" For example, of the materialism and penchant for "conspicuous consumption" among Romans of the time, Juvenal observes:
in Rome we must toe the line of fashion, spending beyond our means, and often non-borrowed credit.
It's a universal failing: here we all live in pretentious poverty. To cut a long story short, there's a price-tag on everything in Rome. What does it cost to greet Cossus, or extract one tight-lipped nod from Veiento the honors-broker? (180-5).
Criticizing the inflated costs of everything in Rome, Juvenal also states:
inflation swells the rent of your miserable flat, inflation hits the keep of your hungry slaves, your own humble dinner. (166-7)
Moreover, within the declining Roman society described by Juvenal's Third Satire, wealth is so revered for its own sake that, when, for instance, a rich man's house burns to the ground, his house and all his belongings will soon be replaced by better than what he had before (giving rise, in Juvenal's mind, to the idea that the rich man may have set the fire himself) (212-22). In the case of a poor man named Cordus, however, whose home has also just burned to the ground, "no one will give him a roof and shelter, no one will buy him food" (210-11).
According to John Dryden in his "Discourse concerning the Original and progress of Satire (Abridged)" (Lynch 2005), in comparing and contrasting the satirical works of Horace and Juvenal:
wou'd willingly divide the Palm betwixt them; upon the two Heads of Profit and Delight,
Which are the two ends of poetry in general. It must be granted by the Favourers of Juvenal,
That Horace is the more Copious, and Profitable in his Instructions in Humane Life.
But in my particular Opinion... Juvenal is the more delightful Author. I am profited by Both, I am pleased with both; but I owe more to Horace for my Instruction; and more to Juvenal for my pleasure. (7)
In Raillery and Rage: A Study of Eighteenth Century Satire (1987), David Nokes observes that Juvenalian satire, is characteristically harsh, pointed, and specific, often to the extent of attacking specific individuals with invective (51-2). Horatian satire, although equally influential during the 18th century, is in essence subtler and gentler, involving "raillery as opposed to railing" (52). The early eighteenth century, known also as the period of Augustan satire (32-98), produced many notable works, among them Pope's mock-epic The Rape of the Lock, and Swift's irony (and invective)-filled essay "A Modest Proposal." In terms of frequent literary references, to the early eighteenth century, as the "Augustan period" in British satire in particular, Nokes states:
the invocation of the 'Augustan parallel' by writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries did not automatically indicate an endorsement of the supposed values of imperial Rome. What it did provide, however, was a universally recognizable system of analogies, a thesaurus of precedents, to be used as yardsticks for measuring the achievements of contemporary society. The well-known episodes of Roman history acquired a quasi- mythic status which allowed them to be used as a kind of literary code or sub-text, providing instant parallels with, and commentaries upon, the state of English politics, literature, and society. (32-3)
Clearly, then, Pope displays the characteristics of an Augustan satirist within The Rape of the Lock, especially in terms of his implicit (and often also not so implicit) critiques of the shallow, materialistic and ephemeral values of the beautiful, vain, and hedonistic Belinda (Wall (1998) 57:
The busy Sylphs surround their darling Care;
These set the head;, and those divide the Hair,
Some fold the Sleeve, whilst others plait the Gown;
And Betty's prais'd for Labours not her own. (145-8)
Pope, also a translator of Homer's Iliad during that time, uses the Homerian epic form of ancient works like Iliad and the Odyssey for his mock-epic, thus causing The Rape of the Lock with its ridiculously trivial subject matter, to hilariously resemble (in form, if not in theme or content) the Iliad itself.
