The opening of Juvenal’s longest and maybe the most well-known poem, Satire 6, is based on the ancient concept of the “Ages of Man”, starting from the reign of Saturn and ending with the flight of the two sisters, Pudicitia and Astraea. The first part of this 24-line-long passage depicts the Golden Age by making use of two different sourc
...es: the idealized Golden Age appearing in Vergil’s poetry among others and the prehistoric primitive world from Book 5 of Lucretius. The Juvenalian Golden Age, presented briefly in a naturalistic way, is a curious amalgam of these two traditions, being the only time in human history according to the poet when marital fidelity was unblemished. However, while reading Satire 6, it seems far from obvious that the lack of adultery should be attributed to higher morals.
In this paper, the presence of food and dinners in connection with epic poetry in three different Juvenalian poems is discussed. The first is Satire 4 containing a mock-epic, the plot of which revolves around a giant turbot that is described with epic-style elements, and that is given to the emperor Domitian characterized by uncontroll
...ed gluttony. The other two poems, Satires 5 and 11, both focusing on dinner parties, are in connection with the epic genre as well: while in the closing poem of Book 1, several epic connotations appear in the description of the gluttonous Virro’s extravagant dinner, in Satire 11, the enjoyment of epic poetry is praised and compared to an almost pornographic dance performance in a luxurious feast. Reading the three poems together, it might be proved from another aspect that we have to make a distinction between the Juvenalian evaluation of topics described using epic-style elements and the epic poetry itself.