Juvenal Satire 1: comparison with Latin original

In content, Juvenal's first satire is an indictment of the thousand nuisances of life in Rome; in purpose, it's a "programmatic" poem, i.e. it lays out the scope the author's endeavour and the purposes of satire.

You can read my version by itself, or compare my version with Juvenal's original or with the versions of Stapylton (1647), Dryden (1692), or Gifford (1802), all of whom use heroic couplets like I do.

Jack Mitchell (2001)

To listen ever, never settle scores—
Is that my fate, though croaking Cordus bores
The world with his
Theseids? Scot-free,
Therefore, must one recite me comedy
Another love-poems, ’til some Telephus
Destroys my day, his strength voluminous,
And dreads no retribution, only bested
By Orestes, whole-scroll, palimpsested
Margin-stuffed, to shut up oft requested?
No one knows his own house half as well
As I know Mars’s solitary dell,
Aeolus’ cliffs, or nearby Vulcan’s cave,
What the winds are up to, just which knave
Aeacus daily tortures, whence some dude
Is busy thieving fleeces golden-hued,
Just what Monychus’ ash-trees’ magnitude!
Fronto’s orchard echoes with such stuff
Forever, marble shudders, cries “Enough!”
And cracks, though still the reader will not stow it:
’T’s all the same, from least to greatest poet.

I’ve also dodged a teacher’s punishments
And freely offered Sulla my two cents’:
“It’s time to call it quits.” The bards are loose,
You meet them everywhere, so what’s the use
Of sparing paper sentenced to their noose?
Why ’cross this battlefield I’d rather run,
O’er which with fearsome steeds Arunca’s son
Once raced, I’ll now explain, if all here shall
Take time to calmly hear my rationale.
With supple eunuchs walking down the aisle,
With Maevia hunting gladiator-style
(Her tits exposed), with one whose rusty shear
Once trimmed my fledgling beard these days the peer
(Thanks to his cash) of each aristocrat;
And with Canopus’ servile kitty-cat,
Crispinus, chunk of the Egyptian slum,
Hitching the purple while the sweat runs from
That massive summer ring upon his knuckle
(Any heavier and he’d quickly buckle):
Satire’s the hard thing
not to write these days.
For who’s so patient with the loathsome ways
This city lives, whose iron will’s so strong
That he can bite his tongue when comes along
Matho’s new litter, bursting from each end
With Matho; then the one who sold his friend,
His high-placed patron, ready now to grab
Whatever crumb nobody else could nab
From our gnawed-down nobility, whose powers
E’en Massa fears, whom even Carus showers
With bribes, to whom Latinus trembling sent
Thymele to assure his kind intent!
You’re shoved aside by worthies such as these,
Who labour all night long for legacies,
Since nowadays to wealth there is no way as
Wide as rich old pussies. Proculeius
Gets but one part, Gillo gets eleven:
Heirs by length of cock raised up to heaven.
Let them take the price of swollen blood,
And turn as pale as he who steps unshod
Upon a snake, as he wh’ awaits the nod
To speak at Lugdunum. Shall I explain
With what dry rage, with what o’erwhelming pain
My liver seethes when flunkies break a way
Between the crowd for one who every day
Defrauds his helpless ward? For who’s abashed
About disgrace once that fat cheque is cashed?
God-censured, th’ exile Marius drinks deep
All night, while you, victorious province, weep.

Are not such vices worth Venusia’s candle?
Shan’t I take them up? Not rather handle
Hercules or Diomede, the roar
Within some labyrinth, the ocean floor
Smacked by a boy, the flying contractor?
When such a troop of husband-pimps connives
To rent away their disenfranchised wives,
To watch the floor and snore though wide awake!
Yet he who seeks a cohort takes the cake,
Who blew his family fortune on a horse,
Who like Automedon now flies the course
Down the Flaminian Way with wheels awhirl
And grabs the reins, his ego to unfurl
Before his sweetheart, th’ army-coated girl!
You’ll fill thick notebooks where the alleys meet
When on six necks now marches down the street
The curtains open, naked as you please
(So reminiscent of Maecenas’ ease),
Some forgerer, whose signatory stealth
And moistened ring brought happiness and wealth;
And next a puissant dame, her wine accursed
With toad’s-blood for to quench her husband’s thirst:
She’ll teach the rustic girls next door to souse
And mourn and blithly bury every spouse,
More skillful than Locusta! Try your hand
At what they punish with Gyara’s strand
Or years in jail, if you would make a name:
The honest man will starve to death of fame.
Their gardens, rank, and furniture are due
To crime, the ostentatious silver too.
Who’ll sleep for thought of in-law daughters bought
By husbands’ fathers, wedding vows for nought
Or teenage years in womanising shot?
If talent fails me, wrath will write my verse,
Howbeit: mine, Cluvenius’, or worse.
From when Deucalion climbed the lofty mount
By tacking o’er the cloud-fed main, the fount
Of prophecy to seek, and rocks grew soft
And hot, and women with their clothing doffed
Were shown by Pyrrha to their husbands oft,
The doings of mankind, vows, fears, and rage,
Lusts, joy, and babblings — fodder for my page.

