Hit the Ode, Flacc! The Fifth Antigone Competition

It’s an absolute Horace show!

Righty-ho: cometh the April, cometh the contest! Today we’re excited to announce the fifth Antigone competition – and it’s a musical one!

What we would like you to do is to put a famous poem into music. The poem is a Latin ode (that word being the Greek for “song”) by Quintus Horatius Flaccus – that’s “Horace” to his nearest and dearest, and “Wacko Flacco” to the haters. Your task is to perform these beautiful words to some musical accompaniment of your choice. Simple as that.

You can sing them, chant them, recite them, rap them, whatever you fancy. So long as all the words are there, and in the right order, and audible, we will be happy. We’re not going to be pedantic about precise pronunciation of the Latin – just say what you see – but we do hope that, were Horace to listen, he would acknowledge that the lyrics, at least, are from his own stilus.

Classical or contemporary, monastic hymn or maudlin madrigal, Midi earworm or low-fi anti-shanty. Anything goes. Perhaps inspiration may come from the compositions of Horace Keats, or the ivory-tinkling of Horace Silver? Perhaps you want to experiment with Dubstep Horace, or Shoegaze Flaccus? Jazztronica Hozza, or Horrorcore Horry? Tribal Guarachoracio, or even a splash of Flacc metal? Solo aria, gang vocals, barbershop vibes, or perhaps something that falls under the Lyme Regis grime aegis? As we say, anything goes.

Just three restrictions:

We’d like the ode to be performed (i) in full, (ii) to some original music, and (iii) with a video recording either of the performer(s) or of some footage/animation that helps bring the music to life. And if the video’s more than three minutes long, something has gone awry.

Here’s the lyrics, then, from the lovely, timeless Pyrrha ode (1.5):

Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa
perfusus liquidis urget odoribus
   grato, Pyrrha, sub antro?
      cui flavam religas comam

simplex munditiis? heu quotiens fidem
mutatosque deos flebit et aspera
   nigris aequora ventis
     emirabitur insolens

qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea,
qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem
   sperat, nescius aurae
     fallacis. miseri, quibus

intemptata nites. me tabula sacer
votiva paries indicat uvida
   suspendisse potenti
     vestimenta maris deo.[1]

And here’s David West’s fine translation:

What slim youngster drenched in perfumes
is hugging you now, Pyrrha, on a bed of roses
   deep in your lovely cave? For whom
     are you tying up your blonde hair?

You’re so elegant and simple. Many’s the time
he’ll weep at your faithlessness and the changing gods,
   and be amazed at seas
     roughened by black winds,

but now in all innocence he enjoys your golden beauty
and imagines you always available, always loveable,
   not knowing about treacherous breezes—
     I pity poor devils who have no experience of you

and are dazzled by your radiance. As for me,
the tablet on the temple wall announces
   that I have dedicated my dripping clothes
     to the god who rules the sea.

The ode’s metre (for those interested) is the Fifth Asclepiad:[2] two asclepiads, then a pherecratean and then (coming back from the brink) a glyconic! More details here. But, to be clear, and to be honest, it will be possible for you to perform these words to whatever rhythm and melody you think best brings them to life. If you’d like to hear the Latin sung clearly (albeit to an invented melody), perhaps try this, but feel completely free to make the ode your own!

Since this is the April competition, you have the whole of the month to tackle it. The deadline falls at the end of the day on 30 April.

In early May the judges will put their heads together, and lock eyes and ears, so that we can award our two tasty prizes to the most deserving entries:

The winner will take £250.

The runner-up £150.

As usual, all entries that impress us will be hosted on our website until the End Times, or as close to then as proves humanly possible.

Ping your videos (in any format that successfully harnesses 21st-century technology) to competition@antigonejournal.com.

On the presumption that there are no further questions, good luck! And, whatever you do, we trust that, just like The Genius himself, you’ll have fun!


1 If you think it makes more sense in context, and suits your purposes better, we hereby authorise you to change deo, a male god, to deae, a goddess…
2 Yet most folk call it the Fourth, and there’s still a merry band who call it the Third Asclepiad. You couldn’t make it up. But know that we will support you, however you choose to number your Asclepiadic metres.