Satires of Juvenal

Gladiator at the Colosseum

Satires of Juvenal

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Satires of Juvenal


History, Facts and Information about Satires of Juvenal

The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about the Satires of Juvenal. Most gladiators were recruited from prisoners of war and slaves but there is significance documented evidence that wealthy Roman women also fought in the arena as female gladiators. This article is additional information to that which can be found on the following link:

Female Gladiators 

The Satires of Juvenal - Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis
The story of the female gladiators of Ancient Rome continues with the work of Juvenal. Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, commonly referred to as Juvenal, was a Roman poet in the late 1st and early 2nd century AD. Juvenal was the author of the Satires. The Satires by Juvenal was a collection of satirical poems reflecting on life in Ancient Rome. One of the Satires of Juvenal provides details of the women who fought as female gladiators in the bloody arenas of Ancient Rome. Reading this particular poem from the Satires of Juvenal provides a fascinating insight into the lives and views of people of Ancient Rome and in particular his views on female Gladiators!

Roman Literature

The Satires of Juvenal - The Female Gladiators
This poem taken from the Satires by Juvenal is a scathing denouncement of women who sought to behave like men...

"Who has not seen the dummies of wood they slash at and batter
Whether with swords or with spears, going through all the moves?
These are the girls who blast on trumpets in honour of Flora.
Or, it may be, they have deeper designs, and are really preparing for the arena itself.
How can a woman be decent, sticking her head in a helmet, denying her sex she was born with?
Manly feats they adore, but they wouldn't want to be men,
Poor weak things (they think), how little they really enjoy it!
What great honour it is for a husband to see, at an auction
Where his wife's effects are up for sale, belts, greaves, manica and plumes!
Hear her grunt and groan as she works at it, parrying, thrusting;
See her neck bent down under the weight of her helmet.
Look at the rolls of bandage and tape, so her legs look like tree trunks.
Then have a laugh for yourself after the practice is over,
Armour and weapons are put down, and she squats as she uses the vessel.
Ah, degenerate girls of the line of our praetors and consuls,
Tell us, whom have you seen got up in any such fashion,
Panting and sweating like this? No gladiators wench,
No tough strip-tease broad would ever so much as attempt it."

From the Satires of  Juvenal.

Comments on the poem from the Satires of Juvenal - Gladiator Training
The following are comments on the poem about women gladiators from the Satires of Juvenal.

Who has not seen the dummies of wood they slash at and batter
Whether with swords or with spears, going through all the moves?

These lines by Juvenal refer to a gladiators training techniques. There were at least four great imperial gladiator training schools in Ancient Rome which were all just a short distance from the Roman Colosseum. Each had an arena, similar to the the one in the Colosseum, but smaller. The arenas in the training schools were surrounded by raised seating, the largest held 3000 spectators. Many Romans visited these training schools when there were no gladiatorial games being staged at the Colosseum. Juvenal was clearly one of these spectators and he was talking about the training techniques which were used by both men and women gladiators. Gladiators practised their skills with a sword, or with spears, using a wooden dummy. Gladiators also rehearsed their moves just as athletes do in modern day sports.

Comments on the poem from the Satires of Juvenal - The Roman Goddess Flora
The following are comments on the poem about the Roman Goddess Flora from the Satires of Juvenal.

These are the girls who blast on trumpets in honour of Flora.
Or, it may be, they have deeper designs, and are really preparing for the arena itself.

Flora was the Roman Goddess of spring, youth, flowers and fertility. Her companion was said to be Hercules. The male gladiators were involved in the cult worship of the god Hercules. Hercules was their 'hero godí famous for his great strength and performing the 'Twelve Labours of Hercules' which involved killing wild animals with his bare hands. The Floral Games, Ludi Florales, or Floralia, were staged in honor of the Goddess Flora and were celebrated from April 28 through May 3. Juvenal appears to be referring to the celebrations in honor of Flora (such as music and fanfares) but questions these activities as being a 'smokescreen' for the women preparing to not only to appear in the arena, but also to fight in the arena.

Satires of Juvenal - Hairstyles and Helmets!
The following are comments on the poem about the hairstyles and helmets from the Satires of Juvenal.

