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Julian Meynell's Books

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Juvenal's Satires

The Sixteen Satires - Juvenal, Peter Green, Wendell Vernon Clausen

This work is 16 satirical poems.  My edition has an introduction by the translator that compares Juvenal to Dickens, which is a comparison that I find incredibly unhelpful.  I don't think that I have ever read anything like them.  They are basically angry rants, and have the nasty humor of a celebrity roast.  They can be quite funny and are not in the slightest bit filtered.  He mocks one woman by saying that all the lumps of flesh from her abortions look like her uncle, so be warned.

Juvenal is an inconsistent angry moralist.  He wants us to return to an idealized past, but he also mocks that idealized past as ignorant acorn-eaters.  He is really a sort of angry old man "hey-kids-get-off-my-lawn type, or a fox news type, but writing in poetry with bitterness and with nothing off limits, and the raciest nastiest humor.  I've never encountered anything like it.

However, while it almost should be read as a pretty much unique document and while he has a way with words.  I'm not sure that they are really anything more than the best written angry invective full rants of all time, so they maybe do not have much value in the big scheme of things (although if you want very clever homophobic slurs this is the best place you could ever come for them).