Today King Charles III is crowned in Westminster Abbey, London, as monarch of the United Kingdom and fourteen nations of the Commonwealth. Every British/English coronation of the last millennium has been marked by congratulatory Latin verses, whether formally commissioned by the state or informally proffered by subjects. To keep that custom alive in an age that struggles to understand, let alone accept tradition, and to give proper continuation to our poems marking the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II last year, six Antigone writers offer below a medley of our own poetic salutations and felicitations, in hexameter, elegiac, archilochean and sapphic verse.
CARMEN BUCOLICUM AD ILLUSTRISSIMUM REGEM NOSTRUM CAROLUM CORONANDUM
A bucolic poem to our Most Illustrious King Charles on his Coronation
Vere novo nitidis decorantur floribus arva,
Iucundi Zephyri delectat suavior aura
Veloces volucres armentaque laeta per agros;
Ad regem, dum rus hilarat terramque relinquit
Tristis hiems, Romae datur aequum aurata corona.
Credidimus regem semper praeponere campos
Acceptos urbi metuendae et moenibus altis;
Rura colit, curat pastores arvaque amoena;
Ornus eum necnon umbrosa cacumina fagi
Laetificant; ergo petat agros, urbe relicta,
Ut fidi praestemus ei meliora tributa:
Sceptra saligna gregum, pastorum et florida serta.
As spring comes, the fields bloom with luxuriant blossoms, the delightful west wind cheers the swift birds and the herds content in their folds; to our serene king, while the countryside rejoices and gloomy winter quits the land, in Rome a golden crown is given. We are sure that the king always prefers the delightful fields to the fearful city and its towering walls; he cherishes the countryside, he cares for the shepherds and the pleasing pastures; the ash and the shady tops of the beech make him rejoice; therefore, may he forsake the city and seek the rustic meadows, where we faithfully will give him better gifts: a willow sceptre over the flocks, and the flowery crown of the shepherds.
LONG LIVE CHARLES!
Pristina maiestas solium concessit, at omnes
lamenta deponant sua: laetior ecce dies
advolat apportatque virum, quem magna superbis
Britannicorum pectora laudibus excipient.
hic est noster Atlas, hominum qui pervigil aequa
cervice curas sustinet; hic et Arestorides,
regna tuens melius gemino sua lumine; certe
iam cedet Aeneas pius, iam ferus Aeacides:
dux his maior adest. viden ut modo tempora vittis
tandem coronentur novis, sceptra manu niteant?
protinus exsultat populus, vatumque replentur
dulci sacrorum carmine nunc iuga, nunc siluae.
hinc it Fama volans, veri tutamen, et ipsa
divina felix Anglicae numina continuo
mirantur terrae decus, ac simul Europaei
regale ductores quoque praesidium celebrant.
deficio: tibi permultos, rex magne, per annos
effulta regina, precor, gloria permaneat.
Her Late Majesty has passed on the throne, but let all cease lament: a happier day, see, comes bearing one whom the great hearts of Britons shall receive with lofty praise. This man is our Atlas, who wakefully sustains the cares of men upon his balanced neck; he is our Argus too, watching over his realm better with two eyes. Surely now good Aeneas will yield, now the fierce Achilles: a greater leader than these is present. See how his brow is crowned at last with fresh wreathes, how the sceptre shines in his hand? Forthwith the people rejoice, and already the hills, already the forests are filled with the sweet song of holy bards. Hence Fame goes flying, protectress of truth, while the heavenly powers themselves wonder at the blessed splendour of England, and the leaders of Europe too extol our royal protector. I am failing: great king, may your glory endure for very many years, supported by your queen, I pray.
Nenia matris misera sonantem
filii faustus canor implet urbem,
gaudet et maesto superata nuper
tradidit gestum genetrix per aevum
nobilis sceptrum; teneris ab annis
usque recturus senior piaris
regis, et vultum venerandus unguit
more sollemnem patrio sacerdos,
non palam: testis deus imbuenti
ferre, quo prisci levius feratur
pondus exempli, facili coronam
mente condiscas, data ne Britannis
Still echoing your mother’s dirge,
The streets now ring a lighter strain
To mark her son: your people surge
With joy, so lately bowed with pain.
We see, long held, the Queen transmit
Her sceptre. From your cradle known
As King-to-be, at last you sit
In riper age upon the throne.
The bishop in ancestral rite
Anoints your brow, like kings of old:
The sacred functions, out of sight
With God as witness sole, unfold.
Learn, lest the burden of renown
And ancestry should overweigh,
With placid mind to wear the Crown
And keep the pledge you give today.
Progreditur signis ornatam pompa per urbem
nec mora: rex templo mox diadema geret.
Ecce equites longo praecedunt ordine regem
ut cingunt Silvam fagus et herba Novam.
In medio templi regis sic purpura fulget
carduus ut colles contegit usque ruber.
Cum micat argentum passim gladiique coruscant
fulgida tum lucent sceptra corona faces.
At pariter scopulis albescunt litora Dubris
candida cum solvit per mare vela ratis.
The procession is advancing through the city adorned with standards.
There is no time to waste: in the temple, the king will soon wear the crown.
Here come the horsemen preceding the king in a long line,
as the beech tree and greenery wreathe New Forest.
In the middle of the temple shine the purple garments of the king,
as the red thistle perpetually covers hills.
Silver ornaments glitter everywhere around and the swords vibrate in a gleam,
while the fulgid sceptres, the crown and the torches glow.
But likewise do the coasts of Dover shine with their white cliffs
Veliferae naves volitent ad limina fluctus,
Imbribus aetheriis ne tardent munera venti
Verticibus patriae portantes gaudia nostris
Ad fines caeli et terrarum: sceptra tenentur!
Tempus adest: populo caro lux regia fulget.
Let sail-flying ships flutter to the boundaries of the sea, let not the winds with heavenly rains tarry their offices, bringing joys from the peaks of our country to the limits of the sky and the lands: the sceptres are held! The time is come, upon a beloved people a royal light gleams.
Long may he live!
Vivat, io, faveat populo rex Carolus omnI !
Volsca iuvet sponsum solvere munus erA .
Tertius antiqui rex nominis usque colatuR ,
Et regat imperii – nomine reve – capaX !
Long live King Charles, hurrah!, and may he favour all his people! May the Volscian Queen [Camilla] help her husband discharge his duty. May the third king of an ancient name be constantly revered, and may he reign as someone “capable of ruling” – whether nominally or actually.
Long live the King!
Bijan Omrani is an Honorary Associate Research Fellow at the University of Exeter. His books include Afghanistan: A Companion and Guide, and Caesar’s Footprints: Journeys to Roman Gaul. He has written for Antigone previously on the Greeks, Afghanistan and Buddha, on Ausonius, and on Julius Caesar’s hybrid warfare.
Max Hardy is a DPhil student in Classics at Trinity College, Oxford.
Anthony Vickers-Collins read Classics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is now a legislative drafter at the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office, the team of government lawyers who specialise in drafting primary legislation. He maintains an interest in Latin and Greek verse composition, and from time to time publishes versions on his blog Permessus.
Althea R.L. Sovani is an MPhil student in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics at Somerville College, Oxford. She is also Academic Director of the Oxford Latinitas project and President of the Oxford Ancient Languages Society. She has written on some of the challenges of learning Latin as an Italian here.
Nicholas Stone studies Law at Harris Manchester College, Oxford.
David Butterfield is a Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Cambridge.