Page images
PDF
EPUB

2. A distinct aristocracy of education, somewhat inclined to dilettantism no doubt, but still refined and not immoral ; sometimes coinciding with the old aristocracy of birth, but more frequently consisting of men like Pliny from the municipal towns.

3. A class of philosophers, with high ideals and pure morality, not without influence on society, though kept in the background through a suspicion on the part of the emperors that they constituted a political opposition. Some of them were Italians like Thrasea, Helvidius Priscus, Arulenus Rusticus, Junius Mauricus; others from the provinces, like Euphrates, Artemidorus, and Musonius.

4. Among the lower classes Christianity was at work below the surface. Juvenal knows nothing of it, Tacitus very little, and Pliny nothing till he came across it in Bithynia ; but it was certainly there, and as certainly not without some leavening effect.

5. Under Trajan and Hadrian there was certainly a reform, political primarily, but to some extent moral and social too, which Juvenal passes by unnoticed.

6. Much simplicity and purity of domestic life among the humbler classes, as testified to by inscriptions.

JUVENAL AS A RHETORICIAN

We have seen that the Lives are almost unanimous in asserting that up to the middle period of his life Juvenal devoted himself to rhetoric and declamation, and the truth of this assertion receives a good deal of indirect internal evidence from the Satires themselves. But while all the Satires bear traces of Juvenal's rhetorical tastes and modes of treatment, some do so more than

[ocr errors]

others. Four Satires in particular (x., xii., xiii., xiv.) are essentially declamatory in tone, and are in fact, as has already been remarked, more like moral homilies, didactic and rhetorical, than Satires as the word is generally understood. So marked, indeed, is this feature in the Satires enumerated that the well-known German scholar, Prof. Otto Ribbeck, in a book entitled Der echte und der unechte Juvenal, has with a good deal of hypercritical ingenuity propounded the theory that while Juvenal himself wrote Sat. i.-ix., xi., and possibly xvi., some rhetorician or declamator wrote the other so-called Satires, and published them together with the genuine work of Juvenal after his death, ascribing them all to the same author. This theory has naturally made no converts, and I do not mention it here for the value of its conclusion, but because Ribbeck in working it out has undoubtedly shown in a very striking light the difference between Juvenal's earlier and later work.

In the first place, in all the earlier Satires there is contact with real life at every turn. Juvenal is clearly describing what he sees every day; his pictures are vivid and lifelike; he has an intimate acquaintance with the shady side of Roman life; allusions to current or recent events are frequent, and the numerous characters brought into his pages belong, if not exactly to the time in which he wrote, yet mostly to the period immediately preceding the

persons are certainly real persons, and Juvenal has known them. In the later Satires, on the other hand, we have very little that is definite; the pictures are comparatively colourless and fanciful; the proper names occurring are both fewer in number and belong to persons who are otherwise unknown, persons whom even

it ;

the scholiast is often not able to identify, while of those who are known several may have been taken from the earlier Satires. We here find very few descriptions of Roman life. In great part the Satires might have been written by one who had never seen Rome, though there are one or two exceptions to this, such as the description of the pompa Circensis in x. 35, etc.; of the harbour at Ostia in xii. 75, etc. ; the reference to some theft from the temple of Mars Ultor in xiv. 261. Such descriptions as those of the fall of Sejanus (x. 66, etc.), the marriage of Messalina (x. 330), and others, might have been, and no doubt were, taken from literature. Another point of distinction is that while in the earlier Satires Juvenal professed to discard mythological subjects in order to deal with actual life (i. 55 foll.), and for the most part does so, in the later Satires, on the other hand, references to mythology are comparatively frequent, e.g. the Index will show that mention is made of Nestor, Peleus, Ajax, Ulysses, Priam, Alcinous, Antiphates, Circe, Iphigenia, Orestes, Hippolytus, the golden fleece, Menoeceus, Prometheus, etc. Again, while the Roman characters in the first class are with a few exceptions, such as Tigellinus, etc., taken from Domitian's reign, those in the second class often come from republican days, while characters from Greek history are often introduced. Thus we have Pompeius, Caesar, Antonius, Cicero, Cato, Catilina, Cethegus, Marius, Mithridates, Pyrrhus, Lucretia, the Decii; and from Greek history, Xerxes, Alexander, Demosthenes, Croesus, Solon, etc. In fact, rhetorical theses, which in the earlier Satires are mentioned only to be laughed at, are in the later ones not uncommonly worked in and dovetailed into the general structure of the Satire. Instances are Marius at Minturnae, Croesus and Solon, the career of Hannibal, the ambition and death of Alexander, and many others. Further, in the earlier Satires Juvenal shows no signs of any interest in philosophy, philosophers being either passed over in silence or laughed at, as in Sat. ii. ; in the later poems, on the other hand, the Satirist shows some tendency to dabble in philosophy, though not indeed as a professed student of it, for this he expressly disclaims (xiii. 120), but still so far as to support his own moral platitudes by reference to wellknown philosophical names, such as Zeno, Chrysippus, Thales, Pythagoras, Democritus, Heraclitus, etc., though it is almost certain that he knew these authorities only second-hand, perhaps through Seneca's writings.

Once more, as in the earlier Satires a more intimate knowledge is shown of Rome and Roman life, so in the later ones more frequent reference is made, generally by way of illustration and allusion, to places outside Italy, in such a way, however, as to show generally (Britain and Egypt may be exceptions) that the references are merely literary, and were not derived from personal travels. Instances are Africa, the Atlas Mountains, Tabraca, Meroe, the blue eyes of Germans, the goître among Alpine tribes, Thrace, etc. etc.

As a last point it may be noticed very briefly, for much could be written on this subject, that literary reminiscences, though doubtless not altogether absent from the earlier Satires, are very much more frequent in the later ones. As a few instances out of many, the following may serve :-x. 123 is a reminiscence of Cic. Phil. ii. 118; x. 258 of Cic. Tus. disp. i. 35, 85; xiii. 112-113 of Hom. II. v. 785 and 859; xv. 66 of Hom. II. v. 304 ; xv. 15 of Hom. Od. ix. foll. ; xiv. 204 is almost certainly a reminiscence of a story in Suetonius, Vesp. 23 ; xiv. 25 of Hor. Ep. i. 2, 43; x. 292 of Verg. Aen. i. 502 ; xiv. 215 of Verg. Georg. ii. 363; xv. 65 of Verg. Aen. xii. 846, etc. ; xv. 5 foll. of Herod. ii. 68, etc.

These are the main grounds, in addition to the more impalpable arguments derived from the feebler style, more frequent repetitions, more constantly occurring redundancies and awkward digressions, which have suggested to Ribbeck his characteristically German theory as to the genuine and the spurious Juvenal. I will only mention, without dwelling on, three lines of argument against a view which never has and probably never will commend itself to any one besides its author. (1) In the first place, the faults of redundancy, repetition, and rhetorical extravagance which Ribbeck points out in the later Satires are also to be met with, though perhaps less frequently, in the earlier ones. This Ribbeck partly admits, but meets the argument by asserting that the passages in the earlier Satires where these features meet us most strongly are also interpolations by the later declamator. Such arguments are always dangerous, and in this case the assumption seems to be more than ordinarily gratuitous. (2) The difference of character between the two classes of Satires may be naturally enough explained on other grounds. Juvenal, though he wrote nothing for the public under Domitian, very possibly may have been collecting materials ; he was doubtless smarting with indignation at his real or fancied grievances, and as soon as the gag which silenced him was removed by Domitian's death, and the establishment

« PreviousContinue »