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  • Mayor's Juvenal: "Thirteen Satires" with new introduction and bibliography by John Henderson
  • Cedric Littlewood
J.E.B. Mayor. Mayor's Juvenal: "Thirteen Satires" with new introduction and bibliography by John Henderson, 2 volumes. Bristol Phoenix Press, 2007. Pp. xxx + lvi +525; xx + 451. US $139.95. ISBN: 1904675700.

In the mid-1990s John Henderson wrote to Latinists, mainly working in England, and asked if they made use of J.E.B. Mayor's two-volume text and commentary on Juvenal. This work dates from 1886, just too late for significant changes to be made to the text in the light of revisions Jahn made to his own 1851 edition, which came out in the same year. Of the hundred Latinists who replied, sixty-five, of whom I was one, used it in their research, though only nine included it on reading lists for teaching. Henderson published a biography of Juvenal's Mayor: the Professor who lived on 2d. a Day (Cambridge 1998) with Mayor's Juvenal republished with a new introduction and bibliography (on Mayor as well as Juvenal) in 2007. In his introduction Henderson advises the reader in separate sections how to use and how to read lxxvi + 976 pages of Victorian scholarship on a mere twelve and a half satires (a planned 'adults only' supplement for Satires 2, 6 and 9 never materialized). To read the commentary is "to put Mayor's life and times together with his Juvenal" (xv). Although we should of course always be conscious of the critical tradition on which any work of scholarship is founded, I suspect that mere users of this commentary will outnumber its readers, who will in any case have recourse to Henderson (1998). However, I enjoyed Mayor's fifty-three page "advertisement" far [End Page 486] too much to pass over the frame through which he read Juvenal. The Reverend Professor records that "Bishop Wordsworth used heathen classics, as well as the Christian scriptures and fathers, to train the students … to a life of soberness"(xxvii) and Henderson observes that in Juvenal's satires Mayor found "sermons fit for voicing anew" (xx). A significant proportion of the "advertisement" juxtaposes maxims from Juvenal with evidence from modern reformers and Mayor's own opinions: "Let those who are more conversant with the economy strike me, but hear me, when I make a few suggestions" (xxx)—twelve, numbered proposals for land reform in fact. Si vacat ac placidi rationem admittis, edam. "In my own childhood Cheshire farmers lived on their own produce: xi 77–81 haec olim nostri iam luxuriosa senatus / cena fuit" (xxxi). "ii 159–166 arma quidem ultra / litora Iuvernae promovimus…. Sir Charles Warren tells us that we have taken the Bible and brandy to S. Africa, but brandy first, which the native laws prohibited. On India and on China we have forced opium, to raise a revenue; and break down the barriers which oriental religions oppose to drunkenness." Quoted or not, Juvenal shows through. Much of Mayor's "advertisement" may be read for Victorian social interest—"We have only just begun to make vice difficult for rich men; while poor women, their prey, have till lately received neither mercy nor redress. If women were electors, laws would deal more equal justice" (xxxv–xxxvi).

However entertaining, this is not why sixty-five out of one hundred Latinists used the commentary in their research. Mayor, as Henderson notes, aspired "to total contextualization through exhaustive encylopae-diaism" on the German model (vii). For Volume 1 (for Volume 2 and Satires 8–16 you have to find the notes unaided) Mayor offers a list of his longer notes, some of which, like the three pages on Tyrian purple, take the form of encyclopedia articles. The realia of Roman life are much in evidence: there is a long note on bread, another on lighting, on senators' shoes, on beggars on the Arician bridge, and so on. Mayor does not limit himself to the Rome of Trajan and Hadrian: the note on peacocks begins with King Solomon's ships sailing from Tarshish; most of the material in the note on the income of rhetoricians comes from Libanius as the apparent decline in...


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