Roman poet Juvenal, prince of satirists, lived in a frenetic world which provided him with ample ammunition for his attacks on the ills and frills of society – many of them with us now as they were nearly 2000 years ago.
Juvenal decries the society he lives in, from prostitutes, perjurers, aristocrats, corrupt officials, faithless wives to even immigrants supposedly taking jobs from locals – targets so topical they might have been penned yesterday.
The reboot of this great classic is done in approachable free verse and modern language, giving the reader a fascinating glimpse, in a relaxed and easy style, into the daily lives of ordinary folk in the days of the Caesars.
Juvenal, last of the great Latin poets, is angered by the loss of old-fashioned values in a past he idealised, sets out with no-nonsense clarity the value of timeless truths: nobility springs not from ancestry but from doing right; the ideal to strive for is a ‘healthy mind in a healthy body’ and that modern society cares only for ‘bread and circuses’ – not all that different from today’s takeaway pizzas and excessive television watching.
The updating of his sixteen surviving poems from earlier English translations, done here in modern idiom, presents a fascinating mixture of statesmanlike approval and biting invective, giving today’s readers fresh insight into the human condition and the values – beyond time and place – which enrich our lives.
Suitable for both Roman enthusiasts and novices, Juvenal Revisited is essential for those wishing to continue their studies of the classical world.