Social Distancing, Phoenix-style

Of all bizarre creatures in that imaginary space that is Greco-Roman myth, Phoenix, the fabled, long-lived, cyclically re-born bird that knows how to go out (and come back in) with a bang, has to be one of the most remarkable and mysterious ones.

F. J. Bertuch: Phoenix

The late antique poet Claudian gives a delightful version of the myth in one of his shorter poems (see here for the Latin text and an English translation).

Turns out, the majestic creature was a bit of a recluse, who practised social distancing long before it was cool, and thus managed to avoid the threats of contagious diseases (Claudian. carm. min. 27, transl. M. Platnauer):

haec fortunatus nimium Titanius ales
regna colit solusque plaga defensus iniqua
possidet intactas aegris animalibus oras
saeva nec humani patitur contagia mundi.

This is the kingdom of the blessèd bird of the sun where it dwells in solitude defended by the inhospitable nature of the land and immune from the ills that befall other living creatures; nor does it suffer infection from the world of men.

Good advice at the moment, it seems, for anyone who fancies longevity – and, apparently, a truly spectacular process of rebirth, fire, combustion, ashes, and all that (if we can trust our ancient authorities on that).

About Peter Kruschwitz

Berliner. Classicist. Scatterbrain.
This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Social Distancing, Phoenix-style

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.