Presenter: Dr James Uden (Boston University)

Scholars have underestimated the significance of religion in the sixteen Satires of the Roman poet Juvenal, which were published in the first three decades of the second century A.D. This talk argues that Juvenal is engaged with the contemporary religious world of second-century Rome. This was a time of mobility and change, in which ‘Roman’ religion was being redefined, and these changes are increasingly central as a theme of his five books. Moreover, questions of myth and belief are a key part of our experience of Juvenal’s text. These poems, as well as commenting on myth and religion, offer their own outrageously mythical vision of contemporary Rome – then dare us to believe it. Ultimately, the religious world of the Satires is one that Juvenal creates himself, as a bitter reflection of changes in the world around him.