Alexandrian kings The Canon
An Alexandrian crowd collected
to see the sons of Cleopatra,
Caesarion and his little brothers
Alexander and Ptolemy, who for the first
time were brought to the Gymnasium,
there to be crowned as kings
amidst a splendid display of troops.
Alexander they named king
of Armenia, of Media, and of the Parthians.
Ptolemy they named king
of Cilicia, of Syria, and Phoenicia.
Caesarion stood a little in front,
clad in silk the colour of roses,
with a bunch of hyacinths at his breast.
His belt was a double line of sapphires and amethysts,
his sandals were bound with white ribbons
embroidered with rosy pearls.
Him they acclaimed more than the small ones.
Him they named “King of Kings!”
The Alexandrians knew perfectly well
that all this was words and empty pomp.
But the day was warm and exquisite,
the sky clear and blue,
the Gymnasium of Alexandria a triumph of art,
the courtiers’ apparel magnificent,
Caesarion full of grace and beauty
(son of Cleopatra, blood of the Lagidae!)
and the Alexandrians ran to see the show
and grew enthusiastic, and applauded
in Greek, in Egyptian, and some in Hebrew,
bewitched with the beautiful spectacle,
though they knew perfectly well how worthless,
what empty words, were these king-makings.

Translated by George Valassopoulo

(E.M. Forster, Pharos and Pharillon, Hogarth Press, 1923)

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

- Translation by John Cavafy