Page images




DECIMUS JUNIUS JUVENAL was born at Aquinum, a town of the Volsci, a people of Latium : hence, from the place of his birth, he was called Aquinas. It is not certain whether he was the son, or foster-child, of a rich freedman. He had a learned education, and, in the time of Claudius Nero, pleaded causes with great reputation. About his middle age he applied himself to the study of Poetry; and, as he saw a daily increase of vice and folly, he addicted himself to writing Satire : but, having said something (sat. vii. I. 88–92.) which was deemed a reflection on Paris the actor, a minion of Domitian's, he was banished into Egypt, at eighty years of age, under pretence of sending him as captain of a company of soldiers. This was looked upon as a sort of humourous punishment for what he had said, in making Paris the bestower of posts in the army.

However, Domitian dying soon after, Juvenal returned to Rome, and is said to have lived there to the times" of Nerva and Trajan. At last, worn out with old age, he expired in a fit of coughing

He was a man of excellent morals, of an elegant taste and judgment, a fast friend to Virtue, and an irreconcilable enemy to Vice in every shape.

2 Quanquam Octogenarius. MARSHALL, in Vit. Juv.
b Ibique ad Nervæ et Trajani tempora supervixisse dicitur. MARSHALL, ib,

[blocks in formation]

aim was,


As a writer, his style is unrivalled, in point of elegance and beauty, by any Satirist that we are acquainted with, Horace not excepted. The plainness of his expressions are derived from the honesty and integrity of his own mind : his great

“ to hold, as it were, the mirror up to nature; to “ shew Virtue her own feature, Scorn her own image, and the

very age and body of the time his form and pressure". He meant not, therefore, to corrupt the mind, by openly describing the lewd practices of his countrymen, but to remove every veil, even of language itself, which could soften the features, or hide the full deformity of vice from the observation of his readers, and thus to strike the mind with due abhorrence of what he censures. All this is done in so masterly a way, as to

render him well worthy Scaliger's encomium, when he styles > him, Omnium Satyricorum facile Princeps. He was much loved

and respected by Martiald. Quintilian speaks of him, Inst. Orat. lib. x. as the chief of Satirists. Ammianus Marcellinus says', that some who did detest learning, did, notwithstanding, in their most profound retiredness, diligently employ themselves in his works.

The attentive reader of Juvenal may see, as in a glass, a true portraiture of the Roman manners in his time: here he may see, drawn to the life, a people sunk in sloth, luxury, and debauchery, and exhibiting to us the sad condition of human naturé, when untaught by divine truth, and uninfluenced by a divine principle. However polite and refined this people was, with respect to the cultivation of letters, arts, and sciences, beyond the most barbarous nations, yet, as to the true knowledge of God, they were upon a footing with the most uninformed of their cotemporaries, and consequently were, equally with them, sunk into all manner of wickedness and abomination. The description of the Gentiles in general, by St. Paul, Rom. i. 19–32. is fully verified as to the Romans in particular. Juvenal

may be looked upon as one of those rare meteors, which shone forth even in the darkness of Heathenism.

c Hamlet, act iij, sc. 2.

d See Mart. lib. vii, epig. 24.

e Hist, lib, xxviii.

The mind and conscience of this great man were, though from' whence he knew not, so far enlightened, as to perceive the ugliness of vice, and so influenced with a desire to reform it, as to make him, according to the light he had, a severe and able reprover, a powerful and diligent witness against the vices and follies of the people among which he lived'; and, indeed, against all who, like them, give a loose to their depraved appetites, as if there were no other liberty to be sought after but the most unrestrained indulgence of vicious pleasures and gratifications.

How far Rome-Christian, possessed of divine revelation, is better than Heathen Rome without it, is not for me to determine: but I fear, that the perusal of Juvenal will furnish us with too serious a reason to observe, that not only modern Kome, but every metropolis in the Christian world, as to the generality of its manners and pursuits, bears a most unhappy resemblance to the objects of the following Satires. They are, therefore, too applicable to the times in which we live, and, in that view, if rightly understood, may, perhaps, be serviceable to many, who will not come within the reach of higher instruction,

Bishop Burnet observes, that the 5 satirical poets, Horace, “ Juvenal, and Persius, may contribute wonderfully to give a “ mån a detestation of vice, and a contempt of the common " methods of mankind ; which they have set out in such true

colours, that they must give a very generous sense to those “ who delight in reading them often.” Past. Çare, c. vii.

