Worse still is the well-read menace, who’s hardly started dinner before she’s praising Virgil

Juvenal - The Sixteen Satires

The drawback of reading ancient books is that the publishers fill them with academic junk.  Lines are numbered like they’re biblical verses, there are more pages of endnotes than there are in the text itself, and, before you can even get started, you’re expected to read a 100-page scholarly introduction.  God forbid anyone should read these texts without first being told exactly how they’re supposed to feel about them.

I think I know what Juvenal would say about that.  He’s a mean bastard.  He wrote 16 satires, or, as we would call them today, rants, just to tell us that everyone in Rome totally sucks.  All the men are closet homosexuals, and all the women whores.  And, like, once, he was invited for dinner to a rich guy, and was served bad food.  There’s no proper morals any more, and the youths are all doing reality TV nowadays, all with their rollerskates and their walkmans and their stepping on my goddam lawn.

The glory of Antiquity rubs off on anything that has survived the ages, but the truth is that Juvenal’s Satires are just the ramblings of some old misanthrope.  You can appreciate them for the clever way in which he whines, but it’s still whining.  I gave up half-way, fed up.  This is the age of internet flaming.  Juvenal is a good flamer, but I hope nobody takes the angriest thing I ever wrote online and preserve it for 2000 years, and publish it with endnotes and a long academic introduction.  Please don’t.

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