Voice, Perspective, and Context Edmund Keeley
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Criticism of Cavafy’s poetry in Greece has been mostly spared both the virtues and vices promoted by post-World War II criticism in English-speaking countries. The principal virtues¯those of a better understanding and a larger appreciation of individual poems through a close reading of the work itself¯have been insufficiently in evidence until recently. At the same time, the failure of much Anglo-American criticism to give appropriate weight to context¯historical, literary, linguistic, biographical¯and the sometimes excessive American preoccupation with theory are generally not found in Greek criticism of Cavafy. One might argue that in Greece too much weight is still given to matters of literary history and literary definition and too little to what must remain, in my view, the primary function of criticism when it is performed generously: aiding readers to understand a chosen poet’s work and to relish the best of it. But the most sophisticated of Cavafy’s Greek critics have achieved a proper balance, for example, George Seferis in the older generation and Nasos Vayenas in the current generation. A case in point is Vayenas’s 1979 article on irony in Cavafy.1  This, and a subsequent article on the same subject by an equally sophisticated British critic, Roderick Beaton,2 provide an opportunity here not only to review various new and traditional critical approaches to the subtlest of Greek poets in this century but to do so with specific reference to certain assumptions and strategies that have governed my approach in this book. Their work also provides an opportunity to consider, or reconsider in some detail, several of Cavafy’s most important poems.
            Vayenas’s article outlines the attempt of a number of Greek critics to solve what Vayenas calls “the problem” of Cavafy. A major aspect of the problem is seen to be that of finding an appropriate definition¯really a categorization¯of Cavafy’s work, preferably in a single word. Dimaras, the great literary historian of modern Greece, suggested “lyric.” Seferis challenged this, at least for a time, with the term “didactic,” then preferred “dramatic.” Vayenas makes his case for the term “ironic.” Of course no single term is sufficient in itself to describe Cavafy’s work over the course of his career. All four terms are to some degree relevant, depending on the period of Cavafy’s work in question and the character of individual poems, and sometimes all four might be brought to bear on a single poem. An even less fruitful aspect of “the problem” is posed by the questions “‘How could [Cavafy] write poetry when his expressive means were those of prose?’” and “‘How could poetry transmit emotion when its language was not emotive, that is, not poetic?’” (p. 43). Vayenas traces the suggested “solutions” offered by the critics Agras, Nikolareizis, Dallas, and Seferis, but finds each too limited to resolve the mystery of Cavafy’s presumably unpoetic poetic. He concludes that “the problem of his poetry is not beyond solution” (p. 51) if one looks at his use of irony.
            For those interested in exploring the poems themselves with new insight and recognition, these questions seem remote, and the so-called problem remains in the realm of theoretical rather than practical criticism. W.H. Auden provided the key to a different approach in his introduction to the Rae Dalven translation of Cavafy,3 where he offered the phrase “tone of voice” to characterize what was “unique” about Cavafy and where he implicitly indicated the futility of a debate over definitions of the kind presented in Vayenas’s article. Auden states that “a unique tone of voice cannot be described; it can only be imitated, that is to say, either parodied or quoted” (p. ix). And with this remark he leads the reader back to the poetry itself, which is its own definition, requiring no all-encompassing characterization or categorization for those who will give the poems a sensitive reading. Fortunately Vayenas does not limit himself to the hypothetical problem he explores but uses his solution to provide new insight into several of Cavafy’s more complicated¯and often misunderstood¯poems, as we shall see below.
            Auden’s term “tone of voice” is a more helpful guide to the work (even if he himself points to its inadequacy) than any definition he might have attempted, and so is his elaboration of its implications: “Reading any poem of [Cavafy’s] I feel: ‘This reveals a person with a unique perspective on the world’” (p. viii). Voice and perspective are the terms that give us access to a better understanding of Cavafy’s subtleties. Auden’s remarks imply that there is a tone of voice in Cavafy’s poetry, a “personal speech,” that colors the speaking voice in any particular poem, as there is a “perspective on the world” that colors the attitude in any particular poem. The tone of voice and the perspective are strong enough, in Auden’s view, to emerge through any translation: “I have read translations of Cavafy made by many different hands, but every one of them was immediately recognizable as a poem by Cavafy; nobody else could possibly have written it” (p. viii).
            Tone of voice, in this view, is obviously more than a matter of personal style and particular language, since these are mostly lost in translation (one is compelled to add here that Cavafy’s language is special enough to contribute significantly to his tone of voice in Greek, however one interprets the phrase). As I understand Auden’s remarks, what he has in mind is the poet’s particular way of presenting his material and the perspective that emerges from this presentation, and I agree that these add up to a unique “voice” that not only colors individual poems but that implies a certain unified sensibility in his work. Still, Cavafy’s presentation is varied and often complex, and arriving at the perspective that colors individual poems is not as easy or immediate as Auden’s remarks may suggest. It is often an exercise that requires unusual tact and a heightened sensitivity to the poetry’s context. Evidence of the difficulty is the considerable disagreement even among Cavafy’s best critics about the perspective that emerges in specific instances and some disagreement about whether there is what can be called a perspective at all.
