Definitely outshining the Olympian brouhaha, today we gathered to celebrate the birthday of hitherto little known Flavius Octavius. We were honoured to have a reading by the eminent historian and raconteur, Peter Scott, who narrated a gripping saga, reflecting his very latest research. An excerpt of that esteemed work by Herr Doctor Professor Scott follows:
“anti-pope” 669 in Oc, France
well known for his bulls, which had many issues
father was an ocarina maker and player
mother, an occultist (also took in laundry)At the time of his papacy there were several antipopes – challengers to the papal authority in Rome – besides Octavius of Oc, there were Sardonicus of Avignon, Herbivorus of Seville and Randy of Burnham on Crouch.
Octavius’ deeds are the stuff of legend.
He is venerated in Oc today as the patron saint of stray cattle. It is said that his bulls often escaped from their enclosure.
On one famous occasion, when a most large and ferocious bull was terrorising the honest citizens of Oc, the saintly Octavius, still in his ceremonial robes, caused his bearers to lower the palanquin in which he was riding. He produced an ocarina from a concealed pocket and, fearlessly facing the raging bull, played an air of such melodic sweetness that the bull became totally incensed. After the merest, most cursory pawing of the earth, it charged the courageous cleric, who turned and fled, His only escape route was down a very narrow alley and Octavius was not a thin, ascetic pope. In fact, he was a substantially built pope (the expression ‘enbonpoint’ comes to mind). However, although he became tightly wedged at the narrowest point of the alley, he continued to play his ocarina. (There is scholarly disagreement concerning whether this was a sign of his courage or the result of all the wind being forced out of his lungs by his confinement.) The bull, his enthusiasm for goring portly popes no wit diminished, pursued Octavius until he too, became wedged. Thanks to a subtle discrepancy in their respective girths, the bull was brought to a halt within snorting distance of the pontiff.
This stalemate was maintained until the pope’s own Corsican Guards were able free each of the wedged, although to do so, they had to wait for the better part of five days until, first the bull, and then the pope had lost sufficient avoirdupois to allow for the careful application of ropes and wedges.
On the eighth of August every year, Oquians re-enact this famous legend with the famous ‘Spectacle du Taureau.’ Be the weather cool or hot, young and old alike don heavily padded suits under clerical robes and parade at noon in the streets, all playing the well-rehearsed ‘Melodie du taureau‘ on their ocarinas. At an unspecified moment a bull is released, and, like the Bulls of Palmplona, it pursues the crowd. But do not be alarmed, gentle listeners, this bull has been so well fattened that it can barely manage a slow, swaying trot.
The same bull makes a second appearance in the town later that evening garnished with Dijon mustard, flavoured with garlic and various ‘herbes de Provence’ and accompanied with Oc’s special edition red wine, ‘Ruelle Entroite du Pape’.
I hope that this little historical excursion has not intruded upon your enjoyment of tonight’s celebration, and that you will be truly edified by the shining example of courage of Pope Flavius Octavius of Oc, who, on this day, 1300 years ago, triumphed in a tight spot.
Now, everyone please exchange the traditional Oquian greeting, Merde des Taureaux!”
Peter Scott, Elora, 8 August, 2008