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A page from a manuscript of Juvenal's Satires written in 1467 . London, British Library , Additional MS 17413, fol. 20v

Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis (German Iuvenal or Juvenal ) was a Roman satirical poet of the 1st and 2nd centuries.


His exact life dates are not known. He was probably from Aquinum . One suspects a year of birth around 60 (58?) And a year of death a few years after 127 (138?). The news that Juvenal was banned after he published mocking verses against a dancer sponsored by Domitian is not certain . If the exile theory is correct, Juvenal was probably not only a victim of the comparatively mild relegation , but also a deportation , which also meant a loss of wealth and status. The place of exile was possibly an Egyptian garrison, which he was probably allowed to leave again after a pardon from Nerva .

His friend Martial does not refer to him as a poet, from which one can conclude that he only devoted himself to literary production in his middle years. Presumably it was only the death of Domitian in 96 AD that gave him the freedom he needed to express himself; his creative phase is likely to fall mainly in the time of Hadrian , to whom his seventh satire is addressed.


Saturae , 1535

Sixteen satires ( saturae ) on various topics have survived by Juvenal , which offer an insight into the everyday life of the Romans in Domitian's time, although names and invectives against individual persons are largely absent. The authenticity of some of these works was at times doubted, but the attribution to the author Juvenal is now more likely to be certain.

In these satires, Juvenal criticizes various social conditions in a merciless and, in contrast to Horace, pessimistic, but linguistically and stylistically often brilliant criticism. Many catchwords and phrases that are still used come from his works , for example:

  • panem et circenses - "Bread and Games"
  • mens sana in corpore sano - "a healthy mind in a healthy body"
    (in the original: orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano - "one should pray that a healthy mind is in a healthy body")
  • Difficile est saturam non scribere - "It is difficult not to write satire"
  • Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - "But who should guard the guards themselves?"

Subjects of the Saturae

  • Sat. 1: Juvenal's program: indignation drives him to call the grievances among his contemporaries by name.
  • Sat. 2: Description of sexual debauchery
  • Sat. 3: Description of the sinful city life
  • Sat. 4: Parody of a cabinet meeting under Domitian (the composition of this satire is controversial; two different drafts may have been put together here)
  • Sat. 5: Criticism of dealing with clients
  • Sat. 6: Criticism of marriage and women (here, too, the text is unclear, the composition seems unusually confused)
  • Sat. 7: Denunciation of the disdain for intellectuals and spiritual professions
  • Sat. 8 and 9: occupation with nobility and similar areas; in 9 also a description of sexual excesses
  • Sat. 10: A criticism of prayers and wishes based on wrong judgments about what is desirable; the satire culminates in a call to a quiet and rational life.
  • Sat. 11: Criticism of gluttony
  • Sat. 12: Denunciation of inheritance sneaking
  • Sat. 13: Words of consolation to a friend on the subject of "loss of money"
  • Sat. 14: Treatise on raising children and criticism of greed
  • Sat. 15: Description of an Egyptian case of cannibalism
  • Sat. 16 (incomplete): criticism of soldiers' arrogance towards civilians

Literary tradition

With his Saturae, Juvenal succeeds Horace and Lucilius , but his satires are significantly longer than the poems of these predecessors. Immediately after his death, he was rather forgotten. The basis of the Juvenal editions available today is an annotated edition from the end of the 4th century, but a more eager reception did not begin again until the Middle Ages, which Juvenal discovered as an ethic and school author and produced numerous Juvenal editions and commentaries.


  • Joachim Adamietz (Ed.): Juvenal, Satiren. Latin-German (= Tusculum Collection ). Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1993, ISBN 3-7608-1671-1 .
  • Susanna Morton Braund (Ed.): Juvenal Satires Book I. (= Cambridge Greek and Latin classics ). Cambridge 1996, ISBN 0-521-35566-4 .
  • Wendell Vernon Clausen (eds.): A. Persi Flacci et D. Ivni Ivvenalis Satvrae (= Scriptorvm Classicorvm Bibliotheca Oxoniensis ). Clarendon, Oxford 1992, ISBN 0-19-814798-8 .
  • James A. Willis (Ed.): D. Iunii Iuvenalis Saturae Sedecim (= Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana ). Teubner, Stuttgart / Leipzig 1997, ISBN 3-8154-1471-7 .
  • Harry C. Schnur (translator): Juvenal, satires . Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1969.
  • Sven Lorenz (Ed.): Juvenal, Satiren / Saturae. Latin-German. Ed., Ex. and annotated by SL (= Tusculum Collection ). de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2017, ISBN 978-3-11-040587-3 .


  • Joachim Adamietz: Juvenal. In: Joachim Adamietz (Hrsg.): The Roman satire (= outline of literary stories by genre ). Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1986, ISBN 3-534-07805-5 , pp. 231-307.
  • Michael von Albrecht : History of Roman literature from Andronicus to Boethius and its continued effect . 3rd, improved and enlarged edition. Volume 2, De Gruyter, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-026525-5 , pp. 861-876.
  • Edward Courtney: A Commentary on the Satires of Juvenal . London 1980.
  • Gilbert Highet: Juvenal the Satirist . Oxford 1954 and 1962.
  • Carsten Schmieder: For the constancy of erotic experience: Martial, Juvenal, Pasolini . Hybris, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-939735-00-7 .
  • Christine Schmitz: The satirical in Juvenals Satiren (= studies on ancient literature and history. Volume 58). De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2000, ISBN 3-11-016925-8 .
  • Christine Schmitz: Juvenal (= study books antiquity. Volume 16). Georg Olms, Hildesheim 2019, ISBN 978-3-487-15741-2 .


Web links

Commons : Juvenal  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. sat. 1.30
  2. sat. 6,347 f