« PreviousContinue »
PRINTED BY N. BLISS, FOR R. BLISS, AND R. BLISS, JUN.
DECIMUS JUNIUS JUVENAL was born at Aqninum, 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, 1. 88-92.) which was deemed a reflection on Paris the actor, a minion of Domitian's, he was banished into Ægypt, at *eighty years of age, under pretence of sending him as captaina of a company of soldiers. This was looked upon as a sort of humorous punishment for what he had said, in making Paris the bestower of posts in the army .
However, Domitian dying soon after, Juvenal ree turned to Rome, and is said to have lived there to the times t of Nerva and Trajan. At last, worn out with old age, he expired in a fit of coughing. * Quanquam Oetogenarius.--MARSHALL, in Vit. Jur.
+ Ibique ad Nervæ et Trajani tempora supervixisse dicitur, MARSHALL, Ib.
He was a man of excellent morals, of an elegant taste and judgment, a fast friend to Virtue, and an irreconcil able enemy to Vice in every shape.net Falco
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 exx pressions are derived from the honesty and integrity of his own mind: his great aim was—-" 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 inasterly 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 † Martial. Quintilian speaks of him, Inst. Orat. lib. X. as the chief of Satirists
Ammianus Marcellinus says, that some who did de test learning, did, notwithstanding, in their most profound retiredness, diligently employ themselves in his works. · The attentive reader of Juvenal may see, as in ja 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:
* Hamlet, act iii. scene 2.
Hist. lib. xxviii. ..
+ See Mart. lib. vii. epig. 24. in
the sad condition of human nature, when untaught by divine truth, and uninfluenced by a divine principles However polite and refined this people was, with res spect to the cultivation of letters, arts, and sciences, beyond the most barbarous nations ; yct, as to the true knowledge of God, they were 'upon a footing with the most uninformed of their cotemporaries, and corises quently were; equally with them, sunk into all manner of wickedness and abomination. The description of the Gentiles in general, by St. Paul, Rom. i. 1932. is fully verified as to the Romans in particular.'* ** y Juvenal may be looked upon as one of those rare meteors, which shone forth even in the darkness of Heatheniêm The mind and conscience of this great man were, though from * whence he knew not, so far en: lightened, 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 witňess against the vices and follies of the people among which he lived"; and, indeed, against all, who, like thein, give a loose to their depraved åppetites, as if there were no other liberty to -be sought after, but the most unrestrained indulgence of vicious pleasures and gratifications. : román .-W.6. 2.)? 2 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 Juvenak will furnish us with too serious a reason to obsérve, that, not only modern Rome, but every metropolis in the Christian world, as to the generality of its manners and pursuits, bears a most unhappy resemblance to * Rom. ii. 15. Comp. Is. xlv. 5. See sat. x. l. 363, and note.