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would put his birth, at the earliest, in the third year of Nero, A.D. 56, and I am inclined to think that this is not far from the date. [Ribbeck has come to the same conclusion, Juvenalis Sat. Praefatio.] That he was familiar with the iniquities of Nero does not certainly prove that he lived in his reign, and according to the above supposition he was not more than twelve when Nero died, perhaps less. Of Domitian he writes with a contempt and loathing which seem to be the fruit of a personal acquaintance with his times, and a memory full of disdain. That he was of full age in Domitian's reign is certain, since he had formed an intimate friendship with Martial before the seventh book of his Epigrams was published. That book was written A.D. 93, and contains two epigrams, one alluding, and the other addressed, to Juvenal, in terms of affectionate familiarity. This alone would be sufficient proof that Juvenal was not exiled by Domitian, at any rate till after the above year, which was ten years after the death of Paris, and not three years before Domitian's. In Martial's twelfth book there is an epigram (18) addressed to Juvenal at Rome, Martial being at his native place, Bibilis in Spain. This epigram was written between the years A.D. 100 and 104, not long after the accession of Trajan, and it supposes Juvenal to be wandering restlessly about the town and tiring himself with attendance on great people. If, therefore, any banishment took place in Domitian's time, the cause could not have been that assigned by the Grammarians, and it must have been of short duration.
Adopting then such data as appear to have any probability in them, the following may be laid down as a sketch of Juvenal's life, without pretending to accuracy, for which there are no materials.
His name was Decius Junius Juvenalis.
He was born possibly at Aquinum, in Latium, about the beginning of Nero's reign, that is soon after A.D. 54, of respectable parents, his father being a rich libertinus, and he himself therefore ingenuus. He received the usual education of a Roman boy and youth, as he says (S. i. 15):
“Et nos ergo manum ferulae subduximus, et nos
Dormiret.” He took the 'toga virilis' about the beginning of Vespasian's reign, A.D. 70, and having, as he says above, learnt rhetoric in the schools, he continued to practise it as a man, not professionally, but for his own amusement, through the reign of Vespasian and the greater part of Domitian's, that is, till the year A.D. 94, in which year or the next he by some means offended Domitian, and was sent by him into Egypt with a military command, such as civilians often received during the Empire. In A.D. 96 Domitian was killed and Nerva succeeded him, Then, or soon afterwards, Juvenal was allowed to give up his command and return to Rome, being at the time of his return about forty years of age. Martial's epigram proves that he was not altogether independent or comfortable about this time. Nerva reigned less than two years, and Trajan succeeded to the empire A.D. 98, and in the early part of his reign, soon after A.D. 100, Juvenal first published a volume of Satires (of which the first in our collection was one), having already recited them to large audiences. It is not unlikely that some of these, or parts of them, had been composed in the reign of Domitian', or even earlier, but ' that the poet had not ventured to make them public. He continued to write freely during Trajan's reign, which ended A.D. 117, when Juvenal was about sixty, and during the early years of Hadrian's reign, that is, till about A.D. 120. During this reign he may have lived in comfort through the liberality of the emperor, though his household was on a frugal scale, as he tells us in Sat. xi., from which (v. 65) we learn that he had property at Tibur. It is not impossible he may have lived till the accession of Antoninus Pius, who succeeded Hadrian A.D. 138, when Juvenal was, according to this sketch, eighty or a little more.
Thus the statements of the Grammarians in respect to the poet's age, and of that writer who says he died of old age in the time of Antoninus Pius, would be borne out. I have also allowed the fact of an honourable banishment into Egypt, though not the cause assigned by the Grammarians, which is impossible. That Juvenal did not professedly compose satire till late in life, is admitted and accounted for. Likewise that he may have written verses before he ventured to publish them, and that some of these were afterwards incorporated with his Satires, is allowed. It is also admitted that he attended the usual schools in early life, and practised rhetoric till middle age. Beyond these facts the Grammarians I believe have been misled, probably by mistaken inferences drawn from allusions in the Satires themselves, a fertile source of error and of pretended learning on the part of the Scholiasts on all the ancient authors.
The fact of the banishment, though allowed as not being chronologically impossible, I nevertheless think is an error, but an early one, as is proved by a verse quoted from Sidonius Apollinaris, who believed the whole story, including Paris’ share in it. He wrote about the middle of the fifth century, and says (Carm. ix. 270, sqq.):
“Non qui tempore Caesaris secundi
I See Introduction to S. ii.
Independently of the chronological difficulties in respect to Paris, it does not appear that the verses quoted by the Grammarians were ever intended as a satire on him, but if any thing as a compliment. So at least they appear in the connexion in which we have them. And it is perfectly clear that in that connexion they could not have given offence to the emperor, whoever he was, since the Satire sets out from the first with such praise as the worst of these princes coveted and rewarded, praise for his exclusive support of learning. If therefore it had been possible to admit these verses as the cause of Domitian's displeasure, it must have been when they appeared separately as an epigram, or with a different context from the present, which it must be admitted they do not very well suit, if, as seems certain, the rest of the Satire was written long after Paris' death. It is the way with the Roman Satirists to represent living names and characters by dead, and some have supposed that by Paris is meant a favourite actor of a later reign. But though there may have been later counterparts of Statius, it is not likely that there was another Paris, or any one whom his name would represent, whether with Hermann we refer the Satire to Trajan's time, or, as I believe it should be, to Hadrian's.
