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Fleeing Sisters: the Golden Age in Juvenal 6
Published September 1, 2020

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 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.

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