Perhaps more than any other writer, Juvenal (c. AD 55-138) captures the splendour, the squalor and the sheer energy of everyday Roman life. In The Sixteen Satires he evokes a fascinating world of whores, fortune-tellers, boozy politicians, slick lawyers, shameless sycophants, ageing flirts and downtrodden teachers. A member of the traditional land-owning class that was rapidly seeing power slip into the hands of outsiders, Juvenal also creates savage portraits of decadent aristocrats - male and female - seeking excitement among the lower orders of actors and gladiators, and of the jumped-up sons of newly-rich former slaves. Constantly comparing the corruption of his own generation with its stern and upright forebears, Juvenal's powers of irony and invective make his work a stunningly satirical and bitter denunciation of the degeneracy of Roman society
Little is known about Juvenal's life (A.D. 55 - 140) except that his satirical sketches caused much controversy and resulted in him being exiled from his home country for a period of years. Peter Green was Director of Studies in Classics at Cambridge and then worked for a number of years as a freelance writer, translator and journalist. In 1963 he emigrated to Greece and lectured in Greek history and literature at Athens from 1966 to 1971. He is now Dougherty Centennial Professor of Classics at University of Texas, Austin.