Ethics, Values, and Morals

Juvenal’s Satyrae is a valuable source that acts as a window into the ethics of humanists of the Italian Renaissance. The Satyrae was a powerful collection of satires used by Guarino to teach his students about morality and ethical issues. The manuscript thus provides insight into the kind of moral education that students received during this period.
Juvenal preached a wide variety of ethics through his Satyrae: his primary intent was to attack Ancient Rome for its moral corruption. While the sixteen satires cover many ethical issues, there are themes that can be consistently seen throughout, such as wealth, sexuality, and vice. Juvenal targeted many groups of people, the primary group being the elite, who he condemned for their extravagant lifestyle and poor treatment of clients. Juvenal advocated for a lifestyle of simplicity and discouraged the misuse of money. One of his main goals was to solve economic inequality and poverty. To live a virtuous life, Juvenal preached that people should help others for the sake of the greater good and invest in the moral education of children. Readers were told that popular aspirations such as power, fame, beauty, old age, and wealth were misleading ideals that provided only a false sense of happiness, and that these frivolous things should be abandoned.
Some morals that Juvenal preached conflict with modern values and ideals. Throughout the Satyrae, Juvenal made attacks on various minorities: he condemned homosexuals, for example, as well as men who possessed traits considered feminine. Additionally, he criticized women for making their husbands miserable, cheating on them, and for being promiscuous. He also attacked, mocked, and degraded Greek immigrants, blaming them for transforming the city for the worse. Juvenal perceived minorities and the decadent elite as the reason for Rome’s moral decay, and he advocated for a return to traditional values and virtues as well as strict social conformity.
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