Orophernes The Canon
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This handsome face upon the silver coin,
the delicate face that looks as if it smiled —
it is the portraiture of Orophernes
who was the son of Ariarathes.
 
 
While he was yet in childhood they expelled him
from Cappadocia, from the ancestral palace,
and sent him to Ionia, to grow up
and be forgotten in the midst of strangers.
 
Ah, those voluptuous Ionian nights
when, fearlessly, with true Hellenic spirit,
he tasted pleasure to the full extent!
Though always, in his heart, an Asiatic,
he hellenized in manners and in speech, —
habitually wore Hellenic dress,
in contrast with his turquoise ornaments;
perfumed himself with perfume of the jasmine;
and among beautiful Ionian youths
was the most beautiful, the most ideal.
 
Afterward — when the Syrians had prevailed
in Cappadocia, and had crowned him King,
he pounced upon the Kingship that he might
day after day possess a novel joy;
that he might grab the silver and the gold
and at the sight of them exult, and boast
of his great hoard of glittering opulence.
As for the country and the ruling of it —
he never even knew what was going on.
 
The Cappadocians promptly turned him out;
and in the palace of Demetrius,
in Syria, he sank into a life
of dissipation and of idleness.
 
One day, however, unusual thoughts assailed
and disconcerted his deep indolence;
he recollected that by reason of
the lineage of Antiochis, his mother —
back to that ancient lady Stratonice —
he was an offshoot of the Syrian crown,
and almost one of the Seleucidae.
And for a little while he roused himself
from his debauchery and drunkenness,
and, all incapable and half bemused,
tried one way or another to intrigue,
tried to do something — to devise a plan,
and failed pitiably and was brought low.
 
The story of his end must have been told
in writing and the writing have been lost;
or it may be that history passed it by,
being loath — and rightly so — to blot the page
with narrative of no significance.
 
He who has left after him upon this coin,
some grace of his in juvenescent days,
some gleam of his poetic loveliness,
this feeling memory of an Ionian boy,
was Orophernes, son of Ariarathes.

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

- Translation by George Valassopoulo