            We have seen in chapter 2 that, in developing his mature voice, Cavafy went through a period of experimentation with various modes¯lyric, didactic, narrative, and dramatic among them¯and these modes continued to play their role in shaping the poetry of his mature period. But if we focus on his work from 1910 forward, I think we can now assume general agreement among his recent critics that the starting point in gaining access to his poems is a consideration of the poet’s stance in a given poem¯what an older generation of critics might have called the particular mask the poet chose to wear in specific instances. Even if the poet’s unique tone of voice generally colors his work, there is still inevitably some stance in Cavafy, whether the poet chooses to speak in the first person, act as narrator, address a character in the second person, or take on the role of a character in a dramatic monologue. It is in Cavafy’s narrations and dramatic monologues that the poet’s voice¯that is, the voice behind the mask¯is the most muted, often heard by way of irony alone (as Vayenas suggests), often discernible only by a careful examination of the poem’s tone and context. (I use the term “tone” here in the standard sense of the speaker’s attitude in the poem, sometimes quite at odds with the poet’s attitude and usually distinguished from it by at least the distance that the term “persona” is meant to indicate).
            The difficulty of determining the character of Cavafy’s stance in the first instance, and of his voice and perspective in the second, in some of his more subtle (and usually late) poems is illustrated by the divergent interpretations of “On the Outskirts of Antioch” (1932/33) and “A Great Procession of Priests and Laymen” (1926), the two dramatic monologues that Vayenas discusses at the conclusion of his essay. Both of these belong to the cycle of poems having to do with Julian the Apostate (see above, pp. 120-122).4
            The Julian poems constitute by far the largest group devoted to the same historical character in Cavafy’s work. It is therefore exceedingly difficult to consider any single poem in the cycle outside the context of others in the group; in fact, I would suggest that the critic who does so, and who also doesn’t consider this group in its relation to Cavafy’s late mode and voice in general, proceeds perilously. In any case, the starting point is correctly perceived by Vayenas to be that of determining the stance and tone of the poems. The speaking voice in both poems¯the poet’s mask¯is that of a Christian who represents the Christians of Antioch during Julian’s brief reign, A.D. 361-363, in the one instance shortly before the end of that reign, and in the other shortly after. Seferis’s reading of the two poems implicitly assumes an identity between the poet and his speaker, thus promoting an interpretation that sees the poems as an expression of Cavafy’s total sympathy with the Christians of Antioch and their ridicule of Julian’s pagan pretensions. Vayenas shrewdly challenges this view of Cavafy’s attitude by pointing out that the tone of both poems¯that is, the speaker’s attitude in each¯indicates a “magnitude of... hatred for Julian” inconsistent with the indications of Christian piety in the poems, and this contradiction serves to suggest the “magnitude of the Christians’ hypocrisy,” a hypocrisy that is seen to have its origins in the Antiochians’ “strong distaste for Julian’s ascetic version of the ancient worship, the application of which would result in a code of behavior not unlike that prescribed by Christianity” (p. 54). Vayenas therefore regards Seferis’s assumption in the case of “On the Outskirts of Antioch,” that the poem “is simply an attack against Julian and that Cavafy is on the side of Babylas and the Christians and against the ancients,” as a misinterpretation. In the case of “A Great Procession of Priests and Laymen,” he challenges Seferis’s view that the poem is “an unfavorable comment on Julian” and Seferis’s opinion that the last line of the poem should be declaimed “in the reverent tone appropriate to the prayers of the divine liturgy.” Vayenas asserts that the line should be read in an ironic tone of voice “to call into question the genuineness of the emotion so skillfully created in the preceding lines” (p. 55).
            There is some merit in this reconsideration of Seferis’s position, but it is not a full enough account of either poem’s implications nor a sufficient designation of Cavafy’s perspective. Let us review the poems in turn. The speaker in “On the Outskirts of Antioch” is depicted as being not so much hypocritical as arrogant in his defense of his martyr Babylas (or Vavylas). His attitude toward Julian is too close to what he portrays Julian’s to be in dismissing the martyr. The speaker shows us Julian losing his temper and shouting: “... take him away immediately, this Vavylas. / You there, do you hear? He gets on Apollo’s nerves. / Grab him, raise him at once, / dig him out, take him wherever you want, / take him away, throw him out. This isn’t a joke...” Whether or not the speaker’s rendering of Julian’s tone is accurate, the speaker’s own tone gives him away for being similarly arrogant and intolerant¯if more subtle in his manner of expression¯as he brings his irony to bear in revealing the destruction he and his fellow Christians have wrought in taking their revenge on Julian:
 
            And hasn’t the temple done brilliantly since!
            In no time at all a colossal fire broke out,
            a terrible fire,
            and both the temple and Apollo burned to the ground.
 
            Ashes the idol: dirt to be swept away.
 
            Julian blew up, and he spread it around¯
            what else could he do?¯that we, the Christians,
            had set the fire. Let him say so.
            It hasn’t been proved. Let him say so.
            The essential thing is: he blew up.
           
            The essential thing is that this Christian speaker has cast out Julian’s pagan god¯in spirit if not in fact¯as mercilessly and fanatically as he depicts Julian’s treatment of Vavylas. An eye for an eye; no charity here. And the speaker reveals a rather amusing hangover of paganism in himself when he gives the pagan gods more life and reality than one might think a pious Christian has any business giving them (though the hangover is of course historically accurate):5 “It was [Vavylas] the false god hinted at, him he feared. / As long as he felt him near he didn’t dare / pronounce his oracle: not a murmur. / (The false gods are terrified of our martyrs.)”
              If the speaker condemns himself by showing the same arrogant intolerance of Julian that he has Julian demonstrate toward “this Vavylas,” can the reader trust the image of Julian that the speaker projects? The answer to this seems to me to reside in the poem’s context, both the historical context that it presupposes and whatever relevant knowledge of the poet’s mature voice we can bring to the poem. We know from history that Julian did indeed order the church that the Christians built over Vavylas’s tomb to be demolished and the relic of Vavylas to be removed, and we also know that he was intolerant of those who professed to teach while “harbor[ing] in their souls opinions irreconcilable with the spirit of the state,” namely the spirit of Emperor Julian’s austere paganism.6 Whether or not the speaker catches the exact tone of Julian’s intolerance, he has the substance of it right. And other of Cavafy’s Julian poems would seem to provide the kind of gloss on this one that suggests the poet is sympathetic toward the speaker’s image of the emperor.
             Two earlier poems are particularly relevant in this connection, “Julian Seeing Contempt” (1923) and “Julian and the Antiochians” (1926). Neither is a dramatic monologue; in both the poet enters the poem through a persona who comments on the historical moment that the poem dramatizes, as close as Cavafy comes to making a direct statement in his mature work. In the first, the persona mocks Julian for attempting to incite and goad his “friends,” among whom Julian finds great contempt for the gods, friends who “weren’t Christians” but who also weren’t ready to go so far as to “play”¯as Julian ironically could, having been brought up a Christian¯with a new religious system that the persona calls “ludicrous in theory and application.” Julian’s friends were Greeks, after all, guided still¯the persona implies¯by the ancient maxim that the persona quotes in concluding the poem: “Nothing in excess, Augustus.”
              This image of Julian as a man given at times to ludicrous excess is not out of keeping with the Julian who loses his temper in casting out the martyr Vavylas. Nor is the image of Julian that we find in “Julian and the Antiochians,” where the persona contrasts Julian’s “hot air about the false gods, / his boring self-advertisement, / his childish fear of the theater, / his graceless prudery, his ridiculous beard” with the notorious, immoral, quite unChristian but nevertheless “beautiful” and “delectable” way of life of Christian Antiochians, which “consummated a union between Art / and the erotic proclivities of the flesh” and which was always in “absolute good taste.” The persona asks rhetorically whether it could ever have been possible for the Antiochians to give up the latter out of an allegiance to the former. He concludes that of course they preferred the more tolerant, less puritanical regime of Apostate Julian’s Christian predecessors.
             The theme of excess and the intolerance it engenders is what links these two poems to the later “On the Outskirts of Antioch” and what helps to clarify the poet’s perspective in the later poem. Both the Christian speaker in the poem and “unholy” Julian demonstrate a like propensity for excess; both are given to fanaticism and intolerance toward those with opposing beliefs. Cavafy’s perspective emerges from the interplay between the juxtaposed representations of excess in the poem. In this instance he sides with neither the Christian speaker nor the pagan emperor; his perspective, most aptly characterized by the maxim “Nothing in excess,” transcends both.
            This conclusion challenges not only Vayenas’s view of Cavafy’s perspective in both poems but also my own too-hasty generalization (p. 121 above) regarding those Julian poems that are dramatic monologues (as distinct from those that one might call “persona” lyrics or narrations). I say that “the tone of each makes it clear that the poet sides with the Christian speaker.” Not so; the tone of each monologue defines the speaker’s attitude, not the poet’s, and it is clear from our discussion here that the poet’s perspective can be said to be a degree ironic toward both the Christian speaker and the object of the speaker’s sarcasm, in effect siding with neither and subtly satirizing both for their intolerant excess. And that is often the case both in this historical context and elsewhere. Even in the poem “Julian and the Antiochians,” where the persona’s irony is overtly at Julian’s expense, we have that passing note on the Christians’ excess: “Immoral to a degree¯and probably more than a degree¯they certainly were...”¯an ominous note if one is aware of the close relation between the Christian way of life depicted in this poem and that of Cavafy’s ancient Alexandrians, especially those commemorated in several of the “epitaphs” he wrote between 1914 and 1918, where we have seen (p. 86 above) that the union between elegance, beauty, youth, art, and the erotic proclivities of the flesh is shown to have its dark side: “I, Iasis, lie here¯famous for my good looks / in this great city... / excess wore me out, killed me. Traveler, / if you’re an Alexandrian, you won’t blame me. / You know the pace of our life¯its fever, its absolute devotion to pleasure” (from “Tomb of Iasis”).
             Joseph Brodsky tells us in his generally illuminating essay-review on Cavafy that the poet “did not choose between paganism and Christianity but was swinging between them like a pendulum.”7 One might modify the metaphor by suggesting that it is the speaking voice that does the swinging; Cavafy’s perspective is what holds the pendulum in place, aloof from the action, not taking sides except when arrogance, fanaticism, intolerance, hubris, or other excess earns his irony. Brodsky points out that Cavafy’s “most vigorous ironies were directed against one of the main vices of Christianity¯pious intolerance.” We have seen that Julian is also shown to have had his moments of pious intolerance, but in “A Great Procession of Priests and Laymen,” it is the Christian vice that sets the poem’s tone, as Vayenas suggests in challenging Seferis’s reading of the poem (though Vayenas does not indicate exactly what it is in the text that promotes his own “ironic” reading of the poem). The speaker here is kin to the Christian speaker in “On the Outskirts of Antioch.” He may not express himself with the same degree of sarcasm, but he is equally intolerant in his view of Julian, calling him “unholy” (ìéáñüôáôïò) and “appalling” (áðïôñüðáéïò). More to the point, he mocks Julian’s pagan followers, “lately so full of arrogance,” for slinking away from the Christian procession, and sees it as good riddance “as long as they don’t renounce their errors.” In the Cavafian context, this kind of language and this attitude clearly set the stage for a fall from grace. “Pious” self-satisfaction and arrogant disdain carry in them the seeds of their own destruction; if the “arrogant” pagans have had their day, one can expect that the infallible (“as long as they don’t renounce their errors”) and self-satisfied Christians will have theirs too.
            It is this typically Cavafian perspective¯which, incidentally, Seferis was the first to identify, at least implicitly, in his commentary on “Alexander Jannaios and Alexandra” (see fn.10 to chapter 6)¯that most compels an ironic reading of the poem’s concluding line. And the irony is not only a matter of tone. (The hypocrisy behind the Christians’ “piety” that Vayenas sees as the determinant of the line’s tone¯his use of the term really designating the poet’s rather than the speaker’s attitude¯is not as clearly represented in this poem as it is in “On the Outskirts of Antioch,” though it is part of the Cavafian context that one can legitimately bring to the poem). The dominant irony at the end of the poem is what we traditionally call dramatic irony. The speaker sees “the empire delivered at last” because “appalling Julian” has been replaced by “most pious Jovian,” who is now to be the object of Christian prayers. What the speaker does not know¯while the reader presumably does¯is that pious, tolerant, and relatively ineffectual Jovian will reign for only seven months (until February, A.D. 364), Christianity will triumph but will also be marked by constant strife and contention, the empire will soon divide permanently under Valentinian in the West and Valens in the East, and within less than a century, the Western empire will have fallen irretrievably.