For when was vice more trouble to escape?
Whenever did the jaws of greed thus gape?
Whenever gambling thus so universal?
Leave your purse, but bring for quick dispersal
Treasure-chests indeed. What battles dire,
Each with his own accountant for a squire:
Pure madness, no, to drop a hundred thou’
And leave your shirtless servant shiv’ring now?
What sire of ours put all those houses up
On courses seven secretly to sup?
Yet nowadays the scanty dole is stuck
Before the door for toga’d mobs to pluck;
Though still the patron peers into your face
For fear that by deceit you make your case:
It’s you, alright; he bids the butler call
Forth first the Trojan-blooded founders all —
They too upon the doorstep meekly yearn:
“First it’s the Praetor, then the Tribune’s turn.”
But no, the freedling’s first. “I’m first in line,”
He says. “So what? Who cares? First place is mine!
Though born beside Euphrates’ lazy flow
(As glancing at my window’d ears you’d know
Though I’d deny it); still each year now I’ve
Four hundred thousand, since my shops are five.
Sure, what’s the point of that fat purple band
Now that Corvinus o’er Laurentian land
Herds flocks of sheep? For I’m more rich, more great
Than Pallas or Licinus.” Let the tribunes wait!
Let wealth prevail! Lest such a man give in
To sacred titles, whose chalk-whitened shin
Appeared just yesterday within this town,
For nowadays no god has such renown
As wealth in Rome, though yet, o hateful Cash,
To your new shrine no consul cut the sash,
Nor have we decked your holy altar’s block,
Nor with Good Faith and Virtue set your rock,
Alongside Peace, and Concord with its flock!
But when the highest office computates
Its yearly dole, then sums up its estates,
What of the rest, who from the same amount
Must reckon clothes and shoes into account
And bread and warmth? A vast array of litters
Hunts that hundred bucks, the counterfeiters
Thronged: a sickly or a pregnant wife
Will trace her husband’s steps; deceit is rife,
As with the well-known trick another louse
Points out the curtained chair wherein his spouse
Never existed. “Galla’s there,” says he.
“Let’s have it quick - you don’t have faith in me?
Come out, my dear! Oh, quiet, she’s asleep.”

The day we to a lovely schedule keep:
The dole, the forum, then well-schooled Apollo,
Vict’ry statues where (what’s hard to swallow)
Some Egyptian Arabarches dared
To set his titles: let no man be scared
Thereon to piss and more! Now from the laird
The tired clients wend their homeward way
(Though hope for dinner is the last to say
Goodnight) to buy their cabbage and their fuel;
Meanwhile their king o’er fish and fowl will drool,
Supping alone (though empty tables spread
About are wide, antique, unblemishèd),
His appetite his patrimony’s doom,
His parasites endangered; yet to whom,
Does luxury so miserly not stink?
Down what a gullet can a whole boar sink?
The beast was born for friendly cheer and drink!
And yet you’ll pay when to the bath you puff
With bloated belly, into which you’d stuff
That unchewed peacock meat; then in the buff
Alack! It’s death, without a testament:
The happy news around the room is sent,
Your funeral starts with cheers of ill-intent.

No further vice the future knows to add
To life these days; our children ape the fad,
They act like us; vice is the slippery slope.
So now, full speed, o good ship Misanthrope!
Yet “How,” perhaps you wonder, “can you cope
With satirising evil of such scope?
Will you be free to write a single page
Like our forefathers wrote in simple rage?
“What man do you suppose I dare not name?
Who cares if Mucius read and rant and blame?”
Just try the same with Tigellinus, friend,
And as a human torch you’ll make an end
Like those who hang and sizzle to applause
’Til each his furrow ’cross th’ arena draws.”
So he who’s poisoned uncles shall ride free,
From cushioned seat look down his nose at me?
“Yes: when he passes, check your accusation:
Don’t denounce him; that’s called defamation.
Better write of Turnus’ bravery
Or of Aeneas; there’s no obloquy
In how Achilles died, or Hylas slipped
Though much sought-for, and down that well got dipped.
But when like some hot blade Lucilius clashes,
Frigid teeth the guilty listener gnashes,
Breaking out in spiritual rashes.
Think it through, then, ere the trumpets sound;
The helmet donned, your foes you must confound.”
I’ll guess I’ll treat of men of olden days,
Guests of the Latin and Flaminian Ways.

