You are here


Juvenal introduces his poetic predecessor, the inventor of satire Gaius Lucilius, as an Auruncae alumnus (1.20). The scholiast explains the description as a reference to Lucilius’ Campanian hometown of Suessa Aurunca, a fortified Samnite War stronghold. Juvenal uses the word Auruncus only once more, in his next satire, where it appears in a line, stolen in part from Virgil’s Aeneid, denoting a mirror that is Actoris Aurunci spolium (2.100). The conflation of the satiric with an epic model, where being Campanian is concerned, recalls the mock-heroic contest between Sarmentus the scurra and the Oscan Messius Cicirrus in Horace’s Satires 1.5, when the latter is mocked for his obscure ‘Campanian disease’ (S. 1.5.62). Porphyrio’s identification of that poem’s dependence on Lucilius Book 3 makes it probable that Campanian identity played a role in the first satirist’s self-presentation.

From that starting-point I offer in this paper two observations about Campanian culture in the poetry of the satirist Lucilius who was, according to Jerome, given a public funeral in Naples, with multiple caveats: that some speculation is necessary in the light of the fragmentary nature of Lucilius’ remains; that Lucilius’ allusions demand biographical readings, given Horace’s aggressive characterizations of his flaws; and that Campanian origins do not, unfortunately, explain Lucilius’ virtuosic code-switching, mingling Greek words with his Latin, a practice condemned by Horace in Satires 1.10.

Cicero likens his addressee Paetus to Granius, Lucilius, Crassus and Laelius as an imaginem antiquae et uernaculae festiuitatis (Fam. 9.15.2). A common denominator for all of these figures is residence in Campania. Unlike Naevius, whose epitaph, according to Gellius, demonstrated that he was plenum superbiae Campaniae (Gell. 1.24.2), Lucilius was, for Horace, a humble participant in a private game played with Scipio Aemilianus and Laelius while the rustic cabbage cooked (S. 2.1.71-4). Since Horace also claims that Lucilius was able to rattle off two hundred verses before and after dinner (S. 1.10.60-1), witty poetry may have been part of a Campanian camaraderie. In another letter, Cicero jokes that Paetus was so hungry that he ate or sold his horse and will only have a mule on which to ride back to Rome (Fam. 9.18.4). In this light, I analyze a three-line Lucilian fragment, 506-8M=511-3W, preserved by Gellius, which features a ‘Campanian clatterer’ (Campanus sonipes) so slow it seems to be going backwards. I argue that Lucilius, an eques, here offered a self-deprecatory pose that ironically foreshadows the later satiric focus on horse-riding as a Lucilian hobby – from the contrast of Horace’s gelded mule on which he could ride all the way to Tarentum (S. 1.6.104-6) with Lucilius ‘piloting his Satureian steed around the countryside’ (S. 1.6.59), to Juvenal’s depiction of Lucilius as he equos ... flexit (1.20).

I also suggest that warfare in Campania contributed to assumptions about Lucilius’ values. Two origin stories are relevant: one about how the naming of gladiators ‘Samnites’ may have resulted from the hatred of Campanians for their defeated Samnite enemies (Liv. 9.40.17), and the other regarding the founding of the Temple of Juno Moneta on the Roman Arx, as vowed by Lucius Furius Camillus to the goddess in the midst of battle against the Aurunci in 345 B.C. (Liv. 7.28). The first aetiology could explain the seemingly editorial condemnation of the gladiator Aeserninus at 149-52M=172-5W (Samnis at 150M=173W), whose angry opponent, the unique fighter Pacideianus, is a stand-in for the poet. The violence depicted here is often uncritically ascribed to the satirist, but my reading brings cultural influences into play too. Likewise, the reminiscence of a defeat against the natives of Suessa Aurunca may help explain a persistent fixation on money, Juno Moneta’s domain, in the fragments, including a cryptic line about selling the Muses, Moneta’s daughters, to Laverna, the goddess of thieves (549M=564W). These examples flesh out Juvenal’s vignette of Lucilius raging ense uelut stricto (1.165), and cause us to question how unequivocally Roman, rather than Campanian, Lucilius was.

© 2020, Society for Classical Studies Privacy Policy