Faithlessness The Canon
Print
            — “Then, although we are admirers of Homer, we do not admire ....., neither will we praise the verses of Aeschylus in which Thetis says that Apollo at her nuptials
                        was celebrating in song her fair progeny,
                        whose days were to be long, and to know
                        no sickness. And when he had spoken of
                        my lot as in all things blessed of heaven
                        he raised a note of triumph and cheered
                        my soul. And I thought that the word of
                        Phoebus, being divine and full of prophecy,
                        would not fail. And now he himself who
                        uttered the strain, ......, he it is who has
                        slain my son.”
                                                Plato: Republic ii - (Jowett)
 
 
When Thetis they were marrying to Peleus,
Apollo at the brilliant marriage feast
stood up and blessed the goddess and the man
for the brave scion to be born of them.
He said: “Him no disease shall ever touch,
and he shall have long life.” — As thus he spoke,
Thetis exulted; for the god was versed
in prophecies, and his words seemed to her
a promise for her child. And when Achilles
was growing up, and Thessaly was praised
for his exceeding strength and comeliness,
Thetis revolved the promise of the god. —
But old men came one day with news of Troy
and told her of the slaying of Achilles.
Then Thetis, moaning, rent her purple robe,
and tremulously from her person tore
armlets and rings, and cast them on the ground;
and, bitterly alluding to the past,
asked what the wise Apollo was about:
where loitering, the poet who at feasts
speaks wondrously; where loitering, the seer;
when they were slaying her son in his fair youth.
And the old men answering said that even he,
the god Apollo, intervened in Troy,
and, fighting for the Trojans, slew Achilles.

Translated by John Cavafy

(Poems by C. P. Cavafy. Translated, from the Greek, by J. C. Cavafy. Ikaros, 2003)

- Original Greek Poem

- Translation by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard