The Battle of Magnesia The Canon
The ardour of old days, the intrepid confidence, are spent.
His body worn with labour, wearied almost to the extent
of sickness, shall from this time forward have his constant care.
And through this latter period of existence he will fare
without concern for other things. So Philip means at least.
To-night he plays at dice; he wants amusement. Strew the feast
with a profusion of the rose. What though Antiochus
has been confounded at Magnesia?... The calamitous
reports of ruin of all the vast and splendid armament
sound hardly like bare fact; perhaps they magnify the event.
So be it! For though an enemy, there is the bond of race.
Still, one “so be it” suffices — may, in truth, be liberal grace.
Certainly Philip does not for a moment meditate
the putting off of the festivities. However great
the strain inflicted in the past on his abilities,
one good is left him — a clear memory is always his:
and he remembers now, as clearly as he noticed then,
the mockery of their so-called sorrowing in Syria when
their mother Macedonia was abased among the nations. —
Begin the feast at once. Ho, slaves; the flutes, the illuminations.

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