THE LIFE OF JUVENAL by Suetonius Tranquillus – Read online
JUVENAL – THE LIVES OF THE TWELVE CAESARS By C. Suetonius Tranquillus
D. JUNIUS JUVENALIS, who was either the son 944 of a wealthy freedman, or brought up by him, it is not known which, declaimed till the middle of life 945, more from the bent of his inclination, than from any desire to prepare himself either for the schools or the forum. But having composed a short satire 946, which was clever enough, on Paris 947, the actor of pantomimes, (537) and also on the poet of Claudius Nero, who was puffed up by having held some inferior military rank for six months only; he afterwards devoted himself with much zeal to that style of writing.
For a while indeed, he had not the courage to read them even to a small circle of auditors, but it was not long before he recited his satires to crowded audiences, and with entire success; and this he did twice or thrice, inserting new lines among those which he had originally composed.
Quod non dant proceres, dabit histrio, tu Camerinos,
Et Bareas, tu nobilium magna atria curas.
Praefectos Pelopea facit, Philomela tribunos.
Behold an actor’s patronage affords
A surer means of rising than a lord’s!
And wilt thou still the Camerino’s 948 court,
Or to the halls of Bareas resort,
When tribunes Pelopea can create
And Philomela praefects, who shall rule the state? 949
At that time the player was in high favour at court, and many of those who fawned upon him were daily raised to posts of honour. Juvenal therefore incurred the suspicion of having covertly satirized occurrences which were then passing, and, although eighty years old at that time 950, he was immediately removed from the city, being sent into honourable banishment as praefect of a cohort, which was under orders to proceed to a station at the extreme frontier of Egypt 951.
That (538) sort of punishment was selected, as it appeared severe enough for an offence which was venial, and a mere piece of drollery. However, he died very soon afterwards, worn down by grief, and weary of his life.
[ Juvenal was born at Aquinum, a town of the Volscians, as appears by an ancient MS., and is intimated by himself. Sat. iii. 319.]
[ He must have been therefore nearly forty years old at this time, as he lived to be eighty.]
[ The seventh of Juvenal’s Satires.]
[ This Paris does not appear to have been the favourite of Nero, who was put to death by that prince (see NERO, c. liv.) but another person of the same name, who was patronised by the emperor Domitian. The name of the poet joined with him is not known. Salmatius thinks it was Statius Pompilius, who sold to Paris, the actor, the play of Agave; Esurit, intactam
Paridi nisi vendat Agaven.
—Juv. Sat. vii. 87.] 948
[ Sulpicius Camerinus had been proconsul in Africa; Bareas Soranus in Asia. Tacit. Annal. xiii. 52; xvi. 23. Both of them are said to have been corrupt in their administration; and the satirist introduces their names as examples of the rich and noble, whose influence was less than that of favourite actors, or whose avarice prevented them from becoming the patrons of poets.]
[ The “Pelopea,” was a tragedy founded on the story of the daughter of Thyestes; the “Philomela,” a tragedy on the fate of Itys, whose remains were served to his father at a banquet by Philomela and her sister Progne.]
[ This was in the time of Adrian. Juvenal, who wrote first in the reigns of Domitian and Trajan, composed his last Satire but one in the third year of Adrian, A.U.C. 872.]
[ Syene is meant, the frontier station of the imperial troops in that quarter of the world.]