Friday, June 09, 2006

In The Year 200 B.C

"Alexander, son of Philip, and the Greeks except the Lacedaimonians..."

We can very well imagine
how completely indifferent the Spartans would have been
to this inscription. "Except the Lacedaimonians"--
naturally. The Spartans weren't to be led
and ordered around
like precious servants. Besides,
they wouldn't have thought a pan-Hellenic expedition
without a Spartan king in command
was to be taken very seriously.
Of course, then, "except the Lacedaimonians."

That's certainly one point of view. Quite understandable.

So, "except the Lacedaimonians" at Granikos,
then at Issus, then in the decisive battle
where the terrible army
the Persians mustered at Arbela was wiped out:
it set out for victory from Arbela, and was wiped out.

And from this marvellous pan-Hellenic expedition,
triumphant, brilliant in every way,
celebrated on all sides, glorified
incomparable, we emerged:
the great new Hellenic world.

We the Alexandrians, the Antiochians,
the Selefkians, and the countless
other Greeks of Egypt and Syria,
and those in Media, and Persia, and all the rest:
with our far-flung supremacy,
our flexible policy of judicious integration,
and our Common Greek Language
which we carried as far as Bactria, as far as the Indians.

How can one talk about Lacedaimonians now!

Constantine P. Cavafy

More about Cavafy here.
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