Friday 28 July 2023

'It all fits brilliantly'

 This morning's blindfold poetry selection turned out to be this, from the selected poems of Constantin Cavafy

                      In a Township of Asia Minor

The news about the outcome of the sea-battle at Actium
was of course unexpected.
But there's no need for us to draft a new proclamation.
The name's the only thing that has to be changed.
There, in the concluding lines, instead of: "Having freed the Romans
from Octavius, that disaster,
that parody of a Caesar,"
we'll substitute: "Having freed the Romans
from Antony, that disaster,..."
The whole text fits very nicely.

"To the most glorious victor,
matchless in his military ventures,
prodigious in his political operations,
on whose behalf the township ardently wished
for Antony's triumph,..."
here, as we said, the substitution: "for Octavius Caesar's triumph,
regarding it as Zeus' finest gift—
to this mighty protector of the Greeks,
who graciously honors Greek customs,
who is beloved in every Greek domain,
who clearly deserves exalted praise,
and whose exploits should be recorded at length
in the Greek language, in both verse and prose,
in the Greek language, the vehicle of fame,"
et cetera, et cetera. It all fits brilliantly.


  1. Peter Green quotes this poem in his history of the Hellenistic age, Alexander to Actium.

    1. Good for him. What it says could hardly be better expressed.

    2. Actually Green quotes more than one of Cavafy's poems, as expressing the disenchantment of that period.