Juvenalian Satire

1439 Words6 Pages
200,000 years: The approximate age of humankind. 6,000 years: The approximate age of civilization. If these numbers are true, human beings existed for 194,000 years without established language, education, or government. Unfortunately, these numbers are not accurate. Civilization has never existed on the Earth, despite what “civilized” humans say. Human beings have not evolved from their primitive ancestors, which is why they turn to war and violence without batting an eyelash. As demonstrated by the evolution from Juvenal’s Satire 15 to The Onion’s “Constantly Worrying What Other People Think About Your War Crimes Is No Way To Live Your Life,” the prevalence of violence throughout the history of humankind has not diminished, requiring harsher…show more content…
Around 100 A.D., Juvenal’s Satires were popular amongst the aristocrats in Rome for their criticism and ridicule of the peasantry and several mundane issues. That was the case until he wrote Satire 15 and offended the wealthy and educated, the militia, the entire population of Egypt, and humankind in only 174 lines. Satire 15 satirizes human violence towards human and the flawed belief that if one does not see violence first hand, then it did not happen. In it, Juvenal describes a war between two neighboring towns in Egypt who are “filled with fury against the other because each hates its neighbours’ Gods” (Juvenal 1). Juvenal’s contradictory descriptions of the war emphasize his reason for approaching the educated classes in Italy and civilized Europe with such a story. The war is called a feud to downplay its violence in the beginning, but there is no way to downplay that “we now behold a people whose wrath is not assuaged by slaying someone, but who deem that a man's breast, arms, and face afford a kind of food” (Juvenal 4). The use of paradox and oxymoron understates the severity of the issue, while the use of hyperbole and charged words provides the cynical tone that makes Juvenalian satires, especially this one, effective…show more content…
While not actually written by Syria’s totalitarian leader Bashar al-Assad, the article is written in his perspective, which makes it Juvenalian. The satire understates human violence in a similar way to Satire 15, however, it does not rely on the dichotomy between euphemism and hyperbole to make its point. Assad advises people to “remain true to [their] deepest convictions and live life on [their] own terms.” (Al-Assad 1) He uses personal anecdotes of others “judg[ing] me for secretly imprisoning and torturing more than 13,000 people or starving thousands of children to death” (Al-Assad 2). By using this apophasis and seeming to pass over his horrible acts of inhumanity, Bashar al-Assad is forming a connection with those who watch the news and see a similar dismissal of death. Two people die every second, but the world only knows of those that are important or interesting. This rating system of human lives is what allows Assad to commit mass atrocities and The Onion to make humor out of it. “Constantly Worrying What Other People Think About Your War Crimes Is No Way To Live Your Life” is wrought with rhetorical questions that coax people to form a connection with and listen to a despot. It preys
Open Document