Some notes on another brief biography of Juvenal (Jahn III)

At the end of Jahn’s 1851 edition of the works of Juvenal, the editor helpfully gathered together various accounts of the life of Juvenal which are found in the medieval manuscripts that transmit to us the text of Juvenal’s Satires. The value of all of these biographies is very doubtful, but it is interesting to see them. An old Geocities website, existing now here, includes most of them and some other material, which spurred me to look at one of them.

Here’s Jahn’s Vita number III:

Iuvenalis iste Aquinatis fuit, id est ex Aquinio oppido, temporibus Neronis Claudii imperatoris. Prima aetate siluit, ad mediam fere aetatem declamavit, unde et quasi diu tacuit. Fecit quosdam versus in Paridem pantomimum, qui tunc temporis apud imperatorem plurimum poterat. Hac de causa venit in suspicionem, quasi istius imperatoris tempora notasset. Sic obtentu militiae pulsus urbe tandem Romam cum veniret et Martialem suum non videret, ita tristitia et angore periit anno aetatis suae altero et octuagesimo.

— O. Jahn, D. Iunii Iuvenalis Saturarum Libri V, 1851, p.388.

Translating this, I get something like this.

That Juvenal was an Aquinatan, i.e. from the town of Aquinium, in the time of the emperor Nero Claudius. In his early years he was quiet, until almost middle age he declaimed, from when again he was silent as if for a long time. He made some verses against Paris, a pantomime actor, who at that time had very great influence with the emperor. For this reason he came under suspicion, as if he had documented the time of that Emperor. So having been expelled from the city under the pretext of military service, when at last he came to Rome and did not see his friend Martial, then he perished from sadness and anguish, at the age of eighty-one.

I thought that I would share a few items that struck me as I looked at this.

The town is actually named Aquinum, modern Aquino, rather than Aquinium.

Since Juvenal was a contemporary of Martial, who flourished under Domitian, clearly Juvenal – who calls Domitian a “bald-headed Nero” did not himself live in the days of Nero.

“prima aetate”, from youth, in his early years. There are some interesting remarks in the various dictionaries at Logeion here on the variable meanings of “aetas”.

“quasi diu tacuit”, he fell silent as if for a long time. “quasi diu” misled me, and I resorted to an internet search. I often find that useful information for a translator comes out of this, especially for medieval Latin. Thus I found myself looking at an entry in the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville, book 5, chapter 25, v. 19:

Depositum est pignus commendatum ad tempus, quasi diu positum.

A ‘deposit’ (depositum) is a security entrusted for a set time, as though it were ‘set down for a long time’ (diu positum).

English translation by Stephen A Barney &c, Cambridge (2006), p.121.

“apud imperatorem plurimum poterat” – had very great influence with the emperor. This nice phrasing came out of Google translate, which can also be a source of a useful word or two; and perhaps more often, is also a source of complete gibberish.

“Romam cum veniret et Martialem suum non videret” – when he came to Rome and did not see his dear (suum) Martial. Both verbs are subjunctive and imperfect, following “cum”, so literally “when he was coming… and was not seeing”. The sense is of an ongoing action – but in English we do better to use “came… and did not see”, which conveys the same sense.

But where does this text come from? Well, Jahn says:

exstat in cod. msc. Is. Vossii v. cl. auctoremque praefert Ael. Donatum, sed uidetur tamen potius ex superiori vita expressa per Cornutum aut Probum aut Asperum aut Euanthium aut similem compilatorem grammaticum.” Henninius.

This footnote is a quote from this “Henninius”, who turns out to be an early and very copious editor (Leyden, 1695). It’s probably quoted from the later Ruperti edition, tho. Uselessly it tells us only that it is found in a miscellaneous manuscript once belonging to Isaac Vossius – I’m not quite sure what he’s saying about Donatus.

But the webpage above adds:

Nach Stephan de Pithoeanis in Iuvenalem scholiis S. 9. A. steht dieselbe vita auch im codex Pithoeanus.

According to Stephan, Concerning the Pithou manuscript of the scholia of Juvenal, p.9, the same vita is present in the Pithou manuscript.

“Stephan” turns out to be an 1881 commentator. But the codex Pithoeanus is Montpellier H25, which is now online. And so indeed it is! It is the second vita on the page at the end, online here. Yes, it’s time for that image again! (I do like it)

This page is, however, a later addition to the 9th century manuscript.