            The irony here is underlined in Cavafian terms by a passage in Gibbon, one of Cavafy’s principal historical sources, as he meditates on the death of Valentinian the Third in A.D. 455 and the doom of Rome: “...even his religion was questionable; and though he never deviated into the paths of heresy, he scandalized the pious Christians by his attachment to the profane arts of magic and divination... The severe inquisition, which confiscated their goods and tortured their persons, compelled the subjects of Valentinian to prefer the more simple tyranny of the Barbarians... If all the Barbarian conquerors had been annihilated in the same hour, their total destruction would not have restored the empire of the West; and, if Rome still survived, she survived the loss of freedom, of virtue, and of honour.”8
              The historical context of which the speaker is unaware, source of the poem’s dramatic irony, is what Seferis would call the missing statue on Cavafy’s pedestal. As we have seen in the discussion of several of Cavafy’s subtlest late poems in chapter 6¯“Alexander Jannaios and Alexandra” and “In the Year 200 B.C.” in particular¯it is events that follow on the speaker’s heels which provide the poem’s final comment, outside the range of the speaker’s voice and perception, the kind of silent comment that raises the poet’s perspective above the speaker’s particular bias to the level of the poet-historian who sees a more universal¯and generally tragic¯pattern behind even those moments of history with which he has shown some degree of sympathetic identification. As is suggested in chapter 6, the poet’s perspective may be seen as a usually unspoken conscience that recognizes any individual success and any specific historical change as subject to reversal by the gods, that sometimes serves to warn against those excesses that lead to fanaticism, intolerance, or self-satisfied complacency, and that sometimes finds wisdom and courage to reside in a recognition of human limitations.
             It is this perspective that seems to me to be a fundamental aspect of Cavafy’s mature voice, an aspect of the “unique perspective on the world” that Auden saw stamped on every Cavafy poem, even in translation. One might find other terms in which to express the perspective as it relates to individual poems, and one might find its presence more or less overt, but an awareness of its role is often valuable¯and sometimes essential¯in establishing the force and meaning of Cavafy’s more complex poems. It is not enough, in my opinion, to see Cavafy as simply an ironist, though he surely is that at times. And in any case, one has to be sensitive to the context, the pattern of thought and sensibility, within which his irony operates if one is to understand its full implications.
            Roderick Beaton appears, in his provocative article, to be somewhat out of sympathy with this position. Following the lead given by Vayenas, Beaton argues, persuasively at times, that Cavafy was “a fully conscious ironist” and that the emotional impact of his poems derives “not from sensuousness of the language, nor from the intensity of a ‘vision’... but from the vivid juxtaposition of contradictory emotions, of things seen from contradictory angles, of contradictory ‘visions’” (p. 518). This is not a “structuralist” position (though that school of criticism is invoked at one point) which might find meanings in the text¯literal, ironic, otherwise¯that the poet did not necessarily intend but that are there to be discovered nevertheless in its structure; Beaton is concerned with identifying ironies and contradictory “visions” that Cavafy fully intended, as a “fully conscious ironist” would presumably have to. He goes on to tell us that irony “is all-pervasive in Cavafy’s poetry and nothing in his poetic world is sacred...” He finds that Cavafy created “a world of shifting relativities” (p. 519) and that he used irony “not to debunk certain attitudes and characters, nor in support of convictions or a world-view of his own, but in order to create an autonomous dramatic world,” one that “in its paradoxes and its relativities, in the richness and at the same time hollowness of its appearances, and in its refusal of any ultimate, profound truth,” is a powerful metaphor for “the outside world as it has often been perceived in the twentieth century” (pp. 527-528).
             It is hard to take issue with this position without seeming to be insensitive to the poet’s complex ironies, or pretentiously in search of large profundities, or even¯to quote Beaton’s view of my approach in this book¯given to “impos[ing] on Cavafy’s work a structure and world-view which do not always emerge naturally from [Cavafy’s] texts” (p. 517). The term “world-view” is a grand one that I have always found suspiciously vague, but if it implies what Auden calls Cavafy’s “perspective on the world,” then I would have to acknowledge¯in keeping with what I have already indicated¯that I do indeed believe there is a perspective of that kind in his work. And if the term “structure” implies that there is an interrelation between Cavafy’s poems in mode and attitude, and that a pattern of images and attitudes emerges from this interrelation¯what I have here called the voice and perspective of his poetry¯then I admit to that position as well (though of course I cannot agree that these do not emerge naturally from his texts without proposing a non sequitur). The danger of seeing Cavafy’s world as one characterized entirely by shifting relativities in which the poet’s irony is never used “to support his own convictions” is that the critic has little solid basis for determining the object of the poet’s irony in specific instances. Without a firm foundation in perspective and context, one begins to see irony everywhere, hear it everywhere, find one’s sense of the poet’s irony undercut by another irony, and that by the irony of this undercutting. In short, it becomes difficult to establish exactly when the poet intends irony and exactly what he intends to be ironic about.
             In actual practice, Beaton’s relativist position is qualified by what he himself calls “the context of Cavafy’s work,” and this leads to some perceptive and helpful criticism of individual poems based on a proper sensitivity to dramatic form, tone, and historical background¯as in his subtle reading of “Dangerous Things.” But some of his readings seem to me too clever by half, and their identification of levels of irony is occasionally misleading. His interpretation of “Ionic,” for example, draws heavily on the context of Cavafy’s work for its substantiation but is finally overwhelmed by ironies that do not, in my opinion, emerge naturally from the text of the poem and that in any case serve to diminish its intended impact on the reader. Context is first invoked to “undermine the literal reading” of the poem by emphasizing that the speaking voice, the poem’s “we,” has “an actual concrete existence in a specific historical period,” and “as always in a poem by Cavafy,” this suggests a distancing that allows us to view the speaker with some detachment, even irony.9 Beaton then invokes the context of Cavafy’s poetry in terms of mode by pointing to the role of apostrophe in his work and, in this particular poem, the use of a convention that the poet “does not normally use.” Finally, he brings to bear two attitudes that are part of the Cavafian perspective¯“Cavafy had no time for romanticism” and he “was perversely unaffected by the beauties of nature”¯to help the reader determine how he is to read the poem’s concluding image.
            This use of context raises an impertinent question: if the critic were to say that Cavafy’s aptitude for using history to achieve an ironic distancing, his occasional manipulation of lyrical excess (as in the case of the apostrophe mentioned here), his anti-romanticism, and his indifference to nature are all part of the structure, the pattern of modes, attitudes, and even convictions, that constitute the poet’s mature voice and perspective, would the critic be courting censure for imposing too much structure on Cavafy’s autonomous, relativist dramatic world, as Beaton suggests I do in this book? Presumably not, because without an awareness of these attitudes and convictions, of the context they create, the critic cannot hope to make his way through Cavafy’s world, with its instant possibilities of irony, and find a just reading of individual poems.
            My own reading of “Ionic” is not entirely congruent with Beaton’s, because the context I bring to the poem promotes less irony and more legitimate lyricism than he discovers, and I find a different emphasis in the poem’s tone and syntax. I would agree for a start that to read “Ionic” simply “as a nostalgic evocation of the pagan past of Hellenism and assertion of its essential continuity” may be “quite satisfactory” but is hardly a sufficient account of the poem’s subtleties or of its vitality. (I take it to be one of the most striking and beautiful of Cavafy’s relatively early poems; a first version was published in 1896, the poem was rewritten in 1905 and published again in 1911.)10 Yet, to see a central irony in the poem emerging from the presumed contradiction between “the austere piety which motivated the destruction of the [pagan] temples” and “the slightly naughty ethereal vision of the poem’s last three lines” is to restrict and to distort the poem’s implications. Let me first offer a version of the full poem:
 