Juvenal (100 AD)

Semper ego auditor tantum? numquamne reponam
uexatus totiens rauci Theseide Codri?
inpune ergo mihi recitauerit ille togatas,
hic elegos? inpune diem consumpserit ingens
Telephus aut summi plena iam margine libri
scriptus et in tergo necdum finitus Orestes?
nota magis nulli domus est sua quam mihi lucus
Martis et Aeoliis uicinum rupibus antrum
Vulcani; quid agant uenti, quas torqueat umbras
Aeacus, unde alius furtiuae deuehat aurum
pelliculae, quantas iaculetur Monychus ornos,
Frontonis platani conuolsaque marmora clamant
semper et adsiduo ruptae lectore columnae.
expectes eadem a summo minimoque poeta.







et nos ergo manum ferulae subduximus, et nos
consilium dedimus Sullae, priuatus ut altum
dormiret. stulta est clementia, cum tot ubique
uatibus occurras, periturae parcere chartae.
cur tamen hoc potius libeat decurrere campo,
per quem magnus equos Auruncae flexit alumnus,
si uacat ac placidi rationem admittitis, edam.
Cum tener uxorem ducat spado, Meuia Tuscum
figat aprum et nuda teneat uenabula mamma,
patricios omnis opibus cum prouocet unus
quo tondente grauis iuueni mihi barba sonabat,
cum pars Niliacae plebis, cum uerna Canopi
Crispinus Tyrias umero reuocante lacernas
uentilet aestiuum digitis sudantibus aurum,
nec sufferre queat maioris pondera gemmae,
difficile est saturam non scribere. nam quis iniquae
tam patiens Vrbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se,
causidici noua cum ueniat lectica Mathonis
plena ipso, post hunc magni delator amici
et cito rapturus de nobilitate comesa
quod superest, quem Massa timet, quem munere palpat
Carus ut a trepido Thymele summissa Latino;
cum te summoueant qui testamenta merentur
noctibus, in caelum quos euehit optima summi
nunc uia processus, uetulae uesica beatae?
unciolam Proculeius habet, sed Gillo deuncem,
partes quisque suas ad mensuram inguinis heres.
accipiat sane mercedem sanguinis et sic
palleat ut nudis pressit qui calcibus anguem
aut Lugudunensem rhetor dicturus ad aram.
quid referam quanta siccum iecur ardeat ira,
cum populum gregibus comitum premit hic spoliator
pupilli prostantis et hic damnatus inani
iudicio? quid enim saluis infamia nummis?
exul ab octaua Marius bibit et fruitur dis
iratis, at tu uictrix, prouincia, ploras.













haec ego non credam Venusina digna lucerna?
haec ego non agitem? sed quid magis? Heracleas
aut Diomedeas aut mugitum labyrinthi
et mare percussum puero fabrumque uolantem.
cum leno accipiat moechi bona, si capiendi
ius nullum uxori, doctus spectare lacunar,
doctus et ad calicem uigilanti stertere naso;
cum fas esse putet curam sperare cohortis
qui bona donauit praesepibus et caret omni
maiorum censu, dum peruolat axe citato
Flaminiam puer Automedon? nam lora tenebat
ipse, lacernatae cum se iactaret amicae.
nonne libet medio ceras inplere capaces
quadriuio, cum iam sexta ceruice feratur
hinc atque inde patens ac nuda paene cathedra
et multum referens de Maecenate supino
signator falsi, qui se lautum atque beatum
exiguis tabulis et gemma fecerit uda?
occurrit matrona potens, quae molle Calenum
porrectura uiro miscet sitiente rubeta
instituitque rudes melior Lucusta propinquas
per famam et populum nigros efferre maritos.
aude aliquid breuibus Gyaris et carcere dignum,
si uis esse aliquid. probitas laudatur et alget;
criminibus debent hortos, praetoria, mensas,
argentum uetus et stantem extra pocula caprum.
quem patitur dormire nurus corruptor auarae,
quem sponsae turpes et praetextatus adulter?
si natura negat, facit indignatio uersum
qualemcumque potest, quales ego uel Cluuienus.
Ex quo Deucalion nimbis tollentibus aequor
nauigio montem ascendit sortesque poposcit
paulatimque anima caluerunt mollia saxa
et maribus nudas ostendit Pyrrha puellas,
quidquid agunt homines, uotum, timor, ira, uoluptas,
gaudia, discursus, nostri farrago libelli est.