There are all sorts of little bits of Latin around, and it would be nice to see more of them in translation.

From my diary

Various snippets have come my way over the last few days. But rather than writing new blog posts, I’ve been updating some older posts that touched upon them.

Much of this related to Juvenal. All my old posts on him can be found here.

One old post here contained the text, together with a very old and not very good translation of the ancient “biography” of Juvenal that appears in some manuscripts. I came across a modern translation by Courtney and added that to it, and also included screen shots of the page in two manuscripts.

Other posts referred to the Aarau fragments of Juvenal. A kind correspondent had let me know the location of these, so I made sure the posts reflected this.

Another post here contained the first two sentences of the first scholion on Satire I, line 1. I added the other two, to round it out. Small stuff, I know, but all useful.

Soon after publishing my post here on photographs of the Meta Sudans held by the American Academy in Rome, I learned that the British School in Rome had also posted some photographs of the monument online. So I added these to the same post. They nicely filled in some gaps, giving nearly 360° views of the Meta Sudans.

All this is rather inconsequential, and I would not mention it ordinarily, were it not for the next update.

This blog is written using the free WordPress software, although I host my own copy of it on some rented webspace. A couple of years ago WordPress decided to introduce a new editor, the “block editor”. This I ignored, as I was perfectly happy with the “classic editor”.

But the inevitable has happened. The classic editor is starting to rot. It is developing bugs. It’s becoming unfit for purpose.

So this is my first post with the block editor, written mainly to test it out. Let’s see what happens.

I have already discovered one problem: that it doesn’t seem to support footnotes. A blog post here gives a quite impractical approach, and suggests that WordPress simply don’t care about it. I’ll have to look further into this.[1]

I do believe that WordPress have lost the plot. The original purpose of WordPress was to make blogging easy. These days everything seems to be about using it to develop websites. Blogging hardly seems to rate a mention.

This is the problem with using any free blogging tools like WordPress, rather than raw HTML. It makes many things easier, and certainly improves the presentation. But at the end of the day it means committing your content to strangers who have no obligation towards you. They can in principle withdraw their tools from you at any moment for any reason, leaving you in the lurch. You have no redress whatever.

It’s all a long way from the internet of 1997!

  1. [1]Looks like it still works as it did!

What do the scholia of Juvenal look like in the Montpellier manuscript?

David Ganz kindly drew my attention to the fact that the Montpellier H25 manuscript of Juvenal (Lorsch, 9th century), our best witness for the old scholia on Juvenal, is now online here.  If we go to the start of the Juvenal portion of the manuscript, here, we see this:

In the middle of the page is the text of Juvenal, starting here with the first satire; and in the margin is the commentary.  Although the manuscript is 9th century, the comments are thought to be 4th century.

The Wessner edition of the scholia[1] begins like this:

Each comment or “scholion” consists of a word or two from the text –  jargon alert: this is called the “lemma” – followed by whatever the comment is.

Wessner prints the lemma in italics, understandably.  So it is really interesting to see what the 9th century scribe actually put on the page!  I have highlighted those lemmas that I can see with a red box.  There are also scholia to the right of the text of Juvenal, such as the one on “Cordi”.

The first scholion, a comment on the very first words, consists of a little biography of Juvenal.  The others are much shorter.

I wonder to what extent this manuscript is laid out in the same way as a late 4th century original?  Probably very similarly.  Perhaps the brevity of most scholia relates to the limited space available?

  1. [1]Paul Wessner, Scholia in Iuvenalem Vetustiora, Teubner (1931).

More thoughts on the scholia vetustiora of Juvenal

Earlier today I discussed the appearance of the word “gladiatrix” in the oldest scholia on Juvenal.  I had hoped to find the passage in an online manuscript, but I didn’t have any good source for the manuscripts of the scholia.

Soon afterwards a kind gentleman then sent me a copy of Wessner’s 1931 edition of the Scholia in Iuvenalem Vetustiora.  Before I looked at the manuscripts, I started to read the ancient biography of Juvenal at the front.

