[ 1882 September, 19 ]Letters
[Alexandria] Tuesday 19 September 1882

My dear Costi,
     I am just this moment in receipt of your letters 10th and 11th and hasten to reply to the queries contained therein. I wrote you in extenso on Sunday, and must needs abbreviate this letter for want of time.
     Blunt’s article I read in the Nineteenth Century, kindly lent to me by Mr. Moss, and have also seen Nedim’s account of the bombardment in the Times translated by Roger Bey, who is a perfect scholar in Arabic. I posted you Gentleman’s for September on Sunday and have at last got Stivala to write home for the August and July Nos.
     “Ingenious” is pronounced with a long é = mé.
     I beg your pardon for having misunderstood query about “K” and “X”.
K is pronounced like english K and X is pronounced like “ch” in Christ. i.e. ÷åéñ = cheir (keir) ¯
     I have looked up “Dhulkarnein” in the Koran, and you will find a faithful copy of all there is about him on separate slip herewith.
     Please thank mamma for her kind appreciation of my poems and assure her that Mr. Moss is as kind and good towards me as ever.
     Georgy. I meant Photius’ ¯¯¯
     Yesterday I posted you an Egyptian Gazette with a large drawing by Moss’ friend ¯ George.
     Mrs. Jones is an old woman of about 55 ¯ with grey hairs and a face wrinkled all over. Good, attentive, kind and but for an innate eager curiosity and interminable chit-chat ¯ I could wager my head she will go straight to Heaven. Other lodgers besides ourselves are Gentilli, a Mr. Brewster, a Mr. Collier and two Syrian gentlemen. On the second floor at Mrs. Griffin’s there are lots of Englishmen, amongst which Allchin, Smith, Vivian etc.
     I am pleased to hear grandfather’s satisfaction at my letter. Remember me to him and say I will write by first next opportunity ¯
     An international Commission for the Indemnity question is expected to be appointed within a few weeks ¯ I am following up the matter.
     I thought I had already given you to understand that the Banque Générale was all right. Schutz is now back and at the head of affairs ¯
     Ralli’s house is also in good condition and, to all appearances, has not been broken into. The office however is completely destroyed ¯ as is the whole of that little street leading from the square to the Hotel Abbat.
     Have you received the photo of our Office I sent some time ago? Antoniades’ house on the Canal has not suffered. ¯
     I wait anxiously your criticism on the “Rivers of Babylon” and thank you for your continued genealogical notes.
     The Greek, Roman Catholic, and Protestant cemeteries are all right but I have not yet been able to go out there. I intend to do so when I have time.
     Give my love to all
          and believe me
               Yours in haste
“Dhu´lkarnein” (Koran chap. XVIII)
     “The Jews will ask thee concerning D. Answer, I will rehearse unto an account of him. We made him powerful on earth and we gave him means to accomplish everything he pleased. And he followed his way, until he came to the place where the sun setteth; and he found it to set in a spring of mud; and he found near the same a certain people. And we said, ‘o Dhu´lkarnein, either punish this people, or use gentleness towards them.’
He answered:
     ‘Whosoever of them shall commit injustice, we will surely punish him in this world; after shall he return unto the Lord, and he shall be punished severely. But whosoever believeth and doth that which is right shall receive the most excellent reward.’
     Then he continued his way until he came to the place where the sun riseth, and he found it to rise on certain people unto whom he had not given anything, and he said:
     ‘Verily I am only a man as ye are. It is revealed unto me that your God is one only God. Let him therefore who hopeth to meet his Lord work a righteous work; and let him not make any other partake his worship.’ ”
Note by G. Sale. Dh´ulkarnein means “two-horned”. Critics suppose this to be Alexander the Great or, as they call him, Skander al Rûmi, King of Persia and Greece. Some think this surname (two-horned) was given because he was King of East and West, or else, because he had two horns on his diadem, and two curls of hair like horns on his forehead, or ¯ which is most likely ¯ by reason of his great valour. Several modern writers rather suppose it was occasioned by his being represented in coins and statues with horns as the son of Zeus Ammon ¯
     Some think the prince intended in this part of the Koran, is not Alexander but a King of Yaman, called Assaab Ebn al Râyeesh.
                                                                                     (Transcripsit Johannes Cavafius)
                                                                                     Ad Septembri medio MDCCCLXXXII

From John C. Cavafy
To Constantine Cavafy

Transcribed and edited by Katerina Ghika