Juvenal is a central author on courses in Classical Studies and has an important place on courses in comparative literature, both in the UK and USA. This new book by John Henderson shows how the eighth Satire, a brilliant piece of writing, makes fun of traditional Roman family values, and in the process displays the core of ideas and practices with which aristocratic culture at Rome enshrined itself - the display of geneologies, ancestral busts, proliferating names, the cult of exemplary legends - in all seriousness. Virgil and Horace are Juvenal's prize scalps in his spoof of the Roman fame-machine. The book is aimed at undergraduate students of Roman Satire, and advanced school students of Classical Civilisation; but the notes and Appendices also address scholars and advanced readers of Latin poetry and Roman cultural politics, supporting a new close-reading and engaging with literary theory. All Latin is translated.
John Henderson is Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge and Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics of King's College, Cambridge. He is co-author (with Mary Beard) of Classics: A very short introduction (Oxford, 1995) and is the author of many books, including Figuring Out Roman Nobility: Juvenal's Eighth Satire (1997) and A Roman Life: Rutilius Gallicus on Paper and In Stone (1998), both published by University of Exeter Press.
Its verve, along with Henderson's impressive scholarship, sets this work apart from the drear, scripted prose endemic to culture criticism. Henderson writes with committed energy rather than dogmatism, with an eye to the words on the page as well as the ideologies subtending them. [This is a ...] brilliant, tough and valuable book.
The Classical Review, XLIX, 1
The book belongs to a series designed to make the latest research accessible to a student and general readership. I hope that students and others will make the effort needed for this, like any interaction with a piece of Hendersonese (though this is much 'easier' than some of his tours de force), and will be attracted by the punning, playful, allusive style. Hardened academics should check it out, for this is sustained literary and cultural criticism from one of the cleverest classicists currently active.
Greece and Rome, 44.2
John Henderson's witty and provocative study of Juvenal's excoriating satire on noble family trees, sets out, as it were, to hunt for the unpatched arse-holes of the Roman aristocracy.
Times Literary Supplement
Well grounded in solid literary scholarship, displaying the author's indisputably wide and detailed knowledge of Latin literature. It is well buttressed by a supportive structure of appendices in which the author's erudition is apparent.