Kleitos Illness The Canon
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Kleitos, a likeable young man,
about twenty-three years old
with an excellent upbringing, a rare knowledge of Greek
is seriously ill. He caught the fever
that reaped a harvest this year in Alexandria.
 
The fever found him already worn out morally
by the pain of knowing that his friend, a young actor,
had stopped loving and wanting him.
 
Hes seriously ill, and his parents are terribly worried.
 
An old servant who brought him up
is also full of fear for Kleitos life;
and in her terrible anxiety
she remembers an idol she used to worship
when she was young, before she came there as a maid,
to the house of distinguished Christians, and turned Christian herself.
She secretly brings some votive cake, some wine and honey,
and places them before the idol. She chants whatever phrases
she remembers from old prayers: odds and ends. The ninny
doesnt realize that the black demon couldnt care less
whether a Christian gets well or not.

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