JUVENAL: SATIRES by Jerome- Trans. Mazzaro


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Decimus Junius Juvenalis, known to us as simply Juvenal, chronicled what one might call the dolce vita of the Roman Empire's declining civilization. Like the director Federico Fellini, he too ""took the temperature of a sick world."" Unlike Fellini, however, he offers us a great deal more than just a flashy morality play. Indeed, stern as Juvenal is in picturing the cheap, hypocritical values of his day, there is in his Satires a profound sophistication, a variety of moods and nuances, all built upon and extending the classical tradition, even though his intent is often to deflate it. Militarist, office-holder, rhetorician, Juvenal knew the life of the court and of the study, as well as that of the back streets; his sixteen satires are portraits of metropolitan corruption, social-climbing antics, philosophic swindles. It is anti-epical in tone, witty, pessimistic, wryly sententious. In translation, these qualities rarely come across. Professor Mazzaro, working in the free, colloquial manner recently established by Robert Lowell in his Imitations, gives us a vibrant, swift-moving rendering. The manner works well enough for a short stretch; unfortunately, Mazzaro's Satires read as a whole proves a bit strident. ""Achilles' charioteers, stopped in their tracks/to show their bodies off to some rich queer..."" Too often this sort of jazziness palls.

Pub Date: April 23rd, 1965
Publisher: Univ. of Michigan Press