Theodotos The Canon
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If you are one of the truly elect,
be careful how you attain your eminence.
However much you are acclaimed, however much
the cities praise the great things you have done
in Italy and Thessaly,
whatever honors
your admirers decree for you in Rome,
your elation, your triumph will not last,
nor will you feel yourself superiorsuperior indeed!
when Theodotos brings you, in Alexandria,
on a blood-stained tray,
miserable Pompeys head.
 
And do not be too sure that in your life
restricted, regulated, prosaic
spectacular and horrible things like that do not happen.
Maybe this very moment Theodotos
bodiless, invisible
enters some neighbors tidy house
carrying an equally repulsive head.

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 John Cavafy

- Translation by George Valassopoulo