Young Men of Sidon (A.D. 400) The Canon
The actor they had brought in to entertain them
also recited a few choice epigrams.
The room opened out on the garden,
and a delicate odor of flowers
mingled with the scent
of the five perfumed young Sidonians.
There were readings from Meleager, Krinagoras, Rhianos.
But when the actor recited
Here lies Aeschylus, the Athenian, son of Euphorion
(stressing maybe more that he should have
his renowned valor and sacred Marathonian grove),
a vivacious young man, mad about literature,
suddenly jumped up and said:
I dont like that quatrain at all.
Sentiments of that kind seem somehow weak.
Give, I say, all your strength to your work,
make it your total concern. And dont forget your work
even in times of trial or when you near your end.
This is what I expect, what I demand of you
and not that you completely dismiss from your mind
the magnificent art of your tragedies
your Agamemnon, your marvelous Prometheus,
your representations of Orestes and Cassandra,
your Seven Against Thebesto set down for your memorial
merely that as an ordinary soldier, one of the herd,
you too fought against Datis and Artaphernis.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by George Valassopoulo