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The Sixteen Satires

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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,276 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Perhaps more than any other writer, Juvenal (c. AD 55-138) captures the splendour, the squalor and the sheer energy of everyday Roman life. In The Sixteen Satires he evokes a fascinating world of whores, fortune-tellers, boozy politicians, slick lawyers, shameless sycophants, ageing flirts and downtrodden teachers. A member of the traditional land-owning class that was rap ...more
Kindle Edition, 3rd, 324 pages
Published by Penguin Classics (first published 138)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,810)
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Rosa Ramôa
"É preciso ser-se rico para poder dormir sem barulhos,em calmas moradias(...).A passagem de carroças nas ruas estreitas ou as discussões por causa de um rebanho(...) tiram o sono a qualquer um.(...)E,se se isto não bastasse,há ainda outro género de perigos aos quais estamos expostos,quando caminhamos,de noite,pelas ruas:frequentemente,das janelas,das varandas ou dos telhados tombam tijolos,vasos ou telhas,que nos podem esmagar os crânios (...).Podemos dar-nos por felizes se apanharmos com o cont ...more
Justin Evans
I've long been sceptical of contemporary novels that are advertized as satires. Consider Jonathan Coe's 'Rotters' Club,' which was okay, but compared even to a supposedly realistic novel like 'The Line of Beauty,' contained little satire beyond its propensity for pointing out that people ate some really bad food in the seventies. So I finally got around to reading Juvenal, and my scepticism has been gloriously affirmed: yes, satire can be really, really mean; it can be full of almost explosive m ...more
Caroline
Full of invective, rage, bitterness, caustic crustiness, misogeny, erotic inventiveness and a wicked sense of humor. This is heavy handed satire, not tongue in cheek kidding. But once you get used to it, quite bracing. Juvenal was disgusted by the licentiousness, gluttony, double-dealing, greed and various other vices that he saw around him in an unthreatened city--far different from the embattled Rome that bred men (and, presumably, respectable matrons) of the Republic. Question: would Juvenal ...more
Jim
If you would like a glimpse of everyday life in Ancient Rome, you could hardly do better than read The Sixteen Satires of Juvenal. There, like a National Lampoon chiseled in stone, are all the everyday flaws -- that are still flaws today -- that mess up people's lives. It is all done with a light touch. At one point, talking about the fate of Aelius Sejanus, who was the Emperor Tiberius's number one man, he writes:
Some men are overthrown by the envy their great power
Arouses; it's that long and i
...more
Dave/Maggie Bean
Juvenal was foulmouthed, cynical, and embittered, his mind a veritable cesspool of wealth-envy and entitlement. But he was a keen observer of the human condition, and the effete, decadent Rome he satirizes is eerily similar to modern America. There is truly nothing new under the sun. Could Juvenal’s satirical commentary on his own time serve as a cautionary tale for our own?

Probably not. "We’re an empire now -- we create our own reality…"

Or do we?

Composed in the first century AD,(and mangled ove
...more
John
Juvenal was an angry, angry man. If he were living today, he would probably be a regular caller to radio talk shows, blathering on about how kids today have no respect and gays and liberals and Obamacare are ruining this great country. Instead, he lived in the 1st Century CE and wrote satires. Fortunately, in addition to the anger, he had a deadly sense of humor. From a modern perspective, many of these screeds are politically incorrect: Juvenal goes after homosexuals, women and foreigners. On t ...more
Jennie
Feb 20, 2008 Jennie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennie by: The Boy
Shelves: classical-lit
There is something strangely satisfying about reading a book from a couple thousand years ago and being able to shout out things like, "Oooh, burn," and "Bitch, you got schooled," every couple of pages. Juvenal is one of the earliest masters of snark, and therefore, one of my heroes. Unfortunately, this type of humor tends to be closely linked to the political and cultural context in which it was written, and having to read page-long endnotes to get the joke sometimes took the oomph out of the p ...more
Yann
La Rome impériale voit arriver le règne de l'argent roi, de la luxure, des inégalités sociales, de la gloutonnerie, des excès les plus divers. Juvénal, outré par les turpitudes de ses contemporains se livre ici à une exécution en réglé de ceux qui excitent son indignation en déchirant à belles dents la respectabilité dont ils veulent commettre l'imposture de se parer. Il en évoque sans ménagement l'écart abyssal entre les héros et les valeurs de l’ancien temps et les mesquineries de leurs descen ...more
Christel
"We are now suffering the calamities of long peace. Luxury, more deadly than any foe, has laid her hand upon us, and avenges a conquered world...wealth enervated and corrupted the ages with foul indulgences.”
Dyah Subagyo
In order to understand this book well, you need to know some characters and stories from Greek and Roman mythology, as well as some from Roman Republic and Empire history. Some names are quite famous, such as Cicero, Catiline, Messalina, Domitian. Some are not. I will be very glad to get an e-book edition with annotation.
After reading Juvenal, I understand why his work can survive the Church censoring. Although he is certainly a pagan, a heathen if you will, many values in his work echo the val
...more
Wendy
Having recently finished Stephen Colbert's I am an American, this book hit me with a strange "de ja vu" feeling (go figure). Never mind that Juvenal wrote his Satires around 80 to 90 AD in/around the city of Rome. Like Colbert, Juvenal concocts a bombastic, "holier than thou" alter ego narrator who rails on every vice afflicting his contemporary culture, from avarice to homosexuality to the female sex. Although Juvenal the narrator voices his strong opinions in an over-exaggerated way (some time ...more
John
. . . . The breadth of poetic tones Humphries confronts in his translations and the apparent effortlessness of his execution is nothing short of breath-taking. From the high dignity of Virgil, through the hilarious vulgarity of Martial and back to the Wordsworthian philosophizing (without the Wordsworthian pomposity) of Lucretius. From Ovid’s serious and finally tragic playfulness to all the well-placed grumpiness of that curmudgeon Juvenal. Humphries achieved a feat of poetic translation I woul ...more
Chris
(This rating reflects a casual reading from someone (me) with limited knowledge of the period and an appreciation for satire. It is clearly important work, and it is fitting that some who read Juvenal to better understand Rome, in the end find themselves studying Rome to better understand Juvenal.)

