Theodotus The Canon
If you are one of the really chosen few,
give heed to how your prevalence is acquired.
However much you may be glorified;
however much the cities may extol
your feats in Italy and in Thessaly;
however great the honours may have been
that your admirers voted you in Rome;
neither your joy nor triumph shall subsist,
nor will you look upon yourself again
as a superior — how a superior? — man,
after Theodotus has brought to you,
at Alexandria, on a tray blood-stained,
the head of miserable Pompeius.
And do not dwell secure in the belief
that your own life because it is restricted,
and orderly, and dull, cannot comprise
such things spectacular and horrible:
for it may be that even at this hour,
into your neighbour’s well-appointed house,
Theodotus — invisible, immaterial —
comes bringing such another frightful head.

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