« PredošláPokračovať »
It is customary to point to the pronounced rhetorical character of much that Juvenal has written as proof of his long practice of declamation. The disposition of the subject-matter, the connection of the parts, the lack of unity, the commonplaces and examples, the abrupt digressions, the fullness of expression, the figures of speech, the strong colors, and other features of the Satires are passed in review and explained as the work of a poetical declaimer, a rhetorician from top to toe, whose writings show throughout that the ways and habits of the schools of rhetoric had become to him a second nature. The statement, to be sure, of Juvenal himself, that he attended a school of rhetoric (1, 15 sqq.), is abundantly corroborated. But what Juvenal says and what we read in the biography are widely different things. Assuming the correctness of the latter, we seek in vain a natural and satisfactory explanation of certain facts.
In depicting the inadequate remuneration of lawyers (7, 106 sqq.) he says that Aemilius, who lives in the pomp of wealth, will receive as large a fee as the law allows, and adds : et melius nos egimus. The pronoun, which the commentators leave unnoticed, should be understood of Juvenal alone, as in the similar allusion to his education (1, 15 sqq.):
et nos ergo manum ferulae subduximus, et nos
If it is taken in a broader sense, it must at the farthest be referred to a class to which Juvenal had belonged. That he was no longer a member of it is implied in the tone of the whole passage, and especially of the conclusion, in which he bids those who expect pay for their eloquence to betake themselves to Gaul or to Africa. He was, then, at one time an advocate of slender means. It was not as an outsider that he became so thoroughly acquainted with all the trials of a poor lawyer. It was the eloquent but struggling pleader of causes, not a poet or rhetorician, whom Martial described as anxiously visiting in his sweaty toga the palaces of the rich (12, 18) and to whom he applied that much vexed epithet facundus (7, 91), a term which Juvenal also uses of lawyers, with allusion, perhaps, to himself:
tamen ima plebe Quiritem facundum invenies, solet hic defendere causas nobilis indocti ;
rara in tenui facundia panno,
designating, at any rate, a quality which he was conscious of possessing (et melius nos egimus). From the Epigrams in which Juvenal is mentioned by Martial, published about 91 A. D. and 100 A. D., it appears, in the light of what has been said, that Juvenal was a lawyer all the last decade of the first century and probably before that time—at least a decade before the publication of the first book of the Satires, with its allusion to an event of 100 A. D. (1, 47 sqq.). Of his straitened circumstances in this part of his career—it was subsequent acquisitions of one kind or another that brought him enough to make him comfortable and contented in later years—still other indications are not wanting. In describing the scenes connected with the distribution of the sportula (1, 99 sqq.) he may possibly not imply that he is himself a recipient of the favor, yet he certainly does place himself in the same class with the poor people who must stand back till the rich are served. That Juvenal was poor has often been pointed out on the basis of indirect evidence, which, indecisive by itself, is nevertheless strongly corroborative. His deep sympathy for the poor, to whom he devotes so much attention in the earlier Satires, and his full knowledge of their troubles are best understood as an outgrowth of his experience. He had himself suffered the ills from which he drew his philosophy of life (13, 20):
nec iactare iugum vita didicere magistra. It is in the earliest Satires that Juvenal's touch with life is closest. He introduces himself at once as a keen and intensely interested observer of all that is going on in the great city. And he is not a mere looker-on, himself untouched. This man, whose first greeting to us is an outburst of indignation over what he sees, must have been for no inconsiderable time personally affected in some serious way by the life which he describes. In the earliest Satires, too, as every reader of Juvenal has noticed, the faulty rhetorical element, of which so much is wont to be made, is less conspicuous and offensive than elsewhere. The great difference between this part of his work and most of his later productions has found various explanations. We can not, indeed, but feel to some extent with the acute amputator of the
Friedlaender, S. 19. 2 Nettleship, p. 144; De Dompierre de Chaufepié, p. 27 sqq.; Friedlaender,
poet, that we possess the writings of two Juvenals. That he tried at first to produce real works of art, but finally abandoned the futile effort and consciously surrendered himself to rhetorical mannerism, and that his fire was but the blaze of rhetoric, and, being artificial, soon died down,' are views resting on the hypothesis that he was nothing but a rhetorician. From his change of manner may be drawn at least one certain conclusion: that in writing the first Satires he was decidedly less under the influence of the schools of rhetoric than later.
We have now, it is clear, the elements of a picture with which the Juvenal of the biography does not harmonize. The man who, in taking up his pen to castigate the vices of his time, came to his task with full knowledge gained by long personal contact with the world, who for ten years or more had been an advocate competent but handicapped by poverty, who as he assumed his new rôle had only a slur for the declamation of the schools and was far less under their universal influence than afterwards, when he had given vent to his wrath and accomplished, in the main, his original purpose—was not a gentleman of leisure, well-to-do and aimless, declaiming till middle lise for self-gratification, and then turning directly from artificial themes and thoughts to the successful cultivation of satire. Beyond the simple fact stated by Juvenal himself, that he once practised declamation, there is not one word of truth in the statement of the biography: ad mediam fere aetatem declamavit animi magis causa quam quod scholae se aut foro praepararet.
