Satire is a technique employed by writers to expose and criticize the foolishness and corruption of an individual or a society, by using humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule. A writer in a satire uses fictional characters, which stand for real people, to expose and condemn their corruption. A writer may point a satire toward a person, a country, or even the entire world. Usually, satire is a comical piece of writing which makes fun of an individual or a society, to expose its stupidity and shortcomings. In addition, he hopes that those he criticizes will improve their characters by overcoming their weaknesses.
The satires written in the first century AD are a collection of satirical poems written by Latin author Juvenal. The satires written by Juvenal are categorized into 5 different groups all accompanying 16 satires. Each satire has its own theme or target, ranging from decadent aristocrats and hypocritical moralists. The sheer force of his outrage and his rhetorical remarks sweep the reader along at the same time as they flinch back from his bigotry. In Juvenal’s own words, it’s difficult not to write satire, and once you are sucked into its twisted world, it is difficult not to read it. Throughout these Satires, the theme of Juvenal criticizing many of his contemporaries is evident and key. Juvenal also goes on to provide more insight into value systems and questions of morality and less into the realities of Roman Life. Juvenal also shows his concerns through the Satires about the threats to the social continuity of the Roman Citizens. The main points he shows concerns about are: social-climbing foreigners, unfaithfulness, and other more extreme excesses of their own class. Juvenal also makes constant allusions to history and myth as a source of object lessons or to showcase examples of particular vices and virtues.
The Satires attack two main themes: the corruption of society in the city of Rome and the follies and brutalities of mankind. In the first Satire, Juvenal declares that vice, crime, and the misuse of wealth have reached such a peak that it is impossible not to write satire, but, since it is dangerous to attack powerful men in their lifetime, he will take his examples from the dead. A quote in Satire 1 that reflects this is - “Is it a simple form of madness to lose a hundred thousand sesterces, and not have a shirt to give to a shivering slave?” Here Juvenile is seen questioning the unfair selfishness that the wealthy have adapted to. The third satire Juvenile starts by addressing the audience in the first person, explaining that his friend Umbricius, whom he is meeting for the last time on the edge of the city of Rome, is about to depart from Rome for a better life in the country, a decision of which Juvenal thoroughly approves. He then joins the audience as Umbricius, a loyal Roman citizen who can no longer endure his homeland and speaks his mind in an extended monologue. He explains his reasons for leaving. He tells the audience that there is no longer any room for honest men, only liars, and paupers, and the only way to earn the patronage of great men is to learn their guilty secrets. He talks about; how Greeks and Syrians (who are willing to lie and cheat and do whatever it takes) are starting to drive out the native Romans from their jobs and now only rich men believed in their oaths.