Humanities › Literature Juvenal: Roman Satirist Share Flipboard Email Print Clipart.com Literature Classic Literature Authors & Texts Top Picks Lists Study Guides Terms Best Sellers Plays & Drama Poetry Quotations Shakespeare Short Stories Children's Books By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated January 14, 2020 Satura tota nostra est.Satire is all ours. Some of our favorite television shows and movies are satires. This usually biting form of entertainment owes its creation not to the artistic Greeks, who developed comedy, tragedy, lyric poetry, and more, but to the usually thought of as more practical Romans. Roman verse satire, a literary genre created by the Romans, is personal and subjective, providing insight into the poet and a look (albeit, warped) at social mores. Invective and obscenities, dining habits, corruption, and personal flaws all have a place in it. Juvenal was a master of exposing the foibles of society, with elegance. What We Don't Know About Juvenal While we must always be leery of assuming the persona (the speaker in the poem) speaks for the poet, in the case of the last and greatest of the Roman satirists, Juvenal, we don't have much choice. He wasn't mentioned by most contemporary poets and is not included in Quintilian's history of satire. It wasn't until Servius, in the late 4th century, that Juvenal received recognition. We think Juvenal's full name was Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis. Juvenal may have come from near Monte Cassino. His father may have been a rich freedman and rhetorician. This deduction is based on the lack of dedication in Juvenal's satires. Since Juvenal didn't dedicate his work, he probably didn't have a patron, and so may have been independently wealthy, but he may have been very poor. We don't know Juvenal's birth or death date. Even the period at which he flourished is debatable. It is possible he outlived Hadrian. What is clear is that he endured the reign of Domitian and was still alive under Hadrian. Topics of Juvenal's Satires Juvenal wrote 16 satires varying in length from (xvi) 60 lines to (vi) 660. Topics, as stated in his opening programmatic satire, include all aspects of real life, past and present. In reality, the topics center on all aspects of vice. Book 1 Satire 1 (In English)Programmatic satire in which Juvenal states that his purpose is to write satire in a world where sinners are men of power.Satire 2 (In English)Satire on homosexuality and the betrayal of traditional Roman values.Satire 3 (In English)Contrasts corruption of modern Rome with the older simple way of life still found in the country.Satire 4Farcical political satire about the meeting of an imperial council to determine how to cook an outlandish fish.Satire 5Dinner party at which the patron continually humiliates his guest client. Book 2 Satire 6A wonder of misogyny, a catalogue of evil, eccentric, and depraved women. Book 3 Satire 7Without patronage in high places, intellectual pursuits suffer privations.Satire 8Aristocratic birth should be accompanied by noble behavior.Satire 9A dialogue in which the author assures Naevolus, a male prostitute, there will always be work for him in Rome. Book 4 Satire 10What should be prayed for is a healthy mind and body ( mens sana in corpore sano)Satire 11Epistolary invitation to a simple dinner.Satire 12Description of sacrifice to be made for the safe escape of a man named Catullus from a storm at sea because he jettisoned his treasures. Book 5 Satire 13Consoles Calvinus on his loss -- of money.Satire 14Parents teach their children the vice of greed by their example.Satire 15Mankind has a tendency towards cannibalism and should follow Pythagoras' dietary recommendations.Satire 16Civilians have no redress against military assaults.