Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Appropriate Poem

The Boyf gave me this poem by my favourite Greek poet Kavafis (Cavafy) to mark the year anniversary of my father's death. It was a very good choice and I like it even without the meaning attached to it by the Boyf. I thought that I would share it with y'all.

Thermopylae
K. Kavafis (1903)

Honour to those who in their lives
have defined and guard their Thermopylae.
Never stirring from duty;
just and upright in all their deeds,
yet with pity and compassion too;
generous when they are rich, and when
they are poor, again a little generous,
again helping as much as they can;
always speaking the truth,
yet without hatred for those who lie.

And more honour is due to them
when they foresee (and many do foresee)
that Ephialtes will finally appear,
and that the Medes in the end will go through
.
Background:
In 480 BC, Xerxes led the Persians (Medes) and invaded Greece. The Spartan king Leonidas, in charge of 7000 Greeks, was ordered to cut the advance of the Persian army at Thermopylae (in central Greece), a narrow strip of land between the sea and impassable mountains. The Persian army, 250,000 strong, attacked twice and was forced to retreat, due to the fact that the passage was so narrow that they could not fully deploy their force. However, an avaricious local farmer, Ephialtes, led a force of Persian infantry through a mountain passage and next morning they appeared behind the Greek lines. Leonidas ordered the rest of the army withdraw, and held the passage with 300 Spartans. As a true Spartan, he chose death over retreat; all 300 Spartans, including Leonidas, died, but held the Persians long enough to ensure the safe withdrawal of the rest of the Greek army.


2 Comments:

At 4:53 PM, Anonymous bert said...

I like that.

I was hating the Greeks recently, mostly because of their parade and how it totally blocked off not only the Danforth but the first three or four blocks north, too, which meant I pretty much had to go up to North York to get west across to Broadview.

But now I think I like them again.

 
At 4:58 PM, Blogger Genet said...

I used to have to march in that parade as a child, so I have a instinctive dislike for it.

I'm glad you liked the poem.

 

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