Theodotus

If you are one of the truly select,
watch how you acquire your power.
However much you are glorified, however much
the cities in Italy and in Thessaly
acclaim your achievements,
however many decrees of honor
your admirers may have issued in Rome for you,
neither your joy, nor your triumph will remain,
nor will you feel like a superior -- superior, indeed! -- man,
when, in Alexandria, Theodotus brings you,
on a bloodstained tray,
the head of the wretched Pompey.

And do not rest on the fact that in your life
limited, regulated, and prosaic,
there are no such spectacular and terrible things.
Maybe at this very hour, at one of your neighbors'
well appointed house, Theodotus --
invisible, bodiless -- is entering
bringing such a hideous head.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1915)

[ Greek original ]

Notes:

Theodotus was a teacher of rhetoric from Chios who suggested the murder of Pompey and brought to Caesar Pompey's head and signet ring.


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(C) George Barbanis