The Battle of Magnesia The Canon
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He’s lost his old fire, his courage.
Now his tired, almost decrepit body
will be his first concern. And the rest of his life he’ll spend
without worrying. So Philip says, anyway.
Tonight he’s playing a game with dice;
he’s in a mood to amuse himself.
Cover the table with roses. What if Antiochos
was defeated at Magnesia? They say
the bulk of his brilliant army was totally crushed.
Maybe they’re stretching it a bit; it can’t all be true.
Let’s hope so anyway. Because though enemies, they do belong to our race.
But one “let’s hope so” is enough. Perhaps even too much.
Of course Philip won’t put off the festivities.
However much his life has worn him out,
one blessing remains: his memory is still intact.
He recalls the extent of their mourning in Syria, the kind of sorrow they felt,
when Macedonia, their motherland, was smashed to pieces.
Let the banquet begin. Slaves! The music, the lights!

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