Then I looked at the first scholion, which is attached to the very first words of Satire 1.  At the start I noted the use of “eo quod”, so familiar in the Vulgate for “because”:

Semper ego… Iuvenalem aliqui Gallum propter corporis magnitudinem, aliqui Aquinatem dicunt. ea tempora Domitiani tyranni, quibus etiam ipse vixit, eo quod in aula ipsius plus histriones quam bonae vitae homines possent, graviter carpsit.  Hos autem libros in exilium missus ad civitatem ultimam Aegypti Hoasim ab ipso Domitiano scripsit. Ideo autem in exilium missus est, quia dixit versum illum (VII 90] quod non dant proceres, dabit histrio.

Some say that Juvenal was a Gaul, on account of the size of his body, others a native of Aquino.  In the time of the tyrant Domitian, in which also he lived, he was a violent satirist, because in his palace actors were of more influence than men of good life.[1]  But he wrote those books in exile having been sent to the furthest city of Egypt, the [Great] Oasis, by this Domitian. But for this reason he was sent into exile, because he uttered that verse, “what the nobles do not give, the actor will.”

No wonder the scholia have been attributed to the same period as the Vulgate!  The mention of the Oasis, later to be the place of exile of Nestorius, again suggests a late date.

Then I looked at the table of manuscripts.

Wessner indicates various sources in the manuscripts for the scholia.  One of these he simply describes, uselessly, as:

Fragmenta Aroviensia (Q), quae nunc in archio urbis Aroviae (‘Aarau’) asservantur, oIim pertinebant ad codicem Iuvenalis s. X scriptum….

Q is in fact his main source for the portion of the scholia which mentions “gladiatrix”.  I wondered if it was online.  Wessner’s description is not helpful.  But Aarau turns out to be a German-speaking Swiss town.  In Braund &c, A Companion to Persius and Juvenal, here, we find a list of principal  manuscripts of Juvenal.  “Arou. (Q in Wessner) is the library given as “Aarau, Stadtarchiv I, Nr. 0”. [2]  It is described as “Fragmenta Aroviensia” and consists of 5 leaves reused for bindings, one of which happens to be a section of the 6th Satire.

But sadly it does not appear to be online.  Nor was the Montpellier manuscript, once the property of Pierre Pithou, and originally from Lorsch, which also is important.

However the St Gall, Sangallensis 870, is indeed online here at the magnificent e-Codices site.  The scholia start on “page 40”, here, with the very words we discussed above.

Nice to know that we are in the right place!  On page 53, we see the heading of satire 2, De philosophis obscenis, On foul philosophers.

Our reference to “gladiatrix” is to be found on page 134, on line 6:

Also interesting to see the Greek transcribed at the end!

Some may ask how I located the passage in the manuscript.  What I did was to have Wessner’s edition open, in a searchable PDF.  I then picked a random page, looked for a word that wasn’t “est” or something trivial, and searched for it in the PDF.  A few clicks soon indicated where in the text I was.  The word itself would not be unique; but looking at the word after would help.  Once I knew where I was, I could move forward or back in the online manuscript, as seemed desirable; and repeat.  I ended up aiming for halfway through – Satire 6 is about halfway through – and then moving back.

Nice to see “gladiatrix” in a manuscript written in the 900s AD!

  1. [1]Reading “carpsit” as “he was a satirist”, because of the sense of tearing at reputation; and  “multum/plus posse”, “to have much/more influence”.
  2. [2]Update Jan. 2021: This is indeed the reference.  A correspondent wrote to the archives in Aarau (website here) and got the reply: “Das Juvenal-Fragment befindet sich im Stadtarchiv Aarau, I Nr. 0, vgl.: Katalog der mittelalterlichen Handschriften des Klosters Wettingen ; Katalog der mittelalterlichen Handschriften in Aarau, Laufenburg, Lenzburg, Rheinfelden und Zofingen, S. 195f.”

Is “gladiatrix” a modern term?

On various sites you can find the claim that the Latin word “gladiatrix”, meaning a female gladiator, is a modern word, unknown in antiquity.  For instance this article:

The term gladiatrix was never used in ancient times; it is a modern word first applied to female gladiators in the 1800’s CE.

This in turn seems to be based on a line in this very useful page: by James Grout at Encylopaedia Romana:

There is no specific Latin word for a female gladiator nor was there a feminine form, gladiatrix being a modern construction, first used in a translation of Juvenal in 1802. The closest term to identify the female gladiator is ludia (from ludus, “stage performer”) but even that word tends to refer to the wife or lover of a gladiator.