            That we’ve broken their statues,
            that we’ve driven them out of their temples,
            doesn’t mean at all that the gods are dead.
            O land of Ionia, they’re still in love with you,
            their souls still keep your memory.
            When an August dawn wakes over you,
            your atmosphere is potent with their life,
            and sometimes a young ethereal figure,
            indistinct, in rapid flight,
            wings across your hills.
           
            In arriving at his ironic reading, Beaton indicates an intended contrast between “the speaker’s lyricism and manifest love of beauty in the present” and “his own complicity in the pious destruction of beauty in the past.” Since the speaker “nowhere refers to a change of heart,” he remains “unaware of the contradiction between the attitudes he expresses,” and “the irony of this poem is that the lyrical nostalgia for pagan Hellenism is put into the mouth of one of the very people who helped to destroy it.” This presumably “undermines the lyricism of the poem and the speaker’s claim to admire beauty or the Greek past.”
            This interpretation strikes me as more than too clever by half. It is true that by using the plural “we” the speaker identifies himself at the start as a Christian who by implication¯and implication alone¯shares in the responsibility for breaking the pagan statues and driving the pagan gods from their temples, but it is not his supposed complicity in “austere piety” that this identification underlines, presumably in order to establish a contradiction between this and other “attitudes he expresses.” “Austere piety” is in any case not among the attitudes he expresses, nor is it dramatized in the poem. One could in fact argue that the speaker’s use of the strong terms “óðÜóáìå” (broke or broke down) and “äéþîáìåí” (threw out) to describe the Christians’ deed actually implies some distance between his attitude and that of his perhaps austerely pious but certainly intolerantly destructive fellow Christians. Neither does the speaker express a “shallow and sentimental” nostalgia for “the artistic beauty” associated with pagan Hellenism, as Beaton has it, nor does he “claim to admire beauty or the Greek past”¯and since he does not express these various attitudes, he cannot logically “refer to a change of heart” or be the object of the poet’s irony for being unaware of the contradiction between them.
            What the speaker does express is his view that, for all the Christians’ attempt to get rid of the pagan gods by destroying their statues and driving them out of their temples, the gods are not dead. The implication is that the destruction of statues and temples is not enough to do in the gods because their vision, their ardor¯the “óöñßãïò” of their life¯11 is focused and housed elsewhere. With some lyrical fervor the speaker goes on to say “O land of Ionia, you they love still, / you their souls remember still”; that is the emphasis of the Greek syntax: “Ù ãç ôçò Iùíßáò, óÝíá áãáðïýí áêüìç / óÝíá ç øõ÷Ýò ôùí åíèõìïýíôáé áêüìç” (emphasis mine). In fact, the gods still love and remember Ionia in their souls so ardently that on an August morning one can still feel the youthful exuberance of their life (existence) passing through the air and sometimes actually see the young ethereal figure of a god, indistinct and with hurried pace, crossing above the Ionian hills. The lyricism of the poem does not so much celebrate the speaker’s love of beauty or the Greek past as¯in keeping with the poem’s title¯it celebrates the land of Ionia, still home for the souls of the gods who cannot forsake their love of it nor forget what it represents for them.
             This celebrative purpose might even excuse the speaker’s unusual use of the apostrophe “O land of Ionia.” In any case, it is not a “romantic landscape” that Ionia represents but a sensual one. When dawn breaks, what appears is not the beauty of nature but a god in the shape of an ephebe (åöçâéêÞ ìïñöÞ). And if there is irony in the poem, it is a rather mild kind, consistent with a typical Cavafian emphasis; it emerges not from the poet “undermin[ing] the poem’s lyricism” or undermining his unaware speaker, but from his showing us a Christian who has to acknowledge¯even celebrate the fact¯that there is territory presumably beautiful and sensual enough for the gods to haunt whatever destruction Christianity may choose to wreak on it, and that, in this Cavafian context, what is most likely to remain alive to the bitter end in such territory is a god in the unChristian shape of what Beaton translates as “an ethereal boyish form.” Also, if “Morning Sea” is to be seen as a gloss on this poem (pp. 526-527), it is not the poet’s “subvert[ing] the convention of romantic landscape poetry” that is relevant (there is no description of romantic landscape in “Ionic”¯just the mention of dawn breaking) but the poet’s invoking of those “memories, the images (idols) of sensual pleasure” which move in to replace the persona’s momentary contemplation of sea and shore in “Morning Sea.”
             A more revealing gloss on “Ionic” is the poem “Orophernis,” where we find a related bit of rhetoric celebrating Ionia (the poem was written in 1904, a year before “Ionic” was given its second version):12
 
            Oh those exquisite Ionian nights
            when fearlessly, and entirely in a Greek way,
            he came to know sensual pleasure totally.
            In his heart, Asiatic always,
            but in manners and language, a Greek;
            with his turquoise jewelry, his Greek clothes,
            his body perfumed with oil of jasmine,
            he was the most handsome, the most perfect
            of Ionia’s handsome young men.
 
            This pre-Christian image of Orophernis could perhaps serve as a model for the “åöçâéêÞ ìïñöÞ” (ephebic form) of “Ionic.” In any case, it carries connotations that suggest why¯again in the Cavafian context¯the gods might indeed still haunt the Ionian landscape after the Christian destruction and why one of Them (shades of “One of Their Gods”) might appear on an August morning and pass before a Christian with at least enough of Cavafy’s hedonistic bias in him to know one of the reasons pagan Greek Ionia was¯and to some degree still is¯worthy of celebration.
            In his discussion of another poem that presumably lends itself to an ironic reading, “Epitaph of Antiochos, King of Kommagini” (1923), Beaton shrewdly points to the crucial ninth line, the center of the poem, and analyzes its implications with some tact: for a Greek sophist from Ephesus, center of the Greek world in Asia Minor, to have to consult Syrian courtiers before writing an epitaph on one Antiochus of the small Asia Minor principality of Kommagini seems an odd circumstance, one that could point to the possibility of irony. Cavafy’s use of the unusual term “Eëëçíéêüò” (which in Modern Greek normally means “Greek” or¯as Beaton puts it¯“pertaining to Greece or Hellenism” and in ancient Greek anything from “Hellenic” and “Greek” to “like the Greeks,” and “pure Greek,” and “pagan”),13 to describe the king’s most precious quality of Hellenism also could be seen to promote an ironic reading. I quote the whole of the Ephesian sophist’s epitaph in the Collected Poems version:
 
            “People of Kommagini, let the glory of Antiochus,
            the noble king, be celebrated as it deserves.
            He was a provident ruler of the country.
            He was just, wise, courageous.
            In addition he was that best of all things, Hellenic¯
            mankind has no quality more precious:
            everything beyond that belongs to the gods.”
           