As to the place of Juvenal's supposed exile, I do not think it necessary to argue the subject against Francke?, who denies the fact and declares Juvenal never was in Egypt at all, or against Hermann», who holds that he was sent to Scotland. I have no doubt he had been in Egypt before he wrote the fifteenth Satire. That he ever visited Britain I think cannot be proved, and it is not very likely. It is enough to say that Agricola fought the last battle in Caledonia (on the Grampians) A.D. 84, in which year he was recalled, having completely subdued the country. But we have seen that Juvenal was at Rome as late as A.D. 94, after which there was no fighting against the Scoti, and if it was the emperor's desire that the poet should be killed, as the Grammarian says, he would not have been sent to join the troops in Britain for that purpose. The inscription quoted by Hermann, if genuine, and if it refers to our Juvenal, proves nothing in favour of a Caledonian exile. [See the note on Sat. iii. 320. Ribbeck assumes that the inscription there mentioned refers to the Satirist Juvenal, who according to this inscription had served in the Roman armies, and as a commander of a cohort of Delmatae or Dalmatae, and he adds 'quoniam Delmatarum cohortem annis civ. CVI. cxxiv. in Britannia tetendisse docent diplo
2 Examen criticum Decii Junii Juvenalis vitae, Altona, 1820, and Quaestio altera, Dorpat, 1827.
3 Preface to his edition, Leipzig, 1854, and De Satirae Septimae Temporibus Disputatio, Göttingen, 1843.
mata (cf. E. Huebner Mus. Rhen, xi. 30), eiusque et praefecti et tribuni apparent (cf. Henzen annal. antiquitt. Rhen. xiii. 87), satis probabilis hominum doctorum conjectura est, poetam nostrum aliquando in Britannia functum esse militia.]
Of Juvenal's personal cha cter it is not so easy to form an estimate from his writings as it is of Horace's. That his invectives against the vices of his time are not the mere artistic and declamatory compositions which some writers suppose them to be, but the fruits of an honest indignation, of rare powers of sarcasm, and of a large knowledge of the world, I think is manifest. His language is unreserved in dealing with the foulest vices, but there is no appearance of his being himself a loose liver in any part of his writings. When Horace is coarse he betrays something of sympathy with vice, while Juvenal shows only contempt for it. Although therefore an expurgated edition of Juvenal would have more gaps than an expurgated edition of Horace, a well-regulated mind would be less offended with the entire text of Juvenal than with that of Horace. Juvenal's morality was of a higher and less technical sort than Horace's, and has led some into the notion that he drew it from the purest source, and was in understanding, if not by profession, a Christian. This of course is absurd. He knew human nature, and he knew right from wrong, and was not blinded by self-indulgence, and 80 was able to state the law of conscience in a way to astonish some Christians, to whom that law is very imperfectly known.
Apart from his morality Juvenal was a great master of words, and had a large fund of illustration. His pictures drawn from real life, as I have observed in the course of the notes, are particularly happy: whether they represent the common room of a tavern, or the deck of a ship, or the inside of a soldier's hut or of a camp, or a schoolroom, or the greedy crowd at the sportula, or the streets of Rome, or a drunken brawl, these and a hundred other scenes are so drawn that an artist would have no difficulty in transferring them to canvas. But his hand must be vigorous and his brush free, or he would do no justice to Juvenal.
There is one particular form of lust from which modern wickedness shrinks, but which was one of the worst evils of Roman society under the Empire. This vice is exposed in two Satires of great power (ii, ix.). The wickedness of women was never so unsparingly handled as it is in the sixth Satire, a composition of extraordinary power and variety. The general degradation of Roman life and manners is exposed in the first, third, and fourteenth Satires, and in the last of these the chief cause of the universal wickedness is laid open in the indifference of parents to the morals of their young children, and the example which handed down vice as an inheritance from father to son. The degradation of the Senate, once the fountain of honour and authority, and the proudest
institution of a haughty people, but now obedient to the wantonness of a tyrant who mocked its weakness and played with its servility, is amusingly shown in the fourth Satire. The fifth exposes a different sort of servility, that of parasites, who sell their independence and accept contempt for the sake of a meal grudgingly given, a low practice which was more systematized at Rome, if it was not much more common, than it is in our own country. The neglect of literary men has a Satire to itself (the seventh); aristocratic pride has another (the eighth). The eunning of will-hunters is hit off at the end of the twelfth, which is not among the most interesting of these compositions. It relates chiefly to the arrival of a friend after a dangerous voyage, and is more of the nature of a familiar letter than of a Satire. The dishonesty of the age is described in the thirteenth Satire, which contains some of Juvenal's finest verses, and shows him in the best character. This also is in the form of an epistle to a friend, and so is the eleventh, which contains an invitation to dinner, and contrasts the poet's own plainness of living with the luxurious habits of his contemporaries. Thus Juvenal goes through all the great scandals of his day, and treats them unsparingly. The crimes and criminals of former reigns are freely introduced by way of illustration, but this is because the vices of one reign represented those of another, and the names of the dead could be more safely used than of the living. Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Otho, Domitian, are all brought up from time to time to point a moral or illustrate some aspect of crime.
The most celebrated of Juvenal's poems, the tenth, has more of the declamatory character, which some of his critics attribute to all. It is on the vanity of human wishes, which is illustrated chiefly by historical examples, and the poem has not much bearing upon the particular character of his times. It is the finest specimen of that sort of composition that I am acquainted with. The fifteenth Satire is connected with a scene of little general interest, an Egyptian squabble, Juvenal's own interest in which can only be accounted for by his having been in the country where it happened. The last Satire, if it had been completed, would have furnished a sketch of military life, sarcastic but good-humoured, from which a good deal of information might have been derived.