But is this true?  It seems that it is not, and that there is a late antique usage for the word.  What it is not is classical.

I learn from Anna McCullough, “Female Gladiators in the Roman Empire”, in: Budin & Turfa (eds), Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World, Routledge (2016), p.958 (preview) that:

Despite its usage by modern scholars and in popular culture, the word gladiatrix is unknown in classical Latin. To my knowledge, it only appears once in late Latin, in a gloss from a fourth-century AD commentary on Juvenal (Scholia in Iuvenalem Vetustiora).

In Satire 6, Juvenal mocks a woman who trains as a gladiator in a ludus, asking if she prepares merely for the Floralia, or si quid in illo/pectore plus agitat veraeque paratur harenae? (“if she plans something more in that mind, and is preparing for the real arena?” 6.250–251).

The commentary provides a gloss on line 251, offering the following explanation: nam vere vult esse gladiatrix quae meretrix (“for truly she wants to be a gladiatrix who is a prostitute”).

This is a nice bit of research, doubtless courtesy of one of those databases inaccessible to the general public.  But it is no less valuable for that.

The standard edition of the Scholia appears to be Paul Wessner, Scholia in Iuvenalem Vetustiora, in the Teubner series in 1931.  This is not accessible online, even though Wessner died in 1933 and it must now be public domain, even in the benighted lands of the “European Union”.  Does anybody have a PDF, I wonder?

But Wessner’s volume seems to be unique.  I suspect the scholia were previously printed as an appendix to Juvenal: and indeed an old post of my own from 2011 confirms this – an 1839 edition has them on page 153.  Our passage is on p.214:

The editor tells us that he has placed an asterisk after some entries, which appear differently in more recent manuscripts.  I found his account of the manuscripts to be both vague and unhelpful, but learned that there are scholia in a St Gall manuscript.  This turns out to be Codex Sangallensis 871, 11th century, which is online at the amazing e-codices site here.  However the scholia were only copied for the first few pages.  Here is the starting page:

Later pages have space left for the scholia, which is not there.  The beginning of satire 6 is on p.46:

I don’t think that I have looked at the scholia themselves – last time it was the biography that interested me.  It is interesting to see them.


A couple of thoughts on translations of Juvenal

A kind correspondent sent me the introduction to the 2004 new Loeb edition of Juvenal.  I warmed to the translator (Susanna Braund) on the first page of the preface:

My aim in translating the Satires of Juvenal and Persius for the Loeb Classical Library has been to produce a translation that is vivid and vigorous and accessible, without compromising accuracy to the Latin text.  Ramsay’s 1918 Loeb translation has lasted remarkably well, but it is clearly time to update it and to incorporate advances in scholarship since then.

One central difficulty of preparing a translation which is designed for a long shelf life is that of contemporary idiom. There is no doubt that when we look back at translations of Juvenal that were in vogue in the 1960s, such as those of Rolfe Humphries (1958), Hubert Creekmore (1963), Jerome Mazzaro (1965), Charles Plumb (1968), and above all Peter Green’s 1967 Penguin, they seem very dated, not just because of their covers, but because they indulge too much in ephemeral expressions.

I have tried to strike a balance between their strategy of trendiness and the clumsiness that results from trying to reproduce the structures of an inflected language like Latin in a largely uninflected language like English.

The praise of Ramsay indicates good taste.

I also possess two modern translations; that of Rudd, and that of Green.  The comment on Green’s Penguin translation explained much that repelled me about it.

A little further on she says:

My aim has been to produce the most plausible text and translation of Persius and Juvenal, while making it possible for the reader to identify textual cruces that might affect interpretation.

In terms of translations, there were four stalwarts beside me throughout my work on Juvenal Ramsay ‘s 1918 Loeb, Niall Rudd’s translation for Oxford World’s Classics (1991), Steven Robinson’s idiosyncratic 1983 translation from Carcanet Press, and an old and lasting favourite of mine, the Rev. J. D. Lewis’ prose translation of 1873, my copy of which I purchased in 1975, just after I completed my BA, at a bookshop in Hay-on-Wye. John Henderson’s lively rendition of Satire 8 (1997) also proved provocative.

