Virtue and vice in Juvenal's satires : [an honors thesis (HONRS 499)]

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dc.contributor.advisor Wycislo, William E. en_US Savage, Emily J. en_US 2011-06-06T19:21:15Z 2011-06-06T19:21:15Z 2004 en_US 2004
dc.identifier.other A-288 en_US
dc.description.abstract Juvenal was a satirist who has made his mark on our literature and vernacular ever since his works first gained prominence (Kimball 6). His use of allusion and epic references gave his satires a timeless quality. His satires were more than just social commentary; they were passionate pleas to better his society. Juvenal claimed to give the uncensored truth about the evils that surrounded him (Highet 157). He argued that virtue and vice were replacing one another in the Roman Empire. In order to gain better understanding of his claim, in the following paper, I looked into his moral origins as well as his arguments on virtue and vice before drawing conclusions based on Juvenal, his outlook on society, and his solutions.Before we can understand how Juvenal chose to praise or condemn individuals and circumstances, we need to understand his moral origins. Much of Juvenal's beliefs come from writings on early Rome and long held Roman traditions. I focused on the writings of Livy, Cicero, and Polybius as well as the importance of concepts such as pietas and fides. I also examined the different philosophies that influenced Juvenal.The bulk of the paper deals with virtue and vice replacing one another. This trend is present in three areas: interpersonal relationships, Roman cultural trends, and religious issues. First, Juvenal insisted that a focus on wealth, extravagance, and luxury dissolved the common bonds between citizens (Courtney 231). As a result, traditional, respectful relationships-such as those between patron and client and man and woman-soured into cold and mean displays of power. Second, Juvenal described vice replacing virtue in Roman culture. Juvenal believed that money, foreign influence, and a lack of international competition were the source of the corruption. His satires point out Roman transgressions (especially the aristocratic Roman transgressions) attacking the very foundation of Roman dignity and honor. Juvenal demonstrated that when greed and extravagance combine, people could not be satisfied (Juvenal 231). Finally, Juvenal's satires draw attention to virtue and vice replacing each other in religious issues. Juvenal argued that Romans were using religion to cater to their whims and that non-Roman values were replacing Roman valued (Highet 100). Ultimately, Juvenal showed that people used religion as a means to gain what was pleasurable, not what was right and any attention given to religion was done purely for personal gain.After examining Juvenal's moral foundations and his arguments on virtue and vice, it is important to look into our conceptions of Juvenal, his approach towards his society, and the solutions he proposed. Juvenal's contemporaries rarely spoke of him, (Highet 19) and since Juvenal did not include much biographical information in his satires, it is difficult to gather many details on his life. However, one can determine that Juvenal was a very courageous man because he wrote although it was risky to condemn powerful men-even if not by name-(Highet 9) and he was a very talented writer with the ability to use bad verse for good effect, much like Catullus, and to generate highly vivid imagery (Fergusen xx). In addition, Juvenal had issues with money. He believed that money was the source of greed, which inevitably corrupted relationships and values.Whether his focus was money or crooked governors, Juvenal used satire, a uniquely Roman form of expression, to attack any deviations from what he believed to be the normal social order (introduction by Braun, Juvenal 4). While scholars do point out tht during Juvenal’s time Rome put forward many humanitarian edicts (Fergusen xxiv), I argue that Juvenal’s claims that the Rome he lived in was by far the most corrupt and degenerate ever had some validity.Juvenal concentrated on issues in both the religious and secular spheres. Juvenal’s comments on religion were contradictory. He easily mocked the gods, but he praised devote individuals (Highet 33). I argue that Juvenal’s attacks on religion took away the basis for the morality that he praised. Many people cannot be good on their own accord; some need an outside reason, whether it is a god or the threat of punishment, in order to maintain good conduct. Juvenal’s complaints about the secular sphere of events reveal that he did not understand the economic and social realities of his day (Introduction by Green, Juvenal 26). Instead of integrating himself with his ever-changing world, Juvenal chose to judge his surroundings in oversimplified, archaic moral terms (Courtney 25). Ultimately, I claim that Juvenal pointed out valid concerns but failed to provide pragmatic solutions to these huge issues.
dc.description.sponsorship Honors College
dc.format.extent 28 leaves ; 28 cm. en_US
dc.source Virtual Press en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Languages, Modern. en_US
dc.title Virtue and vice in Juvenal's satires : [an honors thesis (HONRS 499)] en_US
dc.type Undergraduate senior honors thesis. Thesis (B.?.)
dc.identifier.cardcat-url en_US

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  • Undergraduate Honors Theses [5928]
    Honors theses submitted to the Honors College by Ball State University undergraduate students in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

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