What glory, this, for Herodis Attikos!

What glory, this, for Herodis Attikos!

Alexander of Selefkia, one of our good sophists,
on reaching Athens to lecture
finds the city deserted because Herodis
was in the countryside. And all the young men
had followed him there to hear him.
This makes sophist Alexander
write Herodis a letter
begging him to send the Greeks back.
And the tactful Herodis answers at once:
“Along with the Greeks, I’m coming too.”

How many young men now in Alexandria,
in Antioch or in Beirut
(being trained by Hellenism as its future orators),
meeting at their choice banquets
where the talk is sometimes about fine sophistry,
sometimes about their exquisite love affairs,
are suddenly distracted and fall silent.
Their glasses untouched in front of them,
they think about Herodis’ good fortune—
what other sophist has been given this kind of honor?
Whatever his wish, whatever he does,
the Greeks (the Greeks!) follow him,
not to criticize or debate,
not even to choose any longer,
only to follow.

 

 

 

C.P. Cavafy
Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

 

 

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