You would expect the centuries-long decline of Rome to produce some strong conservative sentiments, and Juvenal doesn't disappoint. Like any good conservative, he has a host of accusations - some right
...more
Bob
I was definitely disappointed. Juvenal comes off (to me) as one part Holden Caulfield, one part angry old man. I'm not a fan of either. Lamenting at the state of mankind is inherently depressing, and there just wasn't enough humor, hyperbole or anything else to dull his edge (admittedly, this is characteristic of what is now called Juvenalian satire). Many of his complaints are fairly obvious, and therefore I did not find much of what he had to say as elucidating with regards to societal ills. I ...more
M. Milner
I wasn't expecting a ton from this collection, so I wasn't really surprised by it. Juvenal was a Roman poet back in the first century AD and his 16 existant satires are blistering broadsides against his society, one which he thinks is filled with decadence, corruption, vice and foreign (especially Greek) influences (If only he lived to see the Byzantines!).

It's an interesting collection. Juvenal's stuff occasionally drifts into complete bitterness, but a few images have stuck with me: the pedes
...more
Andy
The conservative's lament. Juvenal, in his Satires, reminded me of nothing quite so much as an angry right-wing talk show host, feet firmly planted on the soapbox and mic in hand, sarcastically excoriating modern society. The government, women, foreigners, gays, city-dwellers, philosophers, the rich, all of these at various points get the sharp end of Juvenal's literary stick. He doesn't have his own particularly clear philosophy on what defines the good life, but he is happy to mock and sneer a ...more
John Meffen
Loved it, Iunius Iuvenalis was a man after my own heart, he was cynical, distrustful, and quite disparaging towards most of his society.

He seems to have reserved most of his bile for Women, The Greeks, The plebeians, the Roman Emperors, anyone who worked with their hands, anyone who was successful but didn't work with their hands [dancers, gladiators, etc] foreigners in Rome.

He seems to barely tolerate unsuccessful poets, rhetors, lawyers and beggars, as long as they kept in their place.

What a b
...more
Michael David
One thousand and seven hundred years before Jonathan Swift, there was Decimus Junius Juvenalis, known to us as Juvenal. Like Jonathan Swift, he was angry - very angry. What Swift expounded upon in his Modest Proposal Juvenal had already introduced in his Satires. He heaps anathema on nearly everything and everyone, and does so with such sharp and mordant wit that it becomes truly funny at times. Because, however, the time and the place are dated, and the people he talks about are now unknown, hi ...more
Michael
Quire an easy read in this translation, despite the chapter notes and introduction. Juvenal would be right at home in the modern world as all his favorite targets exist today. Bureaucracy, politics, military, sexual mores are all here.
Shawn
This might be the worst thing I've ever read.
Juvenal writes these basically long poems regarding the events of his time in such a way that they are practically written in code and you have no idea what or who he is talking about.
It is not a matter of bad translation from 1,900 years ago to the present. It is just very vague writing.
There are notes in the back of the book which attempt to help. However, the satires are 120 pages and the notes are 100 pages. Which means you are constantly flipping
...more
Craig Herbertson
Juvenal should be compulsory reading for grumpy old men as the ancient satirist attacks the many failings of Roman society in much the same manner as the better comedians attack our own moral decline.

