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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of social life in the Satires of Juvenal Surujnath, Bashwar Nagassar

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is not to deal with the literary merit and poetic technique of the satirist. I am not asking whether Juvenal was a good poet or not; instead, I intend to undertake this study strictly from a social and historical point of view. From our author's barrage of bitter protests on the follies and foibles of his age I shall try to uncover as much of the truth as possible (a) from what Juvenal himself says, (b) from what his contemporaries say of the same society, and (c) from the verdict of modern authorities. I shall try to get behind the busy political events of the period and distinguish as clearly as possible the different kinds of people and social activities of the time, relying chiefly on the primary source, the Satires of Juvenal. The results of this study show that the Satires do provide much worthwhile evidence about the society of the people whose lives went into the making of the culture to which our own is so much in debt. The social history of the epoch cannot be underestimated: "Its importance in universal history it can never lose", said Lord Bryce, "for unto it all the life of the ancient world was gathered, out of it all the life of the modern world arose." For our own age the social life in the Satires of Juvenal ought to have special interest, as there are considerable resemblances between modern society in the great cities and the busy life that surged before Juvenal's eyes in Rome eighteen centuries ago.

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