The Funeral of Sarpedon The Canon
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Zeus mourns deeply:
Patroklos has killed Sarpedon.
Now Patroklos and the Achaians rush forward
to snatch up the body, to dishonor it.
 
But Zeus does not tolerate that at all.
Though he let his favorite child be killed
this the Law required
he will at least honor him after death.
So he now sends Apollo down to the plain
with instructions about how the body should be tended.
 
Apollo reverently raises the heros body
and carries it in sorrow to the river.
He washes the dust and blood away,
heals its terrible wounds so no trace is left,
pours perfume of ambrosia over it,
and dresses it in radiant Olympian robes.
He bleaches the skin, and with a pearl comb
combs out the jet black hair.
He spreads and arranges the beautiful limbs.
 
Now he looks like a young king, a royal charioteer
twenty-five or twenty-six years old
resting himself after winning
the prize in a famous race,
his chariot all gold and his horses the fastest.
 
Having finished his task this way,
Apollo calls for the two brothers,
Sleep and Death, and orders them
to take the body to Lykia, the rich country.
 
So the two brothers, Sleep and Death,
set off on foot toward the rich country, Lykia;
and when they reached the door
of the kings palace,
they handed over the honored body
and then returned to their other labors and concerns.
 
And once the body was received in the palace
the sad burial began, with processions and honors and dirges,
with many libations from sacred vessels,
with all pomp and circumstance.
Then skilled workers from the city
and celebrated craftsmen in stone
came to make the tombstone and the tomb.

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