Herodes Atticus The Canon
Oh, the glory of Herodes Atticus!
For Alexander — he of Seleucia,
one of our sophists that we honour most —
being come to Athens to discourse and teach,
finds the town emptied of the folk he seeks,
by reason of Herodes having gone
into the country: — straightway all the youth
followed him there to hear him lecture still.
The sophist Alexander thereupon
addresses an epistle to Herodes,
praying that the Hellenes be sent back.
To which Herodes affably: “I too,
along with the Hellenes, come at once”. —
How many lads in Alexandria now,
in Antioch, or in Berytus, (the rhetors
that Hellenism is training for the morrow),
assembled at the board of choicest feast,
where they converse on sophists and their lore,
or on their own erotic ecstasies, —
how many, straying suddenly in thought
from feast and earnest argument, become
silent. Their fruity wines they leave untouched,
and ponder on the fortune of Herodes: —
which other sophist ever rose so high? —
he wills a thing, he acts, and the Hellenes
(think of it, the Hellenes) follow him, —
not judging, they, not arguing at all,
not choosing now, but simply following.

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