Horace and Covid XIX. An adaptation of Horace’s Ode 3 in Book 1 by Kevin Griffin

A translation/adaptation of Horace’s Ode No III in Book I who would keep his Tongue in his cheek if he ever met the likes of Covid XIX.

In another time, our friend, Horace is slightly anxious about a ferry, (not a cruise ship), that’s heading for Greece with buddy, Virgil, poet also, on board. He calls on all and sundry upstairs, that’s the crowd in Olympus, to give it safe passage. He thought a lot of Virgil, no petty jealousy among poets there.

He invokes a plethora of gods and goddesses, Aphrodite, the Gemini, namely Castor and Pollux, if you don’t mind, and Aeolus, whose portfolio was to keep the winds in check, to lock up all the more unruly ones except Iapyx, (west-north-west-wind), who is going to be very handy on this occasion and blow both the ship and Virgil straight to Greece all in one piece

Then Horace goes off on one of his tangents. He reckons the first man to make a raft was one tough dude. The raft was quite fragile and the lad took it out on the boisterous sea with scant regard for the consequence, he didn’t even have a life jacket. However he did have a breast plate of triple bronze, aes triplex, he calls it, not much good if he was tipped into the Adriatic.

Raging winds meant nothing to this fellow, let them do their worst. No fear at all of rocks or cliffs or monsters. There were a few of those around at that time. This guy was a regular Flying Dutchman.

Horace thinks that whatever idea the Boys Above in Olympus, had to put seas on this planet was a right fiasco if keeping us in isolation was their plan. We are like that. Tell us to do something, like stay at home, put up our feet and take our time, we get this fierce urge to go out. But the Boys Above in Olympus weren’t going to take this lying down no sirree.

Don’t mess with us or we will get you. We might even get you anyway. They are like that. Poor Prometheus was only trying to do us all a favour by stealing a few coals of fire to keep us warm, you would think they wouldn’t miss it or begrudge it to us.
They fixed poor Prome good and proper, chained him to a good-sized rock in the Caucasus and had this vulture eat his liver for lunch every day. Incidentally, it grew back again at night and the vulture had a right time of it. And I thinking those fellows ate only something dead.

Anyhow, the Boys Above ﹘ there were the Gals Above too but didn’t bother much with this aspect of divine duty, having other interests and responsibilities﹘ decided to fix us once and for all and sent, not one virus, but whole cohorts of them. You can read it for yourself, people were dropping like flies. And did we learn a lesson. No way, once we got the all clear, we were back at it again. Look at your man, Daedelus in Crete, thought he could fly, made wings, and actually himself and the young fella, Icarus, actually took off, the impiety of them. The Boys Above sorted them, too.

Somehow, I feel this chap, Horace, if he was around in our time, would tell us to cop ourselves on straightaway or Zeusy, the Head Honcho Above, would be hopping thunderbolts off us, if we tried to take a quick spin in a chariot or showed our noses outside our villas. Hopping down to the beach at Cumae or even a quick run to the Thermae, no way, Antonio.


Kevin Griffin is from Kerry and has poems published in many magazines and journals such as TheSHOp, Crannog, Orbis, Salzburg Review, A New Ulster,Survision, Revival, Boyne Berries, Star*Line, etc.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Kevin, I enjoyed the use of the vernacular . It enabled me to see Horace and Virgil reading at Poetry in the Park.

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