the length of the poem. Telephus was king of Mysia, wounded by Achilles's spear. Cf. Hor. A. P. 96.
5. Summi. There is some doubt about the meaning; probably summi here extremi-i. e., the margin up to the very last part of the book was full. 6. In tergo. Roman books were usually composed of sheets of papyrus or parchment. It was customary to write on only one side of each sheet. Cf. Fig. 1.
7. Lucus Martis. Several such groves are mentioned by the ancients; this may be any one of them.
8. Antrum Vulcani. Vergil VIII, 422, calls Lipara, one of the Aeolian islands, north of Sicily, Vulcani domus.
9. Agant and the following verbs are subjunctive in indirect questions, objects of clamant.
10. Aeacus, Minos, and Rhadamanthus were the judges of the dead.
11. Monychus, in the contest between the Centaurs and the Lapitbae. Cf. Ov. Met. XII, 510 ff.
12. Frontonis, some rich patron of literature; perhaps Ti. Catius Fronto, who defended Marius Priscus. Cf. line 49.
Marmora convulsa, a strong expression of the effect produced by the vigorous reading. Cf. VII, 86, fregit subsellia versu.
13. Adsiduo lectore, almost the assiduity of the reader; the ablative of the agent properly requires the preposition ab; in such cases as this the stress is laid on the quality expressed by the adjective, not on the person.
14. Cf. Hor. Ep. II, 1, 117. Scribimus indocti doctique poematu passim.
15. Et nos, etc. 1, too, have flinched from the rod, and written compositions, i. e.-in these times a common-school education seems to be the only requisite for a poet; that I have had: why should not I write poems as well as others ?
16. Consilium, etc. School themes were often on subjects drawn from history. This was an address to Sulla advising his abdication.
Altum, used as an adverb. Cf. Pope's “ Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”
18. Vatibus, used contemptuously, “bards.” The dative is indirect object. “ Verbs compounded with certain prepositions take the dative” only because the combination modifies the original meaning in such a way that the resulting verbal phrase (verb + preposition) requires an indirect object.
Periturae-i. e., sure to be spoiled by some one.
19. Having justified his writing, Juvenal proceeds to justify his writing satire.
20. Auruncao alumnus. Lucilius, the early Roman satirist, was born at Suessa Aurunca in Campania, 148 B. C.
Cf. Hor. Sat. I, 10, 56–74; II, 1, 30 ff.
21. Si vacat-i. e., si vacui estis, if you are at leisure.
Gravis, his beard was gravis because it brought a certain amount of gravitas, dignity.
Mihi iuveni, a sort of dative of reference. This line occurs again X, 226. 26. Pars refers to Crispinus.
Verna Canopi, born and bred at Canopus, not necessarily a house slave. Canopus was a city of Egypt, near Alexandria, noted for its profligacy.
27. Crispinus is said to have come to Rome as a fish-peddler, and to have been made an eques by Domitian.
Umero revocante, he gave a lazy shrug of the shoulder to prevent his cloak from slipping off.
28. Aestivum aurum. The ultra-fashionable Romans had lighter fingerrings for summer.
30. Saturam. Juvenal seems to use the word with something of the idea of our satire; originally it meant medley, and was derived from lanx satura, a basket of first fruit-offerings.
32. Causidici, pettifogger. Matho seems to have been well known. Juvenal mentions him in two other places, and Martial often. Lectica. Cf. Fig. 2.
33. Delator. The trade of informer was very profitable as well as very disreputable. Cf. Tac. Hist. IV, 42.
35. Massa. Baebius Massa was procurator of Africa in 70 A. D. He was accused of extortion (repetundarum), after his proconsulate in Baetica, by Herennius Senecio and the younger Pliny.
36. Carus. Mettius Carus was another infamous informer; he secured the condemnation of Herennius Senecio in 73 A. D. Cf. Plin. Ep. I, 5, 3; VII, 19, 5. Thymele was an actress, Latinus an actor.
45. Iecur. The ancients localized various passions in different organs of the body, for which physiological justification is not wanting. Translate heart. Cf. Hor. Odes I, 13, 4.