Both the Penguin and the OWC translations are still available.  Both feature repellent covers.  Penguin print an image from Pompeii of a sad-faced woman being groped, while OWC go a stage further with a truly loathsome Aubrey Beardsley drawing.  I was glad to remove both from my shelves.

The Green translation preface opens in the following remarkable way:

It is almost exactly thirty years since I finished the original edition of this book. That is a good life for the average translation. Times change, as the old anonymous tag reminds us, and we certainly change with them. I have a vivid memory of working on Juvenal’s later satires in smoky winter tavernas on Lesbos, or between spells of Aegean spear-fishing: my old tattered sandy-brown copy of Knoche’s 1950 text still carries a faint tang of sea-salt, faded stains of country wine and what was once the best olive-oil in Europe. By lucky accident my family and I missed the Anglo-American Sixties, and got by far the better of the bargain. I was then a free-lance writer and translator. I was also thin, deeply tanned, muscular, and as healthy as I have ever been. My classical training at Cambridge had put down roots in the here-and-now of Hellenic soil, and was infinitely improved by the change. A natural outsider, I had found my proper fulcrum, and was ready to shift the world. Juvenal – another outsider – and I got together at just the right time. My translation was energetic, impertinent, modernist, and took risks I would never have taken, then, as an academic.

It was also, of course, despite our being out of the Anglo-American loop, a quintessentially Sixties version: I might not be around any more in London or Cambridge, but the books kept flowing in, and without even realizing it I picked up a good many of the ideas and mannerisms of the era. In Athens I was also lured back into part-time academic teaching at university level. Fate was getting ready to hand me a special line in irony. Four years later I left Greece, and my free-lance existence, as it turned out, for ever: new job, new marriage, new life…. etc etc.

This is a bit much.  A blogger may talk about himself, and his long-suffering readers will put up with it.  No man pays for blog content, or rather no wise man does.  A purchaser of a book will feel annoyed at such things which have no place in the book.

The self-indulgent attitude does bleed into the translation too.  Looking at the opening lines of Green and Rudd suggests that a sober approach to the text works much better.  Here they are:


Must I always be stuck in the audience, never get my own back for all the times I’ve been bored by that ranting Theseid of Cordus? Shall X go free after killing me with his farces or Y with his elegies? No come-back for whole days wasted on a bloated Telephus, or Orestes crammed in the margins, spilling over on to the verso, and still not finished?


Must I be always a listener only, never hit back, although so often assailed by the hoarse Theseid of Codrus? Never obtain revenge when X has read me his comedies, Y his elegies? No revenge when my day has been wasted by mightyTelephus or by Orestcs who, having covered the final margin, extends to the back, and still isn’t finished?

Braund’s new Loeb is superior, I think:

Semper ego auditor tantum? numquamne reponam
vexatus totiens rauci Theseide Cordi?
inpune ergo mihi recitaverit ille togatas,
hic elegos? inpune diem consumpserit ingens
Telephus aut summi plena iam margine libri
scriptus et in tergo necdum finitus Orestes?

Shall I always be stuck in the audience? Never retaliate for being tortured so often by hoarse Cordus’ Song of Theseus? Let them get away with it, then?—this one reciting to me his Roman comedies and that one his love elegies? Let them get away with wasting my whole day on an enormous Telephus, or an Orestes written on the back when the margin at the end of the book is already full—and still not finished?

At least Braund doesn’t introduce the charmless “X” and “Y” in Green and Rudd?

We may look at Ramsay’s old Loeb translation too:

What? Am I to be a listener only all my days? Am I never to get my word in—-I that have been so often bored by the Theseid of the ranting Cordus? Shall this one have spouted to me his comedies, and that one his love ditties, and I be unavenged? Shall I have no revenge on one who has taken up the whole day with an interminable Telephus, or with an Orestes, which, after filling the margin at the top of the roll and the back as well, hasn’t even yet come to an end?

I suppose translations of Juvenal will continue to proliferate.  How much improvement each represents may be unclear.  But surely more can wait until progress has been made on the vast corpus of untranslated Latin texts – texts not even translated once?

An ancient life of Juvenal

Little is known about the satirist Juvenal, other than what can be gleaned from his works. There are ancient scholia, but these are plainly the product of Late Antiquity.

