Juvenal: Satires

Rhetorical Strategies of Identity-Construction in Juvenal's Satire VI and Cicero's Catiline Orations

In Satire VI and In Catilinam I and II, Juvenal and Cicero both make attacks on their enemies' personal conduct to construct a Roman identity while appealing to "Roman values." Their projects are indeed very similar; both raise questions of class, expressing fear at the way in which wealth and luxury are changing traditional values. Yet while Juvenal uses predominantly overt ad hominem attacks and misogyny throughout his satire, Cicero's two orations demonstrate a slightly more complex range of tactics for constructing identity.

The logic that Juvenal follows in his satire is perhaps crystallized in his analysis of the relationship between wealth and morality: "filthy lucre it was that first brought loose foreign morals amongst us, effeminate wealth that with vile self-indulgence destroyed us over the years" (l. 298-300). The language employed in this passage recalls and anticipates themes that he develops throughout the satire. Firstly, the passage recalls Juvenal's opening sentence ("during Saturn's reign I believe that Chastity still lingered on earth" (l. 1-2)) in its assumption that there was once a golden age of morals that has been supplanted by corruption. This assumption is...

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