This translation was begun some years ago, at hours of leisure, for the Editor's own amusement: when, on adding the notes as he went along, he found it useful to himself, he began to think that it might be so to others, if pursued to the end on the same plan. The work was carried on, till it inereased to a considerable bulk. The addition of Persius enlarged it to its present size, in which it appears in print, with a design to add its assistance in explaining these difficult authors not only to school-boys and young beginners, but to numbers in a more advanced age, who, by having been thrown into various

f Rom. ii. 15. Comp, Is. xlv. 5. See sat. x, 1. 363. and note.

scenes of life, remote from classical improvement, have so far forgotten their Latin, as to render these elegant and instructive remains of antiquity almost inaccessible to their comprehension, however desirous they may be to renew their acquaintance with them.

As to the old objection, that translations of the Classics tend to make boys idle, this can never happen but through the fault of the master, in not properly watching over the method of their studies. A master should never suffer a boy to construe his lesson in the school, but from the Latin by itself, nor without making the boy parse, and give an account of every necessary word; this will drive him to his grammar and dictionary, near as much as if he had no translation at all : but in private, when the boy is preparing his lesson, a literal translation, and explanatory notes, so facilitate the right comprehension and understanding of the author's language, meaning, and design, as to imprint them with ease on the learner's mind, to form his taste, and to enable him not only to construe and explain, but to get those portions of the author by heart, which he is at certain periods to repeat at school, and which, if judiciously selected, he may find useful, as well as ornamental to him, all his life.

To this end I have considered that there are three purposes to be answered. First, that the reader should know what the author says; this can only be attained by: literal translation : as for poetical versions, which are so often miscalled translations, paraphrases, and the like, they are but ill calculated for this fundamental and necessary purpose.

They remind one of a performer on a musical instrument, who shews his skill by playing over a piece of music with so many variations, as to disguise almost entirely the original simple melody, insomuch that the hearers depart as ignorant of the merit of the composer as they came.

& I trust that I shall not be reckoned guilty of inconsistency, if in some few passages I have made use of paraphrase, which I have sa studiously avoided through the rest of the work, because the literal sense of these is better obscured than explained, especially to yourg minds.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

All translators should transfer to themselves the directions which our Shakespeare gives to actors, at least, if they mean to assist the student, by helping him to the construction, that he may understand the language of the author. As the actor is not “to o'erstep the modesty of nature;" so a translator is not to o'erstep the simplicity of the text. As an actor is not “ to speak more than is set down for him ; so a translator is not to exercise his own fancy, and let it loose into phrases and expressions, which are totally foreign from those of the author. He should therefore sacrifice vanity to usefulness, and forego the praise of elegant writing, for the utility of faithful translation.

The next thing to be considered, after knowing what the author says, is how he says it: this can only be learnt from the original itself, to which I refer the reader, by printing the Latin, line for line, opposite to the English, and, as the lines are nụmbered, the eye will readily pass from the one to the other. The information which has been received from the translation, will readily assist in the grammatical construction.

The third particular, without which the reader would fall very short of understanding the author, is to know what he means; to explain this is the intention of the notes, for many of which I gratefully acknowledge myself chiefly indebted to various learned commentators, but who, having written in Latin, are almost out of the reach of those for whom this work is principally intended. Here and there I have selected some notes from English writers: this indeed the student might have done for himself; but I hope he will not take it amiss, that I have brought so many different commentators into one view, and saved much trouble to him, at the expence of my own labour. The rest of the notes, and those no inconsiderable number, perhaps the most, are my own, by which, if I have been happy enough to supply any deficiencies of others, I shall be glad.

Upon the whole, I am, from long observation, most perfectly convinced, that the early disgust, which, in too many instances, youth is apt to conceive against classical learning

« PreviousContinue »