Reading the old 1913 Loeb edition of Juvenal, my eye was drawn to mention of an ancient biography of Juvenal, of dubious veracity.  The editor gave the Latin text of it, in the preface, but strangely not an English translation:

Vita D. Junii Juvenalis.—Iunius Iuvenalis, libertini locupletis incertum est filius an alumnus, ad mediam fere aetatem declamavit animi magis causa quam quod se scholae aut foro praepararet. Deinde paucorum versuum satyra non absurde composita in Paridem pantomimum poetamque [eius] semenstribus militiolis [1] tumentem [hoc ?] genus scripturae industriose excoluit. Et tamen diu ne modico quidem auditorio quicquam committere est ausus. Mox magna frequentia magnoque successu bis ac ter auditus est, id ea quoque quae prima fecerat inferciret novis scriptis:

Quod non dant proceres, dabit histrio. Tu Camerinos
Et Bareas, tu nobilium magna atria curas?
Praefectos Pelopea facit, Philomela tribunos.  (vii. 90-92)

Erat tum in deliciis aulae histrio multique fautorum eius cottidie provehebantur. Venit ergo Iuvenalis in suspicionem, quasi tempora figurate notasset, ac statim per honorem militiae quamquam octogenarius urbe summotus est missusque ad praefecturam cohortis in extrema parte tendentis Aegypti. Id supplicii genus placuit, ut levi atque joculari delicto par esset.  Verum intra brevissimum tempus angore et taedio periit.[2]

I found this 1857 translation online, by Maclaine:

Junius Juvenalis, the son or the alumnus (it is uncertain which) of a rich freedman, practised declamation till near middle life, more for amusement than by way of preparing himself for school or forum. Afterwards, having written a clever satire of a few verses on Paris the pantomimus, and a poet of his, who was puffed up with his paltry six months’ military rank, he took pains to perfect himself in this kind of writing. And yet for a very long time he did not venture to trust any thing even to a small audience. But after a while he was heard by great crowds, and with great success, several times: so that he was led to insert in his new writings those verses which he had written first:

What our great men won’t give you, the actor will.  Why
frequent the high antechambers of the Camerini and Bareae?
It is the Pelopea that appoints our Prefects, and the Philomela our Tribunes. (vii. 90-92)[3]

The player was at that time one of the favourites at court, and many of his supporters were daily promoted. Juvenal, therefore, fell under suspicion as one who had covertly censured the times; and forthwith under colour of military promotion, though he was eighty years of age, he was removed from the city, and sent to be praefectus of a cohort on its way to the farthest part of Egypt. That sort of punishment was determined upon as being suited to a light and jocular offence. Within a very short time he died of vexation and disgust.”[4]

Update Jan. 20201: I found this much better translation in Edward Courtney, A commentary on the satires of Juvenal, UCB rev. ed. (2013) p.5:

(D.) Junius Juvenalis, the son or adopted son (this is not established) of a rich freedman, was a declaimer until about middle age, more as a hobby than because he was preparing himself for a career as a professional declaimer or barrister. Then he composed a satire of a few verses, quite wittily, against the pantomime dancer Paris and his librettist, who was vain because of trivial six-month military appointments, and proceeded to devote himself to this style of writing. Yet for a long time he did not venture to entrust anything even to quite a small audience. Subsequently he gave readings a few times to packed audiences with such success that he inserted into his later writings his first composition also [then 7.90–2 are quoted]. At that time there was an actor who was a court favourite, and many of his fans were being promoted daily. Therefore Juvenal came under suspicion of making indirect attacks on the times, and, although in his eighties, he was removed from Rome by a military appointment and sent to take command of a cohort on its way to the remotest part of Egypt. This kind of punishment was decided upon so that it might match his trivial and humorous offence. However within a very short time he died because of vexation and disgust.

The remarks in the Loeb about this little text are frustratingly vague.  Maclaine also is vague, but he tells us a little more, which I will summarise.

There are, it seems, a number of these biographies, attached to various manuscripts, and he dismisses the lot.  He continues:

Another of these notices states that Juvenal was born at Aquinum, in the reign of Claudius; that he returned from exile, survived the reign of Trajan, and finally died of old age in a fit of coughing.

In a third we are told that when he returned to Rome, finding his friend Martial was dead, he died of grief in his eighty-first year.

