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If Actually Dead

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



"Where did the Sage withdraw to, where did he disappear?
After his many miracles,
the renown of his teaching
which spread to so many countries,
he suddenly hid himself and nobody knew for certain
what happened to him
(nor did anybody ever see his grave).
Some reported that he died at Ephesus.
But Damis does not record that in his memoir.
Damis says nothing about the death of Apollonios.
Others said that he disappeared at Lindos.
Or maybe the story is true
about his assumption in Crete,
at the ancient sanctuary of Diktynna.
But then again we have that miraculous,
that supernatural apparition of his
before a young student at Tyana.
Maybe the time has not yet come for him to return
and show himself to the world again;
or maybe, transfigured, he moves among us
unrecognized—. But he will come again
as he was, teaching the ways of truth; and then of course
he will bring back the worship of our gods
and our elegant Hellenic rites."

These were the musings of one of the few pagans,
one of the very few still left,
as he sat in his shabby room just after reading
Philostratos' On Apollonios of Tyana.
But even he—a trivial and cowardly man—
played the Christian in public and went to church.
It was the time when Justin, known as the elder,
reigned in total piety,
and Alexandria, a godly city,
detested pitiful idolators.

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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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