            Beaton tells us that “the epitaph records a historical accident, not an ideological commitment,” and he sees the unusual term “Hellenic” serving two purposes, neither of which is ironic: it confers on the dead king the kind of praise he would have most appreciated as an educated man of his time, namely “belonging to Hellenism,” and it does so with the kind of exemplary modesty that most befits the gentle and cultured Antiochus. So the irony of the poem does not lie in the epitaph but in its having been “suggested as appropriate to the occasion by Syrian courtiers.” Beaton concludes:
 
            ...the epitaph with its subtle modesty and glorification of Hellenism is not the spontaneous, unaided work of the Greek sophist called in to write it. At one level of irony this undermines the whole epitaph, so that its purpose is merely to flatter and the sentiments expressed no more than the current fashion at an obscure middle-eastern court. But at the same time the irony also serves to deepen the meaning of “Hellenism” in the poem and show the essential contradiction at its heart: that what is called “Hellenic” and praised so highly is as much the creation of Syrians and others as of Greeks (p. 525).
 
            Taken outside the Cavafian context, one might not quarrel with this analysis. But within that context, serious questions remain regarding the poet’s attitude toward his material and the perspective that finally emerges from the poem. With respect to the first “level of irony” as described above, is it among Cavafy’s intentions to satirize this “obscure middle-eastern court” with its cultured, gentle, just, wise, courageous, and provident ruler but its presumably sycophantic and trendy Syrian courtiers, given to post-mortem flattery and fashion-mongering?14 That would seem, on one level, too easy a mark for Cavafy and, on another level, quite out of key with both the image we are given of Antiochos and the poet’s persistent image of Syria and Syrians. And Beaton’s second level of irony, the one that serves to “show the essential contradiction at the poem’s heart,” namely that what is called “Hellenic” and highly praised “is as much the creation of Syrians and others as of Greeks,” raises a related question. Is the implication of the poet’s supposed irony at this level that a Hellenism which is in part the creation of Syrians (most likely once citizens of Antioch, Beirut, or Selefkia, Cavafy’s principal Syrian cities) can neither be truly Hellenic nor represent a quality that the epitaph calls mankind’s highest or most precious? This is hardly an implication that those familiar with Cavafy’s treatment of diaspora Hellenism in poem after poem, over a period of some twenty-five years, are likely to accept. Is it the poet’s irony at the expense of “Syrians and others,” his showing the contradiction occasioned by non-Hellenes contributing to Hellenism, that deepens the meaning of the concept in the poem? Or is it his specifically identifying their contribution¯their quite valid, noncontradictory contribution¯and by implication his celebrating of it that serves to deepen the meaning of Hellenism and establish the particular appropriateness of the term “Hellenic”?
             The point of the poem is that of course Syrian courtiers, and Syrian courtiers perhaps most of all, would be able to advise on an epitaph in which the unusual term “Hellenic,” as Cavafy meant it, plays such a significant role. Are not these Syrian courtiers from that part of the world that is constantly identified as among the centers of diaspora Hellenism in Cavafy, especially during the historical period encompassed by the poem (his editor George Savidis tells us that this Antiochos “could be any one of several kings of the same name who reigned in Kommagini between 64 B.C. and A.D. 72)? Three other poems that Beaton discusses in his essay show Syria to be a primary source of Hellenism during this period, in particular the kind of diaspora Hellenism that is designated by the term “Hellenic” and that we saw in chapter 5 to be that which Cavafy is reported to have claimed as his own: “I too am Hellenic (Eëëçíéêüò). Notice how I put it: not Greek (¸ëëçí), nor Hellenized (Eëëçíßæùí), but Hellenic (Eëëçíéêüò).”15 This remark by Cavafy in conversation with Stratis Tsirkas comes in so pat against irony and satire in this instance that Beaton has to work his way around it by a curious, unsubstantiated argument that seems to me to let him have his cake and eat it too: he dismisses “the evident identity of sympathy between Cavafy and his character in this poem” that the remark appears to reinforce by telling us that the remark “was not intended for publication,” and, in any case, “an essential and courageous feature of Cavafy’s irony is that it spares neither himself nor his predilections” (p. 525, n. 22). Sometimes so indeed (as I suggest above in my commentary on “In the Year 200 B. C.”, p. 147), but where are the grounds for assuming such self-irony, and the distance it implies, in this instance?
             The “biographical” gloss provided by Cavafy’s remark is not the only contextual evidence that undermines Beaton’s ironic reading of “Epitaph to Antiochos... ;” we also have the gloss provided by the three other relevant poems. In “Returning from Greece” (or, as Diskin Clay has shrewdly suggested, “Going Home from Greece” or “Homeward Bound from Greece”16), the philosopher-speaker, who identifies himself as a diaspora Greek returning to his home waters of Cyprus, Syria, and Egypt, tells us that the correct attitude for “Greeks like us” is to honor and delight in “the Syrian and Egyptian blood in our veins”¯in other words, to honor that quality of being “Hellenic” as distinct from that quality represented by mainland Greeks (without “Asiatic tastes and feelings”) or that quality represented by pretenders to Hellenism, with their “showy Hellenified exteriors” based on a Macedonian model.17 The Syrian courtiers of “Epitaph of Antiochos...” are not identified specifically as Greeks from Syria, though they could be: as we see in “One of Their Gods,” Greeks from Syria are taken to be what we would now call native Syrians, distinguished in the poem from a “stranger” or “foreigner” (îÝíïò) in Syrian Selefkia. They are in any case very much a part of the mixture¯the “êñÜìá,” as “In a Town of Osroini” puts it¯that constitutes the essence of Cavafy’s diaspora “Hellenic” world. And in “Herodis Attikos,” which presents this Hellenic world in the second century after Christ, the speaker describes Alexander of Selefkia in Syria as “one of our better sophists,” and he tells us that at this time “future orators” being trained by Hellenism are getting their training in the two Syrian cities of Beirut and Antioch (as well as Alexandria).18 Finally, such dubious Hellenism as the petty Asian monarch of “Philhellene” can claim comes¯if at all¯from Syrian sophists.
