The Vice Battle Between Satires

HaLin’s Note: This is a satire on the two broad styles of Satire writing, with a commonly seen phenomena in today’s world – Vice – as a protagonist. It is an excerpt from a longer piece that unfortunately could not make its way to the blog; being smashed to pieces at the altar of the (self-imposed) word limit.


Horace and Juvenal were kindred souls that happened to be united in their after-life. Though one lived and perished before the other, they found common ground upon which to stand and exchange pleasantries. Both found that they liked mocking the world around them; but while Horace preferred using mild criticism and jolly humour to disrobe societal vices, Juvenal exhibited a predilection for using scathing wry wit, irony, to clothe dark humour.

On inspecting the state of affairs in the 21st century, both felt a trifle overwhelmed. From their vantage points, they could sense dark clouds on the temporal horizon. Armies of Vices – Depravity, Immorality, Venality, Profligacy, Sloth, amongst others – seemed to be lining for a grand(er) assault. They realised that the 21st century offered a wide and growing menu of vices that cried out for attention. This was fertile battleground in which to showcase their talents to the fullest. Both sensed a tinge of regret; that of being dead.

Fissures appeared between these veteran Generals, soon after. Their disagreement centred around the means for battle. Juvenal was insistent that these vast and hardened enemy armies needed his hitting and impactful counterinsurgency tactics. Horace, in his signature mild manner, felt these armies could be levelled with his mode of jolly mockery.

The two greats had gathered to take on a common enemy, but had ended up arguing amongst themselves. Both decided to keep Vices in the back-burner for the moment, but decided to use them in some form. The disagreement would be elevated to its rightful next step, a Battle. Words, of course, would remain the sole means of warfare.

Time seemed to stand still and the vast armies of Vices awaited with bated breath. They were about to be eulogized by two of the foremost Satirists in history.

The Virtues were cross as they went uninvited. Nobody seemed to want either Faith or Hope, and no one was in the mood for Charity.

Horace, in his mild manner, looked upon Vices with a mischievous but friendly gaze. ‘What would life be without them!’ he began. The illuminating self-realisation of humans’ inventive abilities was possible only due to the Vices. Contentment with the milieu would never have pushed humans to discover a horde of useful (and useless) paraphernalia. Horace particularly liked the history of humans’ love affair with machines of battle. From the archaic longbow to nuclear arsenal; none of these innovative ways of exterminating a race would have been possible without another vice, Distrust and Conceit.

The altered dynamics of city dwelling, thanks to advances in civilisation, could never have triggered a vast array of exotic diseases, many terminal, without the vice of Desire. This very development, termed urbanisation, also contributed to the development of hitherto unknown subjects like Economic Geography. A growing list of academics would never have made a life and some Paper money, but for all these wondrous events being brought to fruition by Vices.

Humans’ penchant for communal living, societal jousting and long hours at work, thanks to Vices, also created an entire profession of psychologists and psychiatrists. In the days of farming yore and barter system, stress was unheard of. Psychiatrists were not needed at all. This group would have never have given birth to famous personalities but for Vices.

Juvenal cut in and accused Horace of abusing another vice, Self-gloating, for his personal benefit. He requested an opporunity for a strike. Horace grudgingly made way.

Juvenal noted that the Vices were inveterate conquerors. Through years of fine tuning they had becomes Masters of regenerative degeneracy. When Virtues congregated, the Vices arrived for an uninvited supper. It so happened that the ensuing melee generally resulted in a rampaging victory for the latter. Vices recognised, through astute observation, that humans had demonstrated a strong aptitude for falling prey to Vice‘s many forms. Foremost among them were Desire and Possession.

The Generals were so effective in drawing out humans from one state of vice, Sloth, to another that they were afforded a special place in the annals of the Vices. Beginning with the history of the monetary system, humans transformed from a state of reasonable discontentment to a state of unreasonable contentment. When the Metal Monetary Standard of economic organisation proved to be a limiting force in satisfying humans’ exponentially rising desires, they readily abandoned it and adopted a Paper Currency system. It amused him greatly that humans, supposedly rational species, could fall prey to attaching so much importance to Paper money. A unit of paper lost value through time. The only way an illusion of prosperity could be maintained was by increasing volume (accumulating more paper). Desire and Possession were indeed connoisseurs in the art of persuading humans, who duly obliged by forsaking their basic capacities to reason.

As Desire and Possession gloated, their rickety underling Greed, in a signature display of personality, muscled his way ahead of his superiors, to assume credit. Greed felt shortchanged at not being given his due. He was never mentioned, not even once, in the eulogy to the Vices.

It was now Horace’s turn at accusing Juvenal of taking unfair advantage. Horace intoned Conceit, which Juvenal parried with a charge of Jealousy.

The Satirists battled.

Vices had won.


7 thoughts on “The Vice Battle Between Satires

    1. The bank note would rank highly, followed by the iPhone (and other i’s, and many gadgets too). For entirely non-spiritual reasons, money is a commodity of essentially no value.

  1. I felt self-conscious when I started reading this post assuming (grandly) that one of the styles you were commenting on was mine (which one I don’t know). But then I waded thru the rest and got wiser!!

    Vices won is really the final word. Under all situations. Irrespective of the duellists.

    1. You have a delightful Horatian style! Akin to Scott Adams’. As for me, I alternate between the two (if you read the old posts, you might discover some in the Horatian form and others in Juvenalian).

      It is generally a function of the subject that I’m trying to poke fun of and the extent of folly available! 🙂

  2. Titus Petronius Niger known as Arbiter. It is not known when he was born, but he died in 66 AD. The details of much of his life are unknown, but we learn that he was consul suffectus in 62 AD, ‘proconsul of Bithynia’ – the implication of this is that he had had a successful career as a politician, had reached senatorial rank and was probably well born and wealthy. he became the Emperor Nero’s arbiter elegantiarum or ‘adviser on good taste’. However in 66 AD he was implicated in a plot against the Emperor and, in a scenario in the best possible taste, committed suicide. It is said that he wrote a document denouncing his master’s vices and accomplices, but this is not the work we have today. His book The Satyricon or collection of satirical material is a ‘picaresque novel’ written in the form known as Menippean satire, i.e. a mixture of verse and prose. The subject matter is difficult to define because we have relatively little of the original 15 books, but it is suggested that it resembles the Odyssey in that the disreputable heroes find themselves on a long journey as a result of having offended the god Priapus.

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