A fourth says it was Domitian who exiled him; that he never returned, but that after correcting and adding to hi. Satires in Egypt, he died there of old age in the reign of Antoninus Pius.

From a fifth we learn that he was advanced to the equestrian rank through his own merit; that the place of his honourable exile was Scotland, and that the motive was that he might be killed in battle; that the emperor in a despatch addressed to him with the army, wrote these words, “et te Philomela promovit ” (alluding to his own epigram), and that, learning from this the anger of the emperor, he died of a broken heart.

The sixth memoir makes Trajan the emperor, Paris being still the hero of the epigram, and agrees with the fifth about Scotland.

A seventh agrees substantially with the first, except that the emperor is said to have been Nero.

These seven are published at the end of Jahn’s edition.

Jahn’s 1851 edition does indeed contain this material, together with the ancient scholia.[5]  It tells us that this first biography was edited by Lorenzo Valla, no less, as by “Probus”, and that it appears at the end of codex “P”, the Pithoeanus, now Ms. Montpellier 125 (9th c.), in a “more recent hand”; plus three other manuscripts from the 10th-13th centuries.

The other six biographies seem to be taken from a range of individual manuscripts, described vaguely, which we may guess to be late, and mostly at second-hand.

It’s good to have this material, but Jahn is now an exceedingly long time ago.  A. E. Housman’s 1905 edition is online here, with its mighty and often amusing preface, which I first read reprinted among that great poet and author’s literary works.  But he does not print the scholia or the vitae.

Fortunately I was able to locate a bibliography online in preview, from which I learn that the standard edition of the scholia today is that of W. V. Clausen, A. Persi Flacci et D. Iuni Iuuenalis satura, Oxford, 1992. This includes the ancient biography, and another short one as the first scholion.  The new Loeb is even more recent.  Some of what Jahn prints does not seem to be in either.

Update Jan 2021: The Scholia have recently been re-edited by S. Grazzini and published in 2 volumes in Pisa.  Manuscripts of the ancient biography are also coming online.  It appears on folio 1r of British Library Additional 15600, of the 9th century, online here.

In addition the Montpellier H25 (Pithoeanus) is also online here:

Very nice to see these!

  1. [1]The allusion is to honorary appointments to the military tribunate (imaginariae militiae genus, Suet. Claud. 25), a system instituted by Claudius in order that the holder might obtain equestrian rank. The word militiola means “a trumpery period of military service.”
  2. [2]Text from Juvenal and Persius, with an English translation by G. G. Ramsay, Litt.D., 1913, p.xvii-xviii.
  3. [3]The Pelopea and Philomela are stage-plays.
  4. [4]A. J. Macleane, Decii Junii Juvenalis et A. Persii Flacci Satirae, London, 1857, p.xiii-xiv.  Online here.  Macleane gave the quotation in Latin; I have replaced this with my own version of the Loeb translation.
  5. [5]Otto Iahn, D. Iunii Iuvenalis Saturarum: Libri V cum scholiis veteribus, Berlin, 1851. This may be found online here.  The scholia vetera start on p.169, the vitae on p.386.

The manuscripts of Juvenal

L. D. Reynolds, Texts and Transmissions: A survey of the Latin classics, Oxford 1983, is the first port of call for any enquiry into the transmission of any of the Latin classics.  On p.200-3 is the article by R. J. Tarrant on Juvenal.

Juvenal went through a period of obscurity after his own times.  Not cited by Donatus, or Jerome, he is referenced more than 70 times in the commentaries on Virgil by Servius.  Some of the manuscripts include subscriptions which suggest Servius may have been connected to their rediscovery: ms. K, for instance, contains Lego ego Niceus apud M. Serbium Romae et emendavi — I, Nicaeus, read this at the house of M. Servius in Rome and corrected it, and ms. L a version of the same.

More than 500 manuscripts later than the 9th century exist.  Unfortunately, by the 4th century, a considerable number of spurious lines  had already found their way into many copies of the text.  Difficult language was sometimes replaced by simpler expressions.  The vast majority of the medieval manuscripts derive from such corrupted copies.

As a rule we tend to find that medieval manuscripts go back to a single Dark Ages exemplar, or perhaps a few.  In the case of Juvenal, however, we can clearly see that two ancient families of manuscripts both gave rise to medieval children.  For in addition to the majority, we have a few manuscripts which preserve a more correct and less interpolated text, although the text itself is often rather more corrupt than in the interpolated copies.