            Given this essential Cavafian context, it is not only difficult to envision the Syrian courtiers in “Epitaph of Antiochos...” as the object of the poet’s irony, but what Beaton sees as a contradiction at the poem’s heart, “that what is called ‘Hellenic’ and praised so highly is as much the creation of Syrians and others as of Greeks” is, in the Cavafian context, no contradiction at all. The term “Hellenic” (Eëëçíéêüò) as distinct from “Greek” or “Hellene” or “Philhellene” or “Hellenified non-Greek,” aptly designates what Antiochos of the small Asia Minor principality of Kommagini would have felt himself to be and would have been honored to have himself designated in his epitaph, as Cavafy himself might have in keeping with his identification of himself as “Eëëçíéêüò.” And it is Syrian courtiers perhaps even more than a Greek sophist from Ephesus (which, as Beaton points out, though in Asia Minor “had been close [in this context, read too close] to the centre of the Greek world since pre-classical times”) who would be most likely to understand the particular relevance of the term. As we have seen in chapter 5, Cavafy’s friend and early critic, E.M. Forster, puts the case most succinctly when he tells us that Cavafy was a loyal Greek but that Greece for him was not territorial: “it was rather the influence that has flowed from his race this way and that through the ages, and that (since Alexander the Great) never disdained to mix with barbarism, has indeed desired to mix.” And Forster adds: “Racial purity bored him... The civilization he respected was a bastardy in which the Greek strain prevailed, and into which, age after age, outsiders would push, to modify and be modified.”19
             Antiochos’s epitaph does not celebrate the racially pure Hellenism associated with Classical Greece, that which is normally indicated by the term “¸ëëçí” (Greek or Hellene), but the specifically mixed Hellenism of diaspora Greece that includes “Asiatic tastes and feelings” which¯as the Syrian-Egyptian philosopher of “Returning from Greece” suggested¯are sometimes alien to Hellenism of the mainland Greek tradition and which, in the case of this philosopher, become the source of proper self-recognition and pride. In short, the “Eëëçíéêüò” version of Hellenism is what Syrian courtiers in Kommagini would justly promote as mankind’s highest quality. And that is why the poet has the Ephesian sophist and his Syrian advisers use that unusual, that special, term to honor the provident, wise, and courageous king of Kommagini. Neither he nor his courtiers are the object of the poet’s irony. If there is irony in this poem too, it is directed at those who might choose to think that what the epitaph designates as mankind’s highest quality is the exclusive province of “racially pure” Greeks belonging to the pre-Alexandrian tradition or their disciples, those who might find Cavafy’s term “Eëëçíéêüò” merely strange or confusing or ironic rather than special and therefore to the point.
              In arriving at this not-so-ironic view of “Epitaph of Antiochos... ,” one lays oneself open to two charges: that the reading is not as complicated or ambivalent as some critical approaches might prefer and that it draws for some of its implications not simply on the poem under perusal but also on a “structure” of attitudes created by other Cavafy poems presumed to be relevant, in this case specifically those that are seen to build a complex and special image of Hellenism. Regarding the first charge, I personally find sufficient complication and richness in Cavafy for my taste even when his irony is muted, and I would hope that the approach to his work in this book serves to demonstrate that richness. Also, given my view of Cavafy’s work both in this chapter and throughout Cavafy’s Alexandria, I have to reaffirm my belief that, though Cavafy was a consummate ironist, he nevertheless did have certain convictions, and if not what is called a world-view, at least a perspective on the world that was complex, subtle, subject to development over the course of his career, yet generally identifiable. In fact, without some sense of this perspective as it developed over the years, it is almost impossible to establish the sources and implications of the poet’s irony in specific instances, especially in the more complicated poems of his late years. Finally, I have to acknowledge seeing a certain structure in the images that Cavafy created of both ancient and modern Alexandria and of the broader world of Hellenism which most interested him, a structure that I have perhaps loosely called his “myth,” as defined above, pp. 100-102. This is not the product of an attempt to discover a “hidden meaning” in Cavafy, nor to “decode” him in a particular way, nor to establish “ultimate, profound truth” outside the dramatic context of his work, as Beaton would have it (pp. 517, 519, 528). The “myth” is a way of characterizing certain facets of what Beaton calls Cavafy’s “autonomous dramatic world,” this characterization for the purpose of illustrating the interrelation of many of his poems, which in turn is meant to help illuminate individual poems (what I assumed to be the function of criticism at the start of this discourse).
            I am grateful to both Nasos Vayenas and Roderick Beaton for the assistance their approach has given me in reinterpreting certain of the poems they have analyzed with new insight, but I cannot accept Vayenas’s view that the “problem” of Cavafy’s poetry is solved by looking simply at his use of irony, nor Beaton’s view that irony is “all-pervasive in Cavafy’s poetry,” that “nothing in his poetic world is sacred,” and that this world is entirely one of “shifting relativities.” Though irony is central to Cavafy’s work, it is not the only mode, and in his as in any other poetic world, the presence of irony depends on context. In Cavafy the context that helps the reader to determine exactly what may be subject to irony, and the degree to which irony may or may not be relevant, consists of many things: the poet’s historical sources; the pattern of images and “structure” of attitudes that his poems build beyond his “shifting relativities”; the tone and perspective¯to invoke Auden again¯that characterize his mature voice; and even those old-fashioned resources of the poet’s biography and the poet’s expression of attitudes outside his work.
At the risk of seeming to plead a personal case, I would again underline what Seferis identified as the virtue of reading Cavafy whole, of seeing his poetry as a life-long work-in-progress, of studying the interrelation of his poems and the expanding perspective they shaped over the course of his career. But I have argued this at length in chapter 6. And the proof of the value of this approach must still reside in whether or not the reader finds that it promotes a better understanding and a larger appreciation of individual poems, my primary aspiration in this book.
 
 
 
 
NOTES
 
1. “The Language of Irony (Towards a Definition of the Poetry of Cavafy),” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, vol. 5 (1979), pp. 43-56. Portions of his article first appeared in Greek in The Poet and the Dancer: An Examination of the Poetics of Seferis (Athens, 1979), chapter 1, section 4 (see especially pp. 95-102).
 
2. “C. P. Cavafy: Irony and Hellenism,” The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 59, no. 4 (1981), pp. 516-528.
 
3. The Complete Poems of Cavafy (New York, 1976), pp. vii-xv. The essay also appears in Forewords and Afterwords (New York, 1973).
 