Here's a comment from Satire VI on a friend's decision to get married:

'You were once the randiest Hot-rod-about-town, you hid in more bedroom cupboards then a comedy juvenile lead.'

If you're an extreme feminist I might avoid Juvenal unless you want a support for the retrenchment of your opinions - o
...more
David
Juvenal is most famous for his "bread and circuses" quote and perhaps for his question "but who will guard the guardians?" His satires, though, ought to be read in entirety for anyone wanting to know what it was really like to live in Rome during a time of affluence and corruption. The reader will immediately note the many parallels between Rome and the United States and be impressed by the timelessness and wisdom of Juvenal's observations.

This particular translation was very readable, and the f
...more
pax
Juvenal is hilarious: an incredibly good observer of human errors, bur himself bitter, unfair, inconsistent. So much, that it verges on comedy. Definitely worth reading, especially given how a lot of things he bemoans people are *still* complaining about - just pick up any newspaper. Get however a) an edition with all 16 satires (the more bawdy ones are not included in some collections and you can imagine what kind of translation the other 13 then may endure) b) get a well-commented edition (did ...more
Llew
Just a litany of harsh criticism of Greek society. Similar to the Satyrica, a bit harder to read (somewhat non-linear), yet still I love this stuff. Every sentence is a dressing down and summation of various social mavens and their hypocritical predilections. You know the ones that beat their slaves for dropping a spoon and then throw a dinner party to announce their acts of virtue? No, not really, but I liked reading about it. Still, the translation is creative enough that it reads like it was ...more
Daniel
First read this in a Roman civilization course in college, and enjoyed it so much, I read it a few more times since, always for a laugh. It is a hilarious account of everyday Roman life from one of Rome's greatest satirists. And to me it is a reminder how little we have really changed in 2000 years. If they had reality TV back then, Romans would be all over it...oh, wait, actually they kind of did, it was called gladiator games.
Richard
Jun 29, 2010 Richard marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: Melvyn Bragg's "In Our Time"
Shelves: classic, fiction
After listening to the Roman Satires podcast of Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time, I decided I had to investigate — at least — Juvenal and Seneca's Apocolocyntosis ("The pumpkinification of Claudius").
Kevin
Absolutely hysterical. Juvenal attacks anything and everything in this book in Ancient Rome. His complaints would ring just as clearly today. Only real issue is the expectation that you've read and absorbed Homer, Virgil, Ovid et al. It detracts from the understanding somewhat, but is still worth reading, especially since the end notes fill in a good portion of the missed references.
Roger Burk
Juvenal lived around 100 AD and wrote these poems to criticize the decadent Roman society he saw around him. It seems Roman polite society was all vanity, pretense, extravagance, tastelessness, empty show, affairs, promiscuity, abortions, gluttony, poisonings, and inheritance-chasing--in other words, pretty much like today, except maybe for the poisonings.
B. Rule
Juvenal is the king of periphrasis, typically used in the service of homophobic, misogynistic, cynical insults. Obviously, he's fun to read. The notes in this edition give great insight into Roman culture through the lens of one of its most acerbic satirists.
Caroline
The low rating is due to my personal feelings on the satires than any sort of judgement on the poet's skill. As a matter of fact, the poems themselves are pretty masterfully written. I just really hated the cynical and pessimistic content. Martial is much more fun.
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  • Pharsalia: The Civil War
  • The Comedies
  • Epigrams
  • The Pot of Gold and Other Plays
  • The Erotic Poems
  • The Satyricon
  • Odes and Epodes (Loeb Classical Library)
  • Idylls
  • The Letters of the Younger Pliny
  • The Georgics
  • The Odes
  • The Complete Poems
  • Natural History: A Selection
  • The Nature of the Gods
  • The Histories
  • The Jugurthine War and The Conspiracy of Catiline
  • The Later Roman Empire: A.D. 354-378
5838650
Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, known commonly by the shortened Anglicized version of his name Juvenal, was a Roman poet of the late first and early second centuries AD/CE. He is the author of The Satires, a series of sixteen short poems in dactylic hexameter on a variety of subjects.

Date of birth: ca. 55 A.D.
Date of death: ca. 138 A.D.
More about Juvenal...
Juvenal and Persius Satires, Book I Contro le donne Satires I, III, X Satirarum Libri Quinque: Accedit Sulpiciae Satira

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“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Who will watch the watchers?” 73 likes
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