O Tempestates! Some Storms in Latin Poetry

From almost as soon as there was Latin literature, Latin poets reveled in providing their readers with spectacular descriptions of storms at sea. They served as metaphors of cosmic and psychological turmoil, as a proving ground for courage, and a symbol of the unphilosophical life.

With Sandy bearing down like on us, now seemed a good time to stay safe and dry with a few poetic descriptions of storms.

Arranged chronologically. (most links to translations, except for Pacuvius)

  • Pacuvius Teucer 350-365 W.
  • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 2.1-21 – how it is pleasant to see others in trouble:
  • Horace, Odes 3.29: The Aegean Storm
  • Vergil, Georgics 1.311-37
  • Vergil, Aeneid 1.81-123 — The Trojans, in sight of their new home in Italy, are driven to Carthage (and trouble).
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.474-572 – Ceyx & the Tempest.
  • Lucan, Pharsalia 5. 560-677 – description of the storm on the Adriatic sea during Caesar’s attempted crossing.
  • Valerius Flaccus. Argonautica 1.574-692 — will the Argonauts be drowned before their adventure has scarcely begun?
  • Silius Italicus, Punica 17. 201-90 — Hannibal, the Anti-Aeneas, sails from Italy to Africa.
  • Statius, Thebaid 1.336-382 — a rare description of a storm on land, symbolizes the internal turmoil of Polyneices on the eve of civil war.
  • Juvenal, Satire 12.1-82 – the merchant Catullus attempts to survive a storm.
  • Aldhelm, Quando profectus fueram / A Storm in Devon

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