4. The cycle of Julian poems in the canon numbered six. One more poem, “Julian at the Mysteries,” joined the cycle after the 1967 publication of “unpublished poems” [AíÝêäïôá ÐïéÞìáôá], edited by George Savidis (though “On the Outskirts of Antioch” was published for the first time after Cavafy’s death, it appeared in the 1935 posthumous collection of his work, published in Alexandria, that established the so-called canon). Five additional “unpublished poems” appeared for the first time in 1981, judiciously edited by Renata Lavagnini, in “The Unpublished Drafts of Five Poems on Julian the Apostate,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, vol. 7, pp. 55-88. In the same issue (pp. 89-104), G.W. Bowersock offers a perceptive and authoritative commentary on the five poems and on the group as a whole in his “The Julian Poems of C.P. Cavafy.” He shows, among other significant things, how keen Cavafy was to be historically accurate. He also demonstrates that in the Julian poems Cavafy “concerned himself with a rather small number of topics from the range of those that were possible... Julian’s childhood, Julian at Antioch, and Julian’s death,” and that the “common denominator for every single one of the poems¯what links the principal motifs together¯is Christianity” (p. 101). Bowersock sees the poems confirming how important Antioch was as a symbol in Cavafy of both permissive Christianity and appropriate Hellenism or Greekness. He concludes: “In the Julian poems he struggled for historical accuracy because it was clearly imperative for him to know that there really had been a world that could accommodate a sensualist, both Christian and Greek” (pp. 103-104).
 
5. As G. W. Bowersock puts it, “the Christians of Julian’s time were, after all, for the most part yesterday’s pagans. They had not changed their way of life all that much. At Antioch they went to the theater and the chariot races, and they celebrated their festivals as they had before. When Julian entered the city he heard the ill-omened wailing of the festival of Adonis. Cavafy understood all this rather better than most historians” (“The Julian Poems of C. P. Cavafy,” p. 101 ).
 
6. A. A. Vasiliev, History of the Byzantine Empire, vol. 1 (Madison, 1968), p. 73. And Bowersock tells us that the characteristics of Julian which Cavafy chose to underscore were hypocrisy and puritanical intolerance, and he adds: “The sources provide ample justification for characterizing the emperor in this way, even if many writers have preferred different assessments. Julian was an ascetic who demanded strict adherence to the principles of his new pagan church” (“The Julian Poems of C. P. Cavafy,” p. 101).
 
7. The New York Review of Books, Feb. 17, 1977, pp. 32-34, included in his collection of essays, Less Than One (New York 1986), under the title “Pendulum’s Song”.
 
8. Ed. Bury, vol. 111 (London, 1908), pp. 479-480.
 
9. Quotations from Beaton’s commentary on “Ionic” are taken from pp. 526-527.
 
10. See the note on “Ionic” in C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems.
 
11. Pring, in The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Greek, (1965) defines “óöñßãïò” as “youthful exuberance.” Kyriakides, in his Modern Greek-English Dictionary, published at the time the poem was written (Athens, 1909), offers “vigor; strength, pith, ardor, exuberance.” 
 
12. See the note on “Orophernis” in C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Nineteen hundred four is also the year in which Cavafy began to write erotic poetry in the first person.
 
13. See Liddell and Scott, “Eëëçíéêüò.”
 
14. Though Beaton tells us that Cavafy did not use irony “to debunk certain attitudes and characters,” what other implication can one draw from Beaton’s view that one level of the poet’s irony “undermines the whole epitaph” so that we see that “its purpose is merely to flatter and the sentiments expressed no more than the current fashion at an obscure middle-eastern court”?
 
15. See chapter 5, fn. 3.
 
16. See “The Silence of Hermippos: Greece in the Poetry of Cavafy,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, no. 3 (1977), p. 109.
 
17. In his note to the poem in Collected Poems, Savidis suggests that the poem’s “Hermippos” may be the grammarian of the time of Trajan and Hadrian (A.D. 98-138), but the time of the poem’s discourse has to remain speculative.
 
18. Beaton gives this poem an interesting reading, but he fails to establish sufficient distinction between the poet and his speaker. The poem is a dramatic monologue, and the speaker, when he calls Alexander of Selefkia “one of our better sophists,” identifies himself as a Greek of the diaspora. He is thus limited in his point of view by both the particular historical context and the implications of his diaspora “Hellenic” identity. I have two specific quibbles. What Beaton sees as the poet’s irony at Herodis’s expense is based on Herodis supposedly being “content, as it appears he is, to enjoy his ‘luck’ and to be ‘followed only.’” Herodis may or may not have been content to enjoy his “luck.” The speaker simply tells us that “tactful” (ëåðôüò) Herodis answers the sophist Alexander by saying that instead of sending the Greeks back to Athens to hear Alexander speak, Herodis will return with them, presumably because they will not return without him. And it is the diaspora speaker, observing the scene from the perspective of someone living in Alexandria, Antioch, or Beirut, who offers the expression “the Greeks (the Greeks!).” Beaton tells us that the repetition “implies not admiration but incredulity.” The repetition does indeed suggest incredulity on the speaker’s part, but it also suggests thereby his implicit admiration¯perhaps now fading¯for the Athenians in that the Athenians of the speaker’s day (not of the classical past, because the poem nowhere indicates that the speaker is interested in “the Greeks of the classical golden age, and of the classics textbooks”) are depicted by him as having abandoned¯at least in the presence of Herodis¯their assumed superior capacity for disputations, for criticism and debate, since they apparently follow Herodis without criticism, debate, or even choice. So, in any case, the speaker pictures them, and without a recognition of the speaker’s particular attitude toward Athenians during that moment of history and without a sense of the possible distance between poet and speaker in this respect, the reader has little basis for discovering the poet’s irony regarding the decline of Athenian sophistry. In a note that appears in O KáâÜöçò áðáñáìüñöùôïò (Athens, 1981, pp. 85-86; originally published as a letter to the editor in Kathimerini), Timos Malanos informs us that in this poem Cavafy uses the repeated term “¸ëëçíåò” (the Greeks) with “anything but the local meaning.” His meaning, according to Malanos, is derived from his source, Philostratos’s Lives of the Sophists, where the term “does not mean a resident of Greece or the Greek in general, but exclusively and only ‘the student of rhetoric.’” Malanos bases his view of what Philostratos means by the term on the Glossary to the Loeb edition of Philostratos, trans. W.C. Wright (Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1922), p. 569.
 
 
19. Two Cheers for Democracy (London, 1951), pp. 249-250. Forster’s essay on Cavafy was omitted from the American edition of this collection.

Edmund Keeley, “Voice, Perspective, and Context” (1983). In Cavafy’s Alexandria, Princeton University Press, 1996