Philhellene The Canon
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Make sure the engraving is done skillfully.
The expression serious, majestic.
The diadem preferably somewhat narrow:
I dont like that broad kind the Parthians wear.
The inscription, as usual, in Greek:
nothing excessive, nothing pompous
we dont want the proconsul to take it the wrong way:
hes always nosing things out and reporting back to Rome
but of course giving me due honor.
Something very special on the other side:
some discus-thrower, young, good-looking.
Above all I urge you to see to it
(Sithaspis, for Gods sake dont let them forget)
that after King and Savior,
they engrave Philhellene in elegant characters.
Now dont try to be clever
with your where are the Greeks? and what things Greek
here behind Zagros, out beyond Phraata?
Since so many others more barbarian than ourselves
choose to inscribe it, we will inscribe it too.
And besides, dont forget that sometimes
sophists do come to us from Syria,
and versifiers, and other triflers of that kind.
So we are not, I think, un-Greek.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by John Cavafy

- Translation by Daniel Mendelsohn