The Roman Juvenal (c. 55-127 AD) was the best and bravest of satirists. Best because he confined his barbs to the two most deserving targets – civic corruption, and the follies and brutalities of mankind. Bravest because he began his career as a literary sniper under one of Rome’s most corrupt and brutal regimes, that of the much-feared emperor Domitian. Asked why he wrote satire, Juvenal (anticipating, perhaps, Mallory’s ‘Because it’s there’ reason for tackling Everest) quipped, ‘Difficile est saturam non scribere’: ‘It’s hard not to.’ Twenty centuries later, looking around at the sleaze and silliness that still infects our public life and contaminates our decision-making processes, one knows what he means. Given, though, that twenty centuries later nothing much has changed, the satirist of today might equally wonder ‘why bother?’