ecquando uberior uitiorum copia? quando
maior auaritiae patuit sinus? alea quando
hos animos? neque enim loculis comitantibus itur
ad casum tabulae, posita sed luditur arca.
proelia quanta illic dispensatore uidebis
armigero! simplexne furor sestertia centum
perdere et horrenti tunicam non reddere seruo?
quis totidem erexit uillas, quis fercula septem
secreto cenauit auus? nunc sportula primo
limine parua sedet turbae rapienda togatae.
ille tamen faciem prius inspicit et trepidat ne
suppositus uenias ac falso nomine poscas:
agnitus accipies. iubet a praecone uocari
ipsos Troiugenas, nam uexant limen et illi
nobiscum. 'da praetori, da deinde tribuno.'
sed libertinus prior est. 'prior' inquit 'ego adsum.
cur timeam dubitemue locum defendere, quamuis
natus ad Euphraten, molli quod in aure fenestrae
arguerint, licet ipse negem? sed quinque tabernae
quadringenta parant. quid confert purpura maior
optandum, si Laurenti custodit in agro
conductas Coruinus ouis, ego possideo plus
Pallante et Licinis?' expectent ergo tribuni,
uincant diuitiae, sacro ne cedat honori
nuper in hanc urbem pedibus qui uenerat albis,
quandoquidem inter nos sanctissima diuitiarum
maiestas, etsi funesta Pecunia templo
nondum habitat, nullas Nummorum ereximus aras,
ut colitur Pax atque Fides, Victoria, Virtus
quaeque salutato crepitat Concordia nido.
sed cum summus honor finito conputet anno,
sportula quid referat, quantum rationibus addat,
quid facient comites quibus hinc toga, calceus hinc est
et panis fumusque domi? densissima centum
quadrantes lectica petit, sequiturque maritum
languida uel praegnans et circumducitur uxor.
hic petit absenti nota iam callidus arte
ostendens uacuam et clausam pro coniuge sellam.
'Galla mea est' inquit, 'citius dimitte. moraris?
profer, Galla, caput. noli uexare, quiescet.'











ipse dies pulchro distinguitur ordine rerum:
sportula, deinde forum iurisque peritus Apollo
atque triumphales, inter quas ausus habere
nescio quis titulos Aegyptius atque Arabarches,
cuius ad effigiem non tantum meiere fas est.
uestibulis abeunt ueteres lassique clientes
uotaque deponunt, quamquam longissima cenae
spes homini; caulis miseris atque ignis emendus.
optima siluarum interea pelagique uorabit
rex horum uacuisque toris tantum ipse iacebit.
nam de tot pulchris et latis orbibus et tam
antiquis una comedunt patrimonia mensa.
nullus iam parasitus erit. sed quis ferat istas
luxuriae sordes? quanta est gula quae sibi totos
ponit apros, animal propter conuiuia natum!
poena tamen praesens, cum tu deponis amictus
turgidus et crudum pauonem in balnea portas.
hinc subitae mortes atque intestata senectus.
it noua nec tristis per cunctas fabula cenas;
ducitur iratis plaudendum funus amicis.




Nil erit ulterius quod nostris moribus addat
posteritas, eadem facient cupientque minores,
omne in praecipiti uitium stetit. utere uelis,
totos pande sinus. dices hic forsitan 'unde
ingenium par materiae? unde illa priorum
scribendi quodcumque animo flagrante liberet
simplicitas?' cuius non audeo dicere nomen?
quid refert dictis ignoscat Mucius an non?
'pone Tigellinum, taeda lucebis in illa
qua stantes ardent qui fixo gutture fumant,
et latum media sulcum deducit harena.'
qui dedit ergo tribus patruis aconita, uehatur
pensilibus plumis atque illinc despiciat nos?
'cum ueniet contra, digito compesce labellum:
accusator erit qui aduersus dixerit "hic est";
securus licet Aenean Rutulumque ferocem
committas, nulli grauis est pertusus Achilles
aut multum quaesitus Hylas urnamque secutus:
ense semel stricto quotiens Lucilius ardens
infremuit, rubet auditor cui frigida mens est
criminibus, tacita sudant praecordia culpa.
inde irae et lacrimae. tecum prius ergo uoluta
haec animo ante tubas: galeatum sero duelli
paenitet.' experiar quid concedatur in illos
quorum Flaminia tegitur cinis atque Latina.