Alexandrian Kings The Canon
The Alexandrians came in multitudes
to have a look at Cleopatra’s sons —
Caesarion, Alexander, Ptolemy —
who save Caesarion were children still,
and who all three, shown now for the first time
in the Gymnasium, were to be proclaimed
Kings, amid brilliant military display.
And Alexander — they acclaimed him King
of Media, of Armenia, and of the Parthians;
and Ptolemy — they acclaimed him King
of Syria, of Phoenicia, and of Cilicia.
Caesarion — he stood more in front,
wearing a princely gown of roseate silk,
and on his breast a bunch of hyacinth;
his belt, a double row of amethysts
and sapphires; his shoes, fastened with white ribbons
deftly embroidered with rose-coloured pearls —
him they addressed as greater than the youngsters,
him they addressed and hailed as King of Kings.
The Alexandrians certainly understood
that this was verbiage and showiness:
but then the day was warm, poetical;
the sky, a wondrous piece of lightsome blue;
the Alexandria Gymnasium,
triumphal evidence of what art can do;
the get-up of the courtiers, sumptuous;
Caesarion, distinctly elegant,
distinctly handsome, (son of Cleopatra,
of the blood royal of the Lagidae):
so to the festival, in multitudes,
holiday-loving Alexandrians ran,
and cheered gladly, in Greek and in Egyptian,
and some of them in Hebrew, — one and all
delighted with the glorious spectacle,
although they knew, of course, how little it meant,
what vacuous verbiage these Kingships were.

Translated by John Cavafy

(Poems by C. P. Cavafy. Translated, from the Greek, by J. C. Cavafy. Ikaros, 2003)

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

- Translation by George Valassopoulo