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CharalambidesWith “Aeschylus son of Euphorion’s valour” (Quince Apple, 2006) Kyriakos Charalambides enters into dialogue with C. P. Cavafy and specifically with his famous poem “Young men of Sidon, 400 AD”.

Such ‘contrarian’ exchanges with major authorities of the Greek past (poets or other) are common in Charalambides from Meta-History (1995) onwards. The technique re-performs the time-honoured Greek tradition of philosophical, indeed agonistic, dialogue, but also, in its systematic logicality, it relates further to the quasi-essayist poetic style that Charalambides first establishes in Dokimin (a collection whose title, among other connotations, also alludes to the word δοκίμιον, essay).

cavafyThe formula is simple: what the traditional authority has to say about a specific matter is treated with respectful disagreement and is systematically refuted. The new proposal constitutes a re-interpretation, and thus a renovation, of tradition.

In “Aeschylus son of Euphorion’s prowess”, the bone of contention is Aeschylus’ legacy as immortalised on his funerary epigram in Gela.

You can read Charalambides’ Greek original here. Cavafy’s poem can be read in Greek here and in the English translation by Edmund Keeley and Phiip Sherrard here.

Thanks are due to my friend and colleague Vayos Liapis for his comments on the translation. I am also indebted to the poet himself for his support.

AESCHYLUS SON OF EUPHORION’S VALOUR

(Quince Apple, 2006)

Now, in front of this sepulchre
in ash-consuming Gela, a carving startles:
“His glorious prowess the Marathonian grove…”
 
The matter is in need of some clarification
more thick-tressed than the Mede himself.
For you, a man full of euphoria,
produced works that no one
dared question.
(In the tiniest of their branches nestles,
like a curl, the triple-woven word).
 
And if you wanted in the Marathonian grove
a prize of yours to place, o most blessed one,
why did you bypass the naval battles
which had a share in your excellence?
 
Hold on, however; now that I’m thinking better of it,
the mention of Marathon summed up everything else,
indeed it cleansed the streaming of the art — the mention of Marathon
kneaded your soul and shaped it
so that you may be an autochthon
of your manly valour, not looking for
virtue in the heavens; for it exists
in the flourishing of minds, in that grove
which evenly apportions
fragrances, colours and worships.
Above all, as a veteran of Marathon,
you know how little is required
to strike the aesthetic balance in the midst of all
that Marathon artfully conceals.
 

May 2003

Aeschylus

ΔΙΑΒΑΣΤΕ ΕΠΙΣΗΣ:

  1. Ένα ποίημα του Κυριάκου Χαραλαμπίδη (“Ύστερη Εποχή του Χαλκού”, Δοκίμιν)
  2. Συνομιλία με τον ποιητή Κυριάκο Χαραλαμπίδη
  3. Μια ακόμη συνομιλία με τον ποιητή Κυριάκο Χαραλαμπίδη
  4. Ο Κυριάκος Χαραλαμπίδης στο Ανοικτό Πανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου (20 Μαρτίου 2009)
  5. Kyriakos Charalambides, Six poems (translated by A.K