The better mss. are:

  • P:   Montpellier H 125, first quarter of the 9th century, from Lorsch (online here).  Once owned by Pierre Pithou, who used it for his edition of 1585.  The Pithoeanus is the best and most important manuscript of Juvenal.  It also contains Persius.
  • Arou.:  Aarau, Stadtarchiv I, Nr. 0. The fragmenta Arouiensia.  These are five leaves from a destroyed manuscript of the 10th century, written in Germany, and broken up to use in bindings.  They are now in the Stadtarchiv in Aarau  (website here) An enquiry by email to them got the reply: “Das Juvenal-Fragment befindet sich im Stadtarchiv Aarau, I Nr. 0, vgl.: Katalog der mittelalterlichen Handschriften des Klosters Wettingen ; Katalog der mittelalterlichen Handschriften in Aarau, Laufenburg, Lenzburg, Rheinfelden und Zofingen, S. 195f.”.  It also contains scholia, which are important for several reasons.  Firstly each scholion is introduced by a quotation of a few words from the text.  These headwords or lemmata are themselves valuable for the authentic text.  Secondly the scholion itself sometimes reflects a different version of those same words, showing that the two were put together at different times.
  • Sang.:  St. Gall ms. 870, second quarter of the 9th century.  This is a florilegium — an anthology — which contains 280 lines of Juvenal.  Pp.40-326 contain the ancient scholia.
  • R:  Paris latin. 8072, from the end of the 10th century, probably French, containing long sections of the text.
  • V:  Vienna 107, end of the 9th century, containing book 1, line 1 – book 2, l.59 and book 3.107-5.96.

P, Arou. and Sang. are very closely related.  The first two are almost identical, with the text even laid out in the same manner on the page.  R and V are less reliable, and V has been much influenced by the other family.

The remaining manuscripts — hundreds of them — are hard to classify.  No stemma can be constructed because cross-contamination is so general, and even geographical groupings are pretty blurred.  This will not surprise any manuscript enthusiast.  For heavy lumps of wood and parchment, manuscripts travel about just as much as rock groups on tour, or so it seems sometimes.

Finally there are some fragments of ancient books containing Juvenal.  Two pages of a 6th century volume exist in ms. Vatican lat. 5750, with scholia, and also a portion of Persius.  More pages from a different 6th century book exist in Milan in ms. Ambrosianus Cimelio 3.  Finally a parchment leaf from Antinoe, ca. 500 AD, contains 49 lines of book 7.  None of these fragments agrees consistently with either of the medieval groups, unfortunately.

By the last decade of the 4th century, Juvenal had been equipped with a substantial commentary, which is the source for our scholia vetera (there are also Carolingian scholia), found in the three mss. P, Arou. and Sang.  Mommsen discussed the date of the commentary in his Gesammelte Schriften 7 (1909), p.509-11: Zeitalter des Scholiasten Juvenals.  The scholia must post-date 352-3, since there is a reference in the scholion on Juvenal book 10, l.24 to a praefectus urbis named Cerealis.  But much of the material must be older, or so the footnote says.  It can hardly date later than the abolition of paganism — the scholiast shows little knowledge of Christianity, and resorts to quoting Tacitus.  It is difficult to believe that the compulsory state religion could be unknown in the 5th century, and indeed the writer says that the gods are still worshipped.  The festival of the Matronalia is a state festival, as it still is shown in the Chronography of 354, but not in that of 449.  Likewise the term used for the silver coinage is not the silliqua of the 5th century, but the older terms argenteolus or nummus.

Mommsen concludes  that the commentary was composed ca. 400 AD, and that later, as is usual with ancient commentaries, it was pillaged for the materials to create the scholia in the margins of the new-fangled codex-style books.

The scholia on Juvenal

A few days ago I managed to find an edition of the “scholia vetera” on Juvenal, in an 1839 edition .  It starts on p.153, here.   It’s not a critical edition.  Indeed I believe the critical edition is that of 1937, but this is not accessible to me.  So … let’s make do with what we have.

The scholia begin with a vita.  Then the scholia begin, starting with some remarks on Semper ego…? (Why should I always…?)  I can’t help feeling that the scholia could usefully be translated.