The Harvest Festival

by Nina

It was a quiet night on Mount Olympus, Bacchus noticed - far too quiet for his liking. So he decided to enliven the hall with a celebration. Summoning Mercurius to serve as his messenger, he sent word throughout Olympus that there was to be a party that evening. Bacchus dubbed it a “harvest festival”, knowing full well that the gods would be too busy stuffing themselves with imported ambrosia and seducing mortals to notice that the harvest was not, in fact, in January. His true motivation lay in the hope that Ceres, goddess of agriculture, would be there, so that perhaps her beautiful daughter Proserpina might be permitted to leave the underworld to join in on the bacchanalia. Even Pluto would loosen up a little, he hoped, and emerge from the depths himself, if only for the evening.

What the god of wine had failed to predict was that Pluto would not be the only creature let loose from the underworld that night. While Vesta bustled about readying the place for celebration and Apollo sat in the corner tuning his lyre, the doors burst open and into the great hall trod two of the most hideous creatures Bacchus had ever seen. Even “trod” was a generous description, Bacchus considered; in reality they staggered, stumbled, and dragged their fleshless legs across the floor until they had reached his throne. They stared up at him with glassy, unseeing eyes, and with a dramatic clearing of the throat, the taller of the two spoke.

“Volo edere cerebrum tuum!”

Bacchus couldn’t help but laugh. “Is that so? You and what army?” he asked.

“Ego sum mortuus ambulans solus. Nec amicum nec socium quaero, quia ego valeo,” said the zombie. He thrust a ragged hand forward in what might have been a fierce slap, had the zombie possessed any strength at all.

Still, Bacchus shuddered at the creature’s touch. He glanced at Mars, who was sharpening his sword in the corner, and felt at ease again.

He cleared his throat. “You do realize that this party is by invitation only? That my father is none other than Iuppiter? That I could have you banished in an instant?”

At last, the smaller of the two spoke. “Me paenitet! Hic mortuus ambulans, Coprophagus, non est amicus meus. Ego mortuus ambulans probus sum. Nomen meum Vivus est, quia esse mortuus ambulans non me delectat,” the zombie declared.

“And what in the world might a “good” zombie be?”

“Qui cerebra edunt improbi sunt. Ego sum mortuus ambulans probus, quia cerebra viri non edo.”

“Sed hic cerebrum viri non est. Cerebrum dei est,” Coprophagus protested, gesturing threateningly at Bacchus’s forehead.

“That’s enough!” Mars shouted, thrusting his spear at the zombie. Suddenly, behind Coprophagus stood not the one timid zombie, but dozens of the merciless creatures, glaring hungrily at the Olympians. Mars sprinted towards them, weapon raised. He fought ferociously, but soon fell, and his assailants surrounded him, prepared to tear him limb from limb.

Suddenly, a light flashed, and the floor shook. Bacchus turned around to see Iuppiter standing over the scene, a second lightning bolt in his hand prepared to follow where the first had struck. The zombies lay motionless on the floor. Mars stood and examined his wounds, Vesta scurried about picking up broken dishes, and Bacchus breathed a sigh of relief. Iuppiter turned to the others, a look of disapproval on his face.

“Never again,” he said, “will that cursed brother of mine be permitted to come here with his cronies.” With that, Pluto was dragged out of the hall and ordered to return to the underworld with his now-unconscious army of zombies. The doors slammed behind him, and an uncomfortable silence fell over the room.

With a shrug, Apollo began to pluck his lyre, and the carousing resumed.

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