DOI link for Ammianus Satiricus
Ammianus Satiricus book
My ambition in this chapter is to consider the nature of the relationship between the Res Gestae of Ammianus and the Satires of Juvenal, and from that briefly to address issues such as the historian’s attitude towards the satirist, to satire in general and its place in historiography, to himself and to the reading public of fourth-century Rome. I focus on the two passages about Roman manners, that is, 14.6.1-26 and 28.4.1-35. Both are classified as digressions with Ammianus’ unmistakable expression of a ‘return’ to his main theme at the end of each-redeundum ad textum (14.6.26) and redeamus ad cetera (28.4.35). They are reasonably substantial, and each is replete with details about contemporary Roman mores. The first begins by viewing Rome’s history as the lifecycle of man (14.6.1-6), before proceeding to discuss the faults of the nobles (7-24) and then the city’s poor (24-26). A similar distinction between rich and poor articulates the second digression (28.4.6-27 and 28-34). My contention is that these digressions draw on the Satires of Juvenal. This claim is not new, but what has been lacking hitherto is a broadbased comparison between the two authors, from which conclusions can be clearly set out and interpretations adopted.1 A more detailed appreciation of the relationship between the two authors will lead to clearer understanding of this historian’s compositional practices.