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Dimaratos

Constantine P. Cavafy 1863 (Alexandria) – 1933 (Alexandria)



His subject, 'The Character of Dimaratos',
which Porphyry proposed to him in conversation
was outlined by the young sophist as follows
(he planned to develop it rhetorically later):
'First a courtier of King Dareios,
and after that of King Xerxes,
now with Xerxes and his army,
at last Dimaratos will be vindicated.
He'd been treated very unjustly.
He was definitely Ariston's son, but his enemies
bribed the oracle brazenly.
And it wasn't enough that they deprived him of his kingship,
but when he finally gave in and decided
to live quietly as a private citizen,
they had to insult him even in front of the people,
they had to humiliate him publicly at the festival.
As a result, he serves Xerxes assiduously.
Along with the great Persian army,
he'll make it back to Sparta too;
and once he's king again, how quickly
he'll throw him out, how thoroughly
he'll shame that schemer Leotychidis.
So now he spends his days full of anxiety,
advising the Persians, explaining
what they should do to conquer Greece.
Much worrying, much thinking, and for this reason
Dimaratos finds his days so burdensome;
much worrying, much thinking, and for this reason
Dimaratos can't find a moment's joy
because what he's feeling can't be called joy
(it isn't; he won't admit it;
how can he call it joy? his distress couldn't be greater)
now things make it quite clear to him
that it's the Greeks who are going to win.'

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Constantine P. Cavafy

Constantine P. Cavafy was a Greek poet who lived in Alexandria and worked as a journalist and civil servant. He published 154 poems; dozens more remained incomplete or in sketch form. His most important poetry was written after his fortieth birthday. more…

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