The Satires of Juvenal

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by Juvenal

The Roman poet Juvenal is widely regarded as the greatest satirist who ever lived. He is also one of the most politically incorrect writers of all time. In spite of this, he is one of the classical authors with most to offer to the contemporary general reader.

Juvenal’s descriptions of dictatorship and poverty are compelling. His portrayals of depravity in a teeming ancient city are disturbingly – some would say disgustingly – vivid, and his assassinations of character devilishly delicious. His bêtes noires – such as unconventional women, opportunistic Greek immigrants and the Egyptian-born political heavy Crispinus – leap defiantly from the page.

In his later poems, savage indignation is integrated with deeper philosophical insight, culminating in his celebrated Tenth Satire, adapted by Dr. Johnson as “The Vanity Of Human Wishes”, and Satire Fifteen, an account of violence in the Middle East which anticipates events today.

Whatever you think of Juvenal, he will not leave you unmoved.

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— Juvenal, The Satires of Juvenal