Wall (1998) states: "The Rape of the Lock has a certain timeless, placeless, enchanted quality in the satirical delicacy of its self-sufficient world" (3). Pope's idea for The Rape of the Lock sprang from an estrangement that had come about when two formerly friendly families of his acquaintance, each of them Catholic like himself, grew suddenly estranged from each other after the son of one family playfully cut off a lock of hair of the daughter of the other. Pope, a young man at the time ("He was twenty-four when the first version of the Rape appeared" (11)), wrote The Rape of the Lock as a way of, hopefully, at least "laughing them back together again" (15) (in this he succeeded) and also promoting his own fledgling literary career:
Both the Petres and the Fermors were prominent, wealthy, aristocratic Catholic families, as was John Carlyll and Sir George Brown "Sir Plume" in the poem. Although Pope, as son of a linen draper, occupied a much lower social position than the players in the poem, he still identified with the small, anxious community - and, as he wrote to John Carlyll on March 20, 1716, he believed at this time that social disputes "may be softened, by some degree, by a general well-managed humanity among ourselves." Carlyll thus easily coaxed
Pope to write the little poem that would laugh the parties together again. (15)
In The Rape of the Lock (Wall 1998 53-87), just as Achilles had the benefit of the gods looking over his shoulder right from the start, Belinda, the vapid and insipid female subject of this particular mock-epic, has her "Guardian Sylph" by her side to prolong her "balmy Rest" prior to today's adventure (20), although, on a more down-to-earth note, she also has "Lapdogs" (15). Here, both the tone and the subtle of Pope's mock-epic is reminiscent of Horace's similar juxtaposition, within his Satire 1.5, of the down-to-earth bawdiness of Sarmentus's taunting of Messius, juxtaposed against Messius's elegant response Damrosch et al. 2004-1321).
Moreover, again in an apt Horatian vein, the humor within The Rape of the Lock is indeed strong, at least implicitly speaking, on "Instruction" (Dryden (2005) 12) (especially in terms of Pope's clear condescension toward Belinda's silly and ephemeral values; her expenditures and focus on cosmetics and other 'fripperies," and her vain and shameless primping) and therefore Horatian by Dryden's standards of greater "Instruction" (Dryden (2005) 12) than Juvenal. As Damrosch et al. (2004) explain of Horace in a related respect:
The Satires are... built around a series of oppositions: country vs. city, a simple vs. complicated life, poverty vs. wealth, past vs. present, private vs. public. Central to these oppositions is the Epicurean conception of the aurea mediocritas of golden mean, the desire to avoid extremes in life and to focus on the simple pleasures of the present. Horace prides himself on puncturing pretensions and unreasonable behavior... (1309)
However, it is also delightful in its wit and in its giving of pleasure to the reader: therefore, it is perhaps Juvenalian as well.
Within Pope's mock epic, Belinda languishes in bed one morning, after a night apparently filled with naughty dreams (since she appears to be blushing upon first awakening that morning), and readies herself for an outing for an afternoon of card-playing. Once there, she is victorious in her card playing that day. As she primps and celebrates both her beauty and her (mock-epic) card-playing victory that afternoon, the young Baron (aided and abetted by the servant Clarissa) sneaks up behind her, and with his "engine" (a pair of scissors he has ready) mischievously snips off a lock of Belinda's hair. That, then, is the "Rape" of Belinda's blonde curly lock. In its overall straightforward humorousness, this scene from The Rape of the Lock is (at least in terms of content) Juvenalian, although it is, on the other hand, in terms of intelligence, subtlety, and craft, Horatian. The poem is, as a whole, a seamless and sophisticated blend of these two distinct types of satirical humor, as well as the result of Pope's artistic and personal ambitions, and overall outlook on life, art, and the purposes of art. Despite a strong and apparently widespread dislike of Pope the man by many of his peers during the poet's lifetime (Nokes (1987) 99-102; Wall (1998) 3-12) Byron later called Pope 'the moral poet of all civilisation' (qtd. In Nokes (1987) 99).
Further, as Nokes (1987) suggests, of Pope's influences and the social influences on Pope himself:
Throughout his life Pope was subject to sustained campaigns of vilification by his enemies...
Alongside, and often providing an unacknowledged motive for such faint praise of Pope's poetry, ran a dislike of Pope the man... [but] During the past fifty years we have heard less of the little monster [Pope was slight of stature and physically deformed (Wall (1998) 3-4;
Nokes (1987) 100)]... And more of the master of mock-heroics... As a subtle poet of Allusion, whose satires…