Juvenal

Posted in Ancient World, Education, J. Paul Getty Museum

The Seven Plagues of the Ancient Roman City Dweller

Evening traffic along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, near the Getty Villa
It's nothing new: Gridlock and bad air, A.D. 2009. Photo: Eric Demarq, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Think city living is a struggle today? The ancient Romans had it just as tough, giving their poets plenty to complain about Roman poetry is filled with entertaining rants against urban evils, which I revisited with glee while preparing for… More»

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      From you have I been absent in the spring,
      When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
      Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
      That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him,
      Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
      Of different flowers in odor and in hue,
      Could make me any summer’s story tell,
      Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.
      Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
      Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
      They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
      Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
      Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,
      As with your shadow I with these did play.

      —William Shakespeare, born April 23, 1564

      Vase of Flowers (detail), 1722, Jan van Huysum. The J. Paul Getty Museum

      04/23/14

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