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Sixteen Satires Unknown Binding – 1987

9 customer reviews

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  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B006X1AW9O
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Must I always be stuck in the audience, never get my own back for all the times I've been bored by that ranting Theseid of Cordus? Read the first page
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jon Chambers VINE VOICE on 31 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yes, Dr Jones may well be right in suggesting that there are better editions than this (although it would have been useful if he'd told us exactly which ones and why!). However, Peter Green arguably offers the best introduction to Juvenal's Satires. After all, Green is not writing for the specialist but for the average, intelligent reader - the kind of reader that Penguin Classics habitually caters for. Jones probably has scholars like Susanna Braund in mind and I'd imagine that her editions are those that professional classicists like him find most valuable. She offers an extremely perceptive commentary, full Latin text and a translation that is, I suspect, closer to the letter than Green's. But Braund comes at a hefty price - £18 for Volume I alone.

In any case, this Penguin edition has lots to offer besides value. Green captures the spirit and vitality, as well as the sharply ironic humour, of the original at least as well as Braund or Rudd, the two main competitors. His Juvenal sounds fresh, witty and modern (as well as occasionally loathsome, misogynistic and xenophobic). His Introduction, moreover, is extensive and engaging. It may well be 'old-fashioned' in its lack of enthusiasm for the 'persona theory' (ie the view that the poet is donning a mask and not voicing his own opinions, thereby preventing us from reading the satires as self-revelation). But Green does at least address 'the much-vexed question of Juvenal's satirical persona', and gives us an alternative approach. He inclines to the view that Juvenal's savage indignation resulted from humbling personal experience. According to long-held tradition, he was exiled - probably to Egypt.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A. Harden on 25 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
I studied this book for Classical Civilisation last year and found it an extremely refreshing rendering of an author whose medium (the satire) has been mauled and abused by even the best of English translators. I picked up a second much inferior translation of this book to reinforce my learning and instantly appreciated the quality of Peter Green's method: he avoids sucking the life out of Juvenal's poetry through prose translation but doesn't go so far as to force the advanced and passionate sentiments into dry showy Dryden-esque iambics or rhyming couplets. The result is an unrhyming semi-poetic rendering; beautifully and entirely naturally rhythmic. He also meets an audience mid-way between scholar and 'layman' by removing references to unknown people referred to in the text, thus avoiding clumsy English (which may also be seen as a trifle patronising on the translator's part), and providing an thorough endnotes and a bibliography for each satire. The introduction and preface are also hugely informative. However I find his (to me) unique method of applying endnotes a little irritating: he often places the endnotes twenty lines apart and then explains all of the different points in the preceeding twenty lines, rather than the more orthodox way of applying one note per reference. However this is, I assume, an attempt at making the experience of reading the work a more fluid one and only jarred on me as I was studying it in conjunction with other texts which use the more traditional method.
In any case this is a wonderful book, finally hitting that hard to reach mark between poetry and prose.
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Format: Paperback
Juvenal achieved the default goal of the unpublished writer. He is remembered long after his death. Little is known about Juvenal, other than what little he wrote about himself in his satires. Only one mention of him during his life survives. Martial dedicates Book 12:18 of his Epigrams to Juvenal, and mentions Juvenal's "influential friends," without naming them.

After Juvenal's death in about 140 AD, he is not mentioned again until after the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its established religion. That was two centuries later. Christian biographers claim that Juvenal achieved prominence during his life, but Juvenal does not mention this. The first sentence of his first satire complains, "Must I always be stuck in the audience of these poetry readings, never up on the platform."

In his seventh satire Juvenal complains about his poverty and obscurity. He wonders if he should have become a soldier, a sailor, or a farmer, rather than trying and failing to become a published writer. He also attributes the success of Bassus and Cicero to fate, and complains, "What school master, even the most successful, commands a proper return for his labors?" These are the sentiments of someone whose high goals for himself have not been met with success.

Juvenal's Satires consist of mean spirited denunciations of people who do not seem to have been evil. Reading them I longed for the gentle brush of Norman Rockwell. Rockwell was able to find goodness in anyone. Juvenal builds himself up by tearing others down, reminding me of what Eric Hoffer wrote in "The True Believer," "Self-contempt is here transmitted into hatred of others.
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