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THE LIFE OF JUVENAL
The only certain evidence as to the facts of Juvenal's life is to be found in casual allusions in his own Satires; such external authorities as there are possess only an uncertain value, and do not even give us the dates of his birth and death. The following passages give us what certain landmarks we possess :
(1) Sat. iv. 153 refers to the murder of the Emperor Domitian, which took place upon the 18th of September, A.D. 96. Sat. ii. 29-33 contains a gross attack upon Domitian.
(2) Sat. i. 49, 50 mentions the recent condemnation of Marius Priscus for extortion in the province of Africa. That trial, made famous by the fact that the younger Pliny was the chief prosecutor, took place in January, A.D. 100.
(3) The allusion to a comet and an earthquake in connection with Armenian and Parthian affairs in Sat. vi. 407 has been held, with some probability, to refer to events in the year 115.
(4) Sat. vii. begins with a prophecy that bright days are in store for literature, since it has now been assured of the patronage of Caesar. The probability is that the Caesar thus referred to is Hadrian, who succeeded Trajan in the year A.D. 117. The attempts to prove that Trajan was the emperor intended have not been successful. Trajan was by no means a literary emperor, whereas Hadrian was himself a poet and surrounded himself with literary and artistic persons of various kinds.
(5) In Sat. xiii. 17 Juvenal describes Calvinus, the friend to whom the Satire is addressed, as one
qui iam post terga reliquit Sexaginta annos Fonteio consule natus. Theré
were consuls of the name of Fonteius Capito in three different years, A.D. 12, 59, and 67. The first date is obviously too early; the year referred to is probably A.D. 67, since in that year, and not in the other two, the name of Fonteius stands first in the Fasti. This would fix Sat. xiii. to the year A.D. 127. (6) Lastly, in Sat. xv. 27:
Nos miranda quidem sed nuper consule lunco
Gesta super calidae referemus moenia Copti, the reading lunco, now satisfactorily established Iunio, refers to Aemilius Iuncus, who was cons the year 127. Sat. xv. must therefore have written in the year A.D. 127, or shortly after it (nuper).
It will be noted that these dates, supported by various other considerations, suggest that the Satires are numbered in the order of their publication. This view is confirmed by the fact recorded that the Satires were originally published in five separate books; the first book consisting of Sat. i. to v. inclusive, the second of Sat. vi., the third of Sat. vii. to ix., the fourth of Sat. x. to xii. inclusive, and the fifth of the remaining Satires. In the case of Sat. i., however, it seems probable that this Satire, being in the nature of a preface, was written after the rest of Book i.
Such are the only certain indications as to date which can be discovered in Juvenal's own words. They suggest that the literary period of his life (apart from his earlier recitations) was embraced within the reigns of the emperors Trajan (A.D. 98–117) and Hadrian (A.D. 117-138), probably not extending to the end of the latter's reign. And as in Sat. xi. 203 he seems to speak of himself as an old man, we may perhaps, with some certainty, put his birth between the years A.D. 60 and 70.
Other indications of a personal kind are few and insignificant. When Umbricius, on leaving Rome, bids good-bye to his old friend Juvenal, he speaks of the chance of seeing him from time to time when comes, for the sake of his health, “to his own
um "; from which we may fairly infer that the
Lian town of Aquinum was the poet's native place. This inference is confirmed by an inscription