Darius by Constantine P. Cavafy
The poet Phernazis is composing
the important part of his epic poem.
How Darius, son of Hystaspes,
assumed the kingdom of the Persians. (From him
is descended our glorious king
Mithridates, Dionysus and Eupator). But here
philosophy is needed; he must analyze
the sentiments that Darius must have had:
maybe arrogance and drunkenness; but no — rather
like an understanding of the vanity of grandeurs.
The poet contemplates the matter deeply.
But he is interrupted by his servant who enters
running, and announces the portendous news.
The war with the Romans has begun.
The bulk of our army has crossed the borders.
The poet is speechless. What a disaster!
No time now for our glorious king
Mithridates, Dionysus and Eupator,
to occupy himself with greek poems.
In the midst of a war — imagine, greek poems.
Phernazis is impatient. Misfortune!
Just when he was positive that with “Darius”
he would distinguish himself, and shut the mouths
of his critics, the envious ones, for good.
What a delay, what a delay to his plans.
And if it were only a delay, it would still be all right.
But it yet remains to be seen if we have any security
at Amisus. It is not a strongly fortified city.
The Romans are the most horrible enemies.
Can we hold against them
we Cappadocians? It is possible at all?
It is possible to pit ourselves against the legions?
Mighty Gods, protectors of Asia, help us.–
But in all his turmoil and trouble,
the poetic idea too comes and goes persistently–
the most probable, surely, is arrogance and drunkenness;
Darius must have felt arrogance and drunkenness.