Juvenal's Satire 3 and the Morality of Rome

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  • Juvenal's Satire 3 and the Morality of Rome
    • "But now the holy fount and grove and shrine are let out to Jews... the Muses have been ejected
      • Juvenal is saying that the religion of Rome has been diluted by the influx of Jews and the traditional God's are no longer worshipped.
        • Morality and religion are interlinked so a decline in one implies a decline in the other and vice-versa.
    • "...There is no room for honest callings in this city, no reward for labour."
      • Implies that those who are lazy are the ones who are rewarded. Rome is full of dishonest men and there is no room for a "decent profession"
    • "These men were once horn blowers...they are the kind that Fortune raises from the gutter to the mighty places of earth..."
      • Those of theatrical professions, i.e. the lowlife's, have been raised to the most important offices for seemingly no reason.
        • The noble professions of Rome are no longer held by noble Romans. They are held by those of dubious lifestyles e.g. Actors
          • Implies that those who are lazy are the ones who are rewarded. Rome is full of dishonest men and there is no room for a "decent profession"
    • "No man will get my help in robbery, and therefore no governor will take me on his staff..."
      • Juvenal is saying that those who are under governors command must be good at stealing. Probably a reference to tax-farming
      • He is also implying that vices, rather than virtues, are required to get on the staff of governors or other members of office.
    • "What man wins favour unless he is an accomplice..?"
      • Those who win favour are those who have committed crimes or are willing to commit crimes for their "patron"
        • He is also implying that vices, rather than virtues, are required to get on the staff of governors or other members of office.
    • "I cannot abide a Rome of Greeks; and yet what fraction of our dregs come from Greece?"
      • Greeks = Any foreigner. Juvenal is complaining at the number of foreigners in Rome and is saying that Rome is more foreign than Roman.
        • They are polluting Rome with their "lingo...flutes and manners". The Romans have been corrupted by the Greeks and now even use Greek words and admire Greek sports (i.e. wrestling).
      • They are "all ready to worm their way into the houses of the great and become their masters"
        • The foreigners only desire to become the masters of powerful men, to enslave the Romans.
      • "Is it to go so utterly for nothing that as a babe I drank in the air of the Aventine, and was nurtured on the Sabine berry?"
        • Pure Roman status has been usurped by foreigners.
          • "No: There is no room for any Roman here."
            • Rome has a new set of virtues which Juvenal portrays as incompatible with true Romans.
    • "Nowhere is it so easy as at Rome to throw an old client overboard."
      • Traditional bonds between people i.e. the patron-client bond, which are usually very strong bonds, are now discarded as if they meant nothing.
        • This shoes and obvious decline in the moral lives of those in Rome as this sort of amicitia was highly valued.
    • "Here in Rome, the son of free-born parents has to give the wall to some rich mans slave."
      • Juvenal is showing the issues that have arisen regarding the normal inter-class boundaries. Freedmen are typically above slaves and should have right of way.
        • Something must have gone very wrong for the slaves of rich men to have so much influence so much so that freedmen are forced to make way for the slaves.
    • "A man's word [in court] is believed in exact proportion to the amount of cash which he keeps in his strong box."
      • Quite self-explanatory. It is wrong to believe a man's statement in court purely based off the amount of money/land he owns.
    • "It is no easy matter, anywhere, for a man to rise when poverty stands in the way...but nowhere is the effort harder than in Rome, where you must pay a big rent for a wretched lodging."
      • Poor men have no chance to advance in Roman life as houses, let alone anything else e.g. the need for a huge sum of money, are too expensive to allow advancement.
        • It appears that Juvenal is saying that only the aristocrats and/or the equites and/or rich novi homines can have a hope of entering Roman politics. Again this would appear morally wrong.
    • In Rome, everyone dresses above his means... We all live in a state of pretentious poverty."
      • Materialistic and consumerist society. They live in a state of excess but make it look like they live in poverty, hence "pretentious poverty"
    • "The bailiff patches up the cracks in the old wall, bidding the inmates sleep at ease under a roof ready to tumble about their ears."
      • Houses are not fixed properly, the landlord does a both-job of fixing the building. Morally wrong.
        • The language used also implies the flats are more like prisons as those who live there are said to be "inmates"
    • "Though he is destitute and begging for a bite, no-one will help him with a meal, no one offer him board or shelter. But if the grand house of Asturicus be destroyed... Before the house has ceased to burn, up one comes with a gift of marble or of building materials..."
      • Citizens are willing to help the rich when they are in trouble, probably to gain favour, but are not prepared to help those who actually need the help. Morally bad/wrong.


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