How can a woman be decent, sticking her head in a helmet, denying her sex she was born with?

The women of Ancient Rome were restricted in the type of clothing and jewelry that they were allowed to wear. And, unlike Roman men, their style of dress did not clearly indicate a high status in society. Their hairstyles were therefore really important to Roman women. The more elaborate the hairstyle, the better. So was not only the wearing of a heavy helmet minimising their femininity it also covered the elaborate hairstyles of wealthy women and disguised their status.

Satires of Juvenal - Poor Weak things?
The following are comments on the poem about the Roman Goddess Flora from the Satires of Juvenal.

Manly feats they adore, but they wouldn't want to be men,
Poor weak things (they think), how little they really enjoy it!

Juvenal is perhaps commenting on women envying the lifestyle of men, but when it comes to matching physical skills and strength it is extremely difficult. However, Juvenal acknowledges that women in general are not weak. 

Satires of Juvenal - Armor of Gladiators
The following are comments on the poem about the armor of gladiators from the Satires of Juvenal.

What great honour it is for a husband to see, at an auction
Where his wife's effects are up for sale, belts, greaves, manica and plumes!

Juvenal at his most sarcastic! He is pointing out what might happen if a free female gladiator is killed. He makes reference to the armor of gladiators (leg armor - greaves, arm - manica and head protection - the plumes on helmets) which might be her legacy.

Satires of Juvenal - Grunt and Groan
The following are comments on the poem from the Satires of Juvenal.

Hear her grunt and groan as she works at it, parrying, thrusting

In modern day we use the term 'grunt and groan' referring to male wrestlers. He has cleverly used these words to emphasis the lack of femininity of the women.

Satires of Juvenal - Appearance of Female Gladiators
The following are comments on the poem about the appearance of female gladiators from the Satires of Juvenal.

See her neck bent down under the weight of her helmet.
Look at the rolls of bandage and tape, so her legs look like tree trunks.

Juvenal is insulting the female gladiators - he's calling them fat! The rolls of bandage and tape are 'fascia' were protective arm and leg wrappings found in Roman Gladiator Armor.  

Satires of Juvenal - Chamber Pots
The following are comments on the poem from the Satires of Juvenal.

Then have a laugh for yourself after the practice is over,
Armour and weapons are put down, and she squats as she uses the vessel.

All Roman cities were highly dependent on chamber pots and Juvenal is making snide reference to this 'matter of convenience' and how, after using the male trappings of weapons and armor, women were forced to adopt the most inelegant of female positions.

Satires of Juvenal - Worse than Harlots!
The following are comments on the poem from the Satires of Juvenal.

Ah, degenerate girls of the line of our praetors and consuls,
Tell us, whom have you seen got up in any such fashion,
Panting and sweating like this? No gladiators wench,
No tough strip-tease broad would ever so much as attempt it.

Juvenal is clearly expressing his disgust that the female family members of high ranking Roman magistrates or Roman army commanders were behaving worse than the lowest harlots.

Satires of Juvenal
The content of this Satires of Juvenal category on life in Ancient Rome provides free educational details, facts and information for reference and research for schools, colleges and homework. Refer to the Colosseum Sitemap for a comprehensive search on interesting different categories containing the history, facts and information about Ancient Rome. Just like the subject of Satires of Juvenal there is hardly a page of Roman history and the Romans that is not, on some way, connected to the Roman Colosseum which became a symbol of Rome, its society, culture and life.

Satires of Juvenal

 
Satires of Juvenal

  • History, Facts and information about Satires of Juvenal
  • The times and people of Ancient Rome
  • The society, culture and life of the Romans
  • The Romans and life in Ancient Rome
  • Satires of Juvenal
  • Ancient history, facts and interesting information about the Romans

The Romans - Satires of Juvenal - Ancient Rome - Encyclopedia - Reference - Research - Gladiators - Facts - History - Famous - Information - Info - Romans - Italy - Educational - Schools - Colleges - Homework - Anceint - Satires of Juvenal - Written By Linda Alchin

Satires of Juvenal