The New Student's Reference Work/Juvenal

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Juvenal, Roman satirist, was born about 55 A. D. in the Volscian country where his father, a free Roman citizen, owned an estate. He was educated at Rome, and became the friend of Martial and Quintilian. Probably under Titus or early in Domitian's reign he served as tribune in the army, and in his native town of Aquinum he filled the office of censor and held other important posts. An inscription tells us that he was in Britain, and he is also known to have visited upper Egypt. All of his writings that are left are 16 satires; but these are of great value in themselves as literature and as pictures of Roman life under the empire. Perhaps the finest are the first five satires, written when the author was fresh from a living experience of Domitian's brutalizing government. The most popular now probably is the tenth, The Vanity of Human Wishes, which was imitated by Dr. Samuel Johnson. Juvenal used satire, not as a branch of comedy, which it was to Horace, the other great Roman satirist, but as an engine for attacking the tyranny, crimes and follies of his time. He died in 140 A. D.