Philhellene The Canon
Print
Take care the engravings artistically done.
Expression grave and majestic.
The diadem better rather narrow;
I dont care for those wide ones, the Parthian kind.
The inscription, as usual, in Greek:
nothing excessive, nothing grandiose
the proconsul mustnt get the wrong idea,
he sniffs out everything and reports it back to Rome
but of course it should still do me credit.
Something really choice on the other side:
some lovely discus-thrower lad.
Above all, I urge you, see to it
(Sithaspes, by the god, dont let them forget)
that after the King and the Savior
the engraving should read, in elegant letters, Philhellene.
Now dont start in on me with your quips,
your where are the Greeks? and whats Greek
here, behind the Zágros, beyond Phráata?.
Many, many others, more oriental than ourselves,
write it, and so well write it too.
And after all, dont forget that now and then
sophists come to us from Syria,
and versifiers, and other devotees of puffery.
Hence unhellenised we are not, I rather think.

Translated by Daniel Mendelsohn

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

- Translation by John Cavafy