Poseidonians Hidden
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                        [We behave like] the Poseidonians in the
                        Tyrrhenian Gulf, who although of Greek
                        origin, became barbarized as Tyrrhenians
                        or Romans and changed their speech and
                        the customs of their ancestors. But they
                        observe one Greek festival even to this
                        day; during this they gather together and
                        call up from memory their ancient names
                        and customs, and then, lamenting loudly
                        to each other and weeping, they go away.
 
                        Athenaios, Deipnosophistai, Book 14, 31A (632)
 
 
The Poseidonians forgot the Greek language
after so many centuries of mingling
with Tyrrhenians, Latins, and other foreigners.
The only thing surviving from their ancestors
was a Greek festival, with beautiful rites,
with lyres and flutes, contests and wreaths.
And it was their habit toward the festival’s end
to tell each other about their ancient customs
and once again to speak Greek names
that only a few of them still recognized.
And so their festival always had a melancholy ending
because they remembered that they too were Greeks,
they too once upon a time were citizens of Magna Graecia;
and how low they’d fallen now, what they’d become,
living and speaking like barbarians,
cut off so disastrously from the Greek way of life.

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