Humanities instructor Gilbert Highet called Juvenal (JEW-vuhn-uhl) “the greatest satiric poet who ever lived.” In his own time, Juvenal seems to have been largely ignored; of his contemporaries, only Martial refers to him. He was first appreciated by Christian writers, who found his strictures on pagan Rome congenial. Tertullian (c. 155-160 to after 217) borrowed phrases from him. Lactantius (c. 240-c. 320) praised the satirist. Decimius Magnus Ausonius (c. 310-c. 395) imitated his work, as did Ausonius’s pupils, Saint Paulinus of Nola (c. 352 or 353 to 431) and Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (c. 348-after 405). Saint Jerome (between 331 and 347-probably 420) in his treatise against marriage draws on Satire 6.
Non-Christian authors also began to appreciate Juvenal some 250 years after his death. Ammianus Marcellinus (c. 330-c. 395) claimed that among aristocrats of the late fourth century, Juvenal and the third century biographer Marius Maximus were the only two authors read. Servius (fourth century), in his commentary of Vergil, quotes Juvenal about seventy times. The Egyptian satirist Claudian (c. 370-c. 404) wrote two satires in imitation of Juvenal. Dante placed Juvenal among the righteous pagans in limbo, in the company of such other classical writers as Homer, Ovid, and Lucan.
Juvenal’s popularity increased during the Middle Ages. Aimeric’s Ars lectoria (1086; art of reading), which divided authors into categories of...
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Braund, S. H. Beyond Anger: A Study of Juvenal’s Third Book of Satires. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Though he focuses on Satires 7-9, Braund discusses all the poems, and his insights into book 3 illuminate Juvenal’s work.
Courtney, E. A Commentary on the Satires of Juvenal. London: Athlone Press, 1980. A substantial introduction discusses Juvenal’s life, themes, style, meter, and text. Courtney provides a useful introduction to each poem, followed by detailed analysis for individual words and lines.
Friedländer, Ludwig. Friedländer’s Essays on Juvenal. Translated by John R. C. Martyn. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1969. Consists of five chapters from Friedländer’s introduction to his 1895 edition of Juvenal. Still an excellent source for information about the satirist’s life, poetry, influence, and text.
Highet, Gilbert. Juvenal the Satirist: A Study. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1954. An accessible introduction to the life, work, and influence of the Roman satirist. Highet devotes a separate chapter to each satire.
Jones, Frederick. Juvenal and the Satiric Genre. London: Duckworth, 2007. Part of the Classical Literature and Society series, this work looks at Juvenal and the genre in which he wrote.
Juvenal. Juvenal: The Satires. Translated by Niall Rudd. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1991. A good modern translation with useful notes and introduction by William Barr.
_______. Juvenal: The Sixteen Satires. Translated by Peter Green. 3d ed. New York: Penguin, 1998. An idiomatic rather than literal translation, with an extensive (sixty-seven-page) introduction and helpful notes.
Plaza, Maria, ed. Persius and Juvenal. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. A collection of essays on Persius and Juvenal. A number discuss Juvenal and the genre of satire.