Valiant are you who fought and fell gloriously;
fearless of those who were everywhere victorious.
Blameless, even if Diaeos and Critolaos were at fault.
When the Greeks want to boast,
"Our nation turns out such men" they will say
of you. And thus marvellous will be your praise. --
Written in Alexandria by an Achaean;
in the seventh year of Ptolemy Lathyrus.
Constantine P. Cavafy (1922)
[ Greek original ]
The Achaean League (280-146 BC) was the last attempt of the Greeks to
maintain their independence; it was dissolved when the corrupt generals
Diaeos and Critolaos were defeated in 146 BC by the Roman
general Mummius. This imaginary epigram is attributed by the poet to an
Achaean living in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy VIII Lathyrus,
also a very turbulent age. In reality, the poem was written in 1922, after
Greece sustained a defeat at Asia Minor.
Back to [ Cavafy ]
(C) George Barbanis