A false notion of the rhetorical studies of Juvenal, due largely to the fictions of the biography, has led to an equally false judgment of his character, a judgment vitally connected with the subject under consideration. It is not strange that the indignation of a purposeless declaimer should be regarded as more or less artificial, that he should be suspected of insincerity, and that his plainness of speech, measured by the standards of a different age, should be taken as a sign of prurience. When, however, we recognize in Juvenal the lawyer who had studied, it is true, in the schools of rhetoric, but for the purpose of fitting himself for active life, and who, in following his chosen calling, had battled with untoward circumstances and unjust conditions, what he says has quite a different force. We hear him speak in the manner in
Teuffel, Studien und Charakteristiken, Leipzig, 1889, S. 547. 2 Schanz, S. 344 f.
which we should expect an advocate-poet to speak. We feel the genuineness of his indignation whether he is dealing with the present or with the past. We see before us a man who, in the spirit of an advocate, gives us one side of a picture, but whose sincerity and honesty we have no reason whatever to impugn.
Having cleared the way by our discussion of the account of Juvenal's rhetorical studies, we may approach the associated question of his relationship to a rich freedman. On the threshold of our inquiry attention is arrested by the form of statement employed in the memoir. The biographer admits that he is uncertain whether Juvenal was the man's son or foster son. It has been thought that this admission points to a conscientious spirit on the part of the writer. The inference is charitable rather than plausible. We wonder why all traces of this remarkable scrupulosity are so conspicuously absent from the rest of the memoir, judging from which we have much greater reason to infer a wavering between two conjectures and lack of all definite information on the subject.
But dependence is not to be placed in divination. As before, it is only by recourse to the Satires that we can get solid ground beneath our feet. Fortunately, Juvenal has not left us in the dark concerning his sentiments toward rich freedmen. He has made this the most prominent type in his sketch of the company accustomed to gather at the rich man's door to receive the sportula. The patron bids his crier summon first the nobles, but a freedman blocks the way (1, 99 sqq.):
iubet a praecone vocari ipsos Troiugenas, nam vexant limen et ipsi nobiscum. da praetori, da deinde tribuno.' sed libertinus prior est. 'prior'inquit 'ego adsum. cur timeam dubitemve locum defendere, quamvis natus ad Euphraten, molles quod in aure fenestrae arguerint, licet ipse negem ? sed quinque tabernae quadringenta parant. quid confert purpura maior optandum, si Laurenti custodit in agro conductas Corvinus oves, ego possideo plus Pallante et Licinis?' expectent ergo tribuni, vincant divitiae, sacro ne cedat honori nuper in hanc urbem pedibus qui venerat albis, quandoquidem inter nos sanctissima divitiarum maiestas, etsi funesta pecunia templo nondum habitat, nullas nummorum ereximus aras.
1 Dürr, S. 11.
Here Juvenal has taken pains, at the expense of symmetry and unity, to indicate by a detailed description his aversion for a class brought to the front by the power of wealth. That citizens of noble stock, that magistrates holding sacred office in the Roman state should be compelled to yield precedence to such persons offends him. And it is the class as such that he has in mind. He does not by a word assail the character of the freedman. Nor can we doubt his sincerity. He is not elaborating a theme of the schools, but introducing himself to the public in his first book, in which, if anywhere, he speaks from the heart.
What is set forth in a general way in the passage quoted is illustrated by particular instances. If there was a man in all the world whom Juvenal hated, it was Crispinus the rich freedman. And he hated him as a freedman. He does not mention him without reference to his Egyptian origin (1, 26 sq.; 4, 32 sq.). It is also not improbable that the rich upstart (1, 3; 10, 226), once his barber, and the gladiators and criers, whose very sons excited his displeasure (3, 153 sqq.), are to be referred to the same class. His hostility to the rich, whoever they were, is a matter of common observation.'
A clear conception of the fixed sentiments of a man like Juvenal furnishes a basis for criticism. Conceding to him, as we have, sincerity and honesty, we must also regard him as a man of honor and justice, who had Roman ideas with respect to social distinctions, but hated hypocrites (Sat. 2), and believed in a proper return for services rendered and favors received (Sat. 7). If, now, as we are told in the memoir, he was the son of a rich freedman, or the foster son, in which case he may have been a freedman himself, we encounter the startling anomaly, that he looked with especial aversion upon the very class from which he sprang, or to which he belonged, and to a member of which he owed his education and, in the view of the biographer, easy circumstances for half his life. This can not be attributed to Juvenal. It will not suffice to say that he was ashamed of his birth and tried to conceal it. That might be true of a snob. But Juvenal has none of the characteristics of a snob. It is not permissible to cite as parallel the case of Horace, the son of a freedman, who makes a fierce attack upon a freedman (Epode 4). Horace has in mind a particular individual personally detestable (v. II sqq.). He nowhere attacks freedmen as a class. Nor can
1 Friedlaender, S. 20 ff.
Dürr, S. 12.