Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

Juvenal is a poet who has been understood in a variety of different, sometimes mutually exclusive, ways. This book continues the march away from the sincere and serious moralist, but it nevertheless finds in the poems the voice of someone reacting to a changing world and perhaps realizing that the battle for his own ideal was never, after all, winnable. Thus, I hope that I have been able to be one of the resisting readers envisioned by David Larmour (1991). Larmour’s 2016 study appeared too recently to have been fully taken into account in this manuscript, but our work explores many of the same issues....

Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction

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pp. 13-34

This book is an attempt to describe some of the ways in which the poems of Juvenal explore the relationship of the elite individual in Rome under the high empire to the world in which he lives and, to some extent, to himself. The sentence that you have just read needs to be parsed. First, the gender of the pronoun is not intended to generalize. For Juvenal, the circumstances of women are only relevant inasmuch as they form part of the world of men. Second, various readers may query my use of the word “elite,” since Juvenal long ago...

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Chapter 1: The Failed Satirist and the Failed Man

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pp. 35-72

Juvenal’s first poem introduces us both to the nature (thematic, stylistic, ideological) of his poetry and to the “satirist” as Juvenal conceives of him. We will see easily enough that Juvenal’s satirist has numerous concerns about wealth, gender, literature, education—the list is endless, as the poem says, quidquid agunt homines, “whatever people do.” At the same time, I think it will become clear that fundamental to Juvenal’s conception of the satirist is a baseline idea of what it means to be a Roman man as traditionally defined. After this chapter, it will be obvious that all of the many concerns of Juvenal (person or persona)...

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Chapter 2: The Body and the Failure of Autonomy

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pp. 73-104

In the last chapter we examined Juvenal’s programmatic first poem and followed the speaker’s growing realization that the social, political, and economic realities of his Rome would be primary determinants of the nature of his poetry and thus of his identity as a satirist. Just as importantly, the Juvenalian satirist is always a failure because he has laid claim to a frankness of speech that he can never afford to use. Against this backdrop, let us turn now to the kinds of detailed images this satirist creates. What troubles this speaker, for whom speech can only ever be so free?...

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Chapter 3: The Dangers of Debasement: Manhood and Class

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pp. 105-138

In the previous chapter, we saw that the body that cannot be protected, controlled, or even stabilized in a coherent male form serves as an index of the male subject who is always also potentially an object, a man whose lack of wealth or status can turn him into punching bag, scapegoat, school exercise, or ultimately even a woman. We have examined ways in which Juvenal’s poetry uses images of the body to play on and work out anxieties about what becomes of individuals who unwisely confront the powerful; who become, or believe that they have become, too insignificant for their societies to notice; who find...

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Chapter 4: A Woman’s World

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pp. 139-178

As we saw in chapter 1, the first two examples of outrageous behavior in Juvenal’s Satires both have to do with male anxieties about gender (1.22–23):

cum tener uxorem ducat spado, Meuia Tuscum figat aprum et nuda teneat uenabula mamma . . .

When a tender eunuch takes a wife, and Mevia pegs a Tuscan boar, holding her hunting spear at her bare breast. . . .

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Chapter 5: Economies of Manhood

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pp. 179-208

Our discussion so far has examined the particular ways in which Juvenal explores elite male anxieties over masculinity. As we have seen, women and effeminate men, the two contrastive categories that should help define a masculine norm, come under attack in Juvenal’s poetry only to call into question that norm, to suggest that the “real” men may be the ones missing out on the rewards of being men, or even worse, that those groups whose marginalization keeps the center central have developed ways of outdoing traditional Roman men. Thus...

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Conclusion

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pp. 209-214

Juvenal, or at least the speaker of each poem, is often considered a Roman conservative whose anger (in the indignant poems) is occasioned by the increasingly frequent refusal of others to play by the old rules and whose resignation (in those poems in which the speaker seems less angry) is to life in a world that, to his traditionalist sensibilities, has gone mad. Yet this formulation doesn’t always fit the work we have. As we have seen, the conservative rhetoric often undercuts itself. In some cases, this is accomplished through irony, but in other cases something more profound happens.1 Quoting Michael Seidel, Larmour ...

Bibliography

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pp. 215-226

Passages Cited

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pp. 227-230

Index

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pp. 231-236