Category: Latin Literature

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

Felix Dies Natalis, Roma!

Rome turned 2,765 years young today!

birthday cupcake

Not an authentic Roman birthday treat.


But this is: Ovid describes the Parilia, the festival Romans celebrated to mark the founding of their city. There are cows jumping over fires… and quite possibly fratricide.

Interpretation of Catullus 16 at Issue in English Lawsuit

The notorious first (and last) line of Catullus 16, inscribed in a sidewalk near UPENN

The notorious first (and last) line of Catullus 16, inscribed in a sidewalk near UPENN

If you’ve taken LATN101, Catullus 16 needs no further introduction. The vulgar yet clever poem is now part of a high-profile lawsuit:

In London, a poem by the first century B.C. poet Catullus has been the focus for lawyers trying to prove that investment banker Mark Lowe illegally dismissed one of his female employees. Mary Beard, the eminent professor of classics at Cambridge University, discusses the story with host Guy Raz.

Check out the NPR story or Mary Beard’s further comments on the poem.

Horace’s Birthday

Today is the birthday of the Roman poet Horace. We know the exact date from Suetonius’ Life of Horace (tr. J.C. Rolfe):

He was born on the sixth day before the Ides of December in the consulate of Lucius Cotta and Lucius Torquatus [65 BCE].

natus est VI Idus Decembris L. Cotta et L. Torquato consulibus.

Suetonius’ De Poetis also provides us with biographies of Terence, Lucan, Vergil, Tibullus, Persius, Crispus, and Pliny the Younger.

[Tip: Michael Gilleland]

Staypressed theme by Themocracy