Young men of Sidon (AD 400) The Canon
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The actor whom they had brought to entertain them
recited, among other things, a few well chosen epigrams.
 
The room opened on to the garden,
and was pervaded with a faint scent of flowers,
which mingled with perfumes
of the five scented Sidonian young men.
 
He read verses of Meleager and Crinagoras and Rhianus.
But when he recited the lines:
This monument covers Aeschylus, son of Euphorion, the Athenian...
(emphasizing, perhaps a little too much
stalwart valour and Marathonian grove)
an eager young man, who was a passionate lover of letters,
sprang up, and exclaimed:
 
Oh! I do not care for these verses
such expressions savour somewhat of faintheartedness.
Let the great poet give I say to his art all his strength,
all his care, and again remember his art
in his adversity, or when his life is ebbing.
This I expect of him and demand;
and that he estrange not from his mind
the fine sense of Tragedy
 
Agamemnon, admirable Prometheus,
the figures of Orestes and Cassandra,
the Seven against Thebes and for the sake
of his memory he mentions only
that in the soldiers ranks
he also fought against Datis and Artaphernes.

Translated by George Valassopoulo

(Poèmes de C.P. Cavafy, Échanges 5, Décembre 1931)

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard