Satires "A Sound Mind In A Sound Body"

Juvenal

"A Sound Mind In A Sound Body"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In his satires Juvenal notes the faults of almost every phase of life–the hypocrisy of scholars, the subjugation of the poor by the wealthy and the extravagance of the poor, the tyranny of rulers, the fickleness and baseness of women, the difficulty faced by those producing works of literature and art, the degeneration of the nobility and the retention of pride, the condition of servitude of one who sins, the vanity of worldly desires, the extravagance and luxury of the times, the poor examples set by parents for their children, and the unjust control of civil affairs by military forces. In the tenth satire, directed at the vanity of human wishes, Juvenal points out the difficulties incurred by those who desire and receive power, beauty, longevity, or any of the most coveted human wishes. Since it is the nature of man to pray for things desired, the writer suggests that:

. . . your prayer must be that you may have a sound mind in a sound body. Pray for a bold spirit, free of all dread of death; that reckons the closing scene of life among Nature's kindly boons; that can endure labour, whatever it be; that knows not the passion of anger; that covets nothing; that deems the gnawing cares of Hercules, and all his cruel toils, far preferable to the joys of Venus, rich banquets, and the downy couch of Sardanapalus. I show thee what thou canst confer upon thyself. . . .