Antigone journal: ‘COVID-19 and the Classics’ competition

We invite readers to reflect – if you can bear it! – on the Covid-19 pandemic that has transformed the world over these last two years. The challenge is for you to respond to any aspect of the global misery, chaos and surrealism in the style of a Greek or Roman author. You can take any angle you like, poetic or prosaic, passionate or plodding, pessimistic or optimistic melioristic.

How, for instance, would Homer sing of the world’s recent woes? What health advice might Hesiod have to dispense in earnest? What would Cicero harangue the folks of Falkirk Forum about? What tone would Virgil’s Coviad end up striking, if only it had survived? What would Sophocles’ Oedipus say to reassure the Thebans? How would Thucydides or Tacitus critique the political bungling or corporate dilly-dallying of the elect and elite? What would Lucretius make of the waves of public panic? What would Marcus Aurelius or Augustine offer to reassure us? Would Aristotle, Galen or even Pliny the Elder, have an idiosyncratic explanation for what is going on? Would Lucian or Petronius find some absurdity in the misery? And what on earth would emanate in anger from the pens of Persius or Juvenal?

It may be a fragment from a lost work, or it may be a self-contained poem/letter/miscellaneous reflection. It’s entirely up to you to determine how familiar or alien the ancient figure you choose to resurrect finds the year 2022 on which they reflect. Entries are to be submitted in English, alas (although we will by no means stop you from submitting Latin or Greek to accompany it!). More importantly this time round, they should be limited to two paragraphs of text, not exceeding 500 words in total. The winner will best recreate the character, tone and peculiarities of the writer in question.


For further details and how to enter, see here.

Deadline for entries 31 January 2022.