Thanks to my Editors, especially Dragonsweb for giving this old story a slight cleanup
Editors Note: Juvenal is among the most elusive of classical writers. We do not know where he was born, or when (approx. 60CE? — 127CE?). We know almost nothing about his life or that of any of his family. Juvenal published most of his works during the time of the Emperor Hadrian and some sources suggest that he may have been exiled to Egypt at some point in his life for writing satires about people buying their way into public offices. Three letters had been previously found written from Juvenal to Martial, suggesting that they were friends.
This newly found but highly controversial letter written on 1st Century CE dated papyrus and found in a sealed jar in the ruins of a recently excavated Roman era villa in Spain suggests that this might have been the home of his friend Martial, a renown poet, known to have spent his latter years of his life somewhere in Spain. Perhaps some day, further excavations at this site will unearth more of Martial's or Juvenal's letters.
'Studies in Roman Literature' is proud to be the first to publish in full the details of this remarkable letter after lengthy consultation and the unconditional approval of 'Beach Boy' Brian Wilson, despite the promises of future litigation by Mike Love.
Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis, to his friend Marcus Valerius Martialis, Greetings.
I received your recent letter with great delight and I look forward to hearing confirmation of your news that the new Emperor Nerva will be extending an amnesty and allowing all exiles, such as your poor friend, to return home. I cannot pretend that I have enjoyed any of my stay in Aegyptus these last five years and I look forward to enjoying a few of those dinner parties you so frequently and aptly depict in your letters to me.
Still, I'd probably make those comments about poor hapless Paris all over again, he really had the most severe trouble keeping his private parts under control and the world certainly did not lose any great actor when I was proven right and he made his ill-fated attempt to dip his quill into the Empress herself.
He and his friends made a lot of coin selling public offices and the matter was just far too blatant and richly corrupt for me to avoid setting a few lines to print about it. The late Emperor Domitian ought to have pardoned me for that warning alone, but he was always quick to see daggers in every cloak cupboard. Undoubtedly he is now happier as a shade in the great presence of all of the other holy Caesars and doing the Divine Julius the honor of offering to be his butt-boy in the heavens.
Again, I am grateful to you for your efforts on my behalf back in Roma and in full payment of this considerable debt to you I shall relate that story I have kept secret in my heart to which you have so often previously requested some details of — offering to you a true confession that even I have once made worship unto Venus and can speak of at least one worthy woman of virtue that I could not stab my pointed daggers of satire against.
Like mine, I know your purse is always under a great strain and stories such as the one I shall now reluctantly relate, would be better than coins for admission to those dinner parties hosted by those degraded families of ancient name or the equally obnoxious wealthy upstarts that seek to ape their contempt and corruption in all manners. I would beg with you however to keep this story secret, as it contains several foibles of my youth that I would prefer not reach the level of casual conversation amongst our betters — especially if either of us would seek their future patronage. A necessity for us poor writers!
Only out of my highest regard for our friendship do I dare recall and recount these events, which will undoubtedly give you great mirth in their reading.
The matter to which you have so pointedly enquired after began the summer after I first assumed my manly toga in the last year of Titus's reign. I had finished my studies with the great rhetorician Quintilian and I was enjoying a late summer at my father's home near Aquinum for a few weeks before I was to join the civil service in Britannia under the Governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola, a very good career position that my father's excellent contacts and patronage had obtained for me.
My father's house at the time was in a bit of an uproar as he had just recently taken a much younger wife, only a little older than I was. She was a lady of only incidental virtue and already much given to sordid affairs behind her new husband's back, of which he remained obstinately blind to, despite an ample amount of obvious proof. In fact, I have used the character of my new stepmother in many of my later satires. It is this specific contempt for her, rather than an overall general contempt for all women, that has much confused you in your earlier editorial readings of some of my writings, that you have otherwise highly praised. Remember, for satire to be especially biting and effective, it is sometimes a necessary literary device to appear to uphold extreme opinions that might not necessarily be the author's personal opinion. In this while I often find considerable fault with the females of our people, I do not hold them all responsible for the many crimes of my step-mother, nor do I attribute to all females the many evils that this particular one woman possessed.
Indeed, I had not been home but for a single day when my own new stepmother entered into my bedroom in the early morning and having aroused my manhood into its prime state, did make me a reluctant partner into cuckolding my own father. After a second such encounter, I resolved to find any expediency by which I could absent myself from her embraces. Her stamina and carnal enthusiasms seemed boundless and for any one man to satisfy her would require the lechery of a satyr, or at least he would need to be a Greek.
Indeed, she was also finding comfort in her whorish unchastity in the arms of several of my father's household guards. But who is to keep guard over the guards themselves? They get paid in common coin to forget their mistresses' randy little adventures. Quis custodiet ipsos custodies indeed! This is a rather nice line ... I think I'll use this in one of my satires!
My escape from my father's potential wrath was successful by the timely invitation to visit to some old family friends who had a villa near the coast at Minturnae. I borrowed one of my father's older chariots and took my leave of the adulterous embraces of my new mother, but not before she had added considerably to my small stock of erotic knowledge.
I enjoyed my stay with my new hosts, but in truth there was very little of interest to do at their villa and their library was sadly deficient of even the staples of literature with nary a decent scroll to be found. For my daily amusement, I took to making long drives and walks in the countryside. There were many hills and mountains in the area with small fishing villages nestled between them, often with just a rocky path leading up a step cliff leading away from the town, otherwise surrounded on all sides by severe limits of high rock and often rough seas.
On one such visit along the seaside cliffs I found a new, scarcely visible, pathway that lead down to a small rock-strewn beach. A number of young, nubile village girls were about their normal task of diving for shellfish in the heavy surf, but one young lady, whom I shall name as Lalla, was displaying unusual grace and style by standing and riding on top of the high waves upon a wooden plank, undoubtedly washed ashore from a wrecked or damaged galley during a recent storm.
Her skill gliding upon the top of the water was superb. I watched her again and again ride out upon the fierce sea waves to arrive each time safely upon the rocky shore. I lauded her efforts and made a small fire from other washed up ship wreckage and watched the young lady with admiration. Her countenance had much to be admired as she was well-ripened at the hips and breasts, and a most suitable object for romantic courtship for a young lad...
She wore but a short bit of cloth tied about her waist and her full breasts were bare for my appreciation and appeared to be well used to the caresses and kisses of the sun and sea breezes. She made no secret of the fact that she was well aware of my presence and did not look upon my attentions with distain, but she had no thoughts of modesty as she again and again rode her board through the surf, entirely at bliss with her play.
My muse, always a fickle bitch, was inspired by her and these words came instantly to mind, as but part of a great poem I felt now suddenly worthy and able to write.
"Surfer est qui tabula super undas venilias prolabitur"
Too long really, and not a good start nor a promising hexameter.
"Mene amas, puellula veniliatrix?"
Poor Latin perhaps but otherwise much better! The words came straight from my heart to my lips.
"Do you love me Surfer Girl?"
She was as Venus, rising from the surf on her scallop shell and my heart had no power to resist her as she, at last, left the water and came willingly to my side. We wordlessly embraced and became lovers that evening by my fire and under the watchful and approving eyes of the Gods. As we found our highest pleasure together the final words of my poem became complete, and for your amusement my friend I shall impart to you these few sacred lines, which I have never since uttered in public or placed pen to papyrus.
Little surfer little one
Made my heart come all undone
O! That you would love me, surfer girl
In my chariot I would take you everywhere I go
So I say from me to you
I will make your dreams come true
O! How I love you surfer girl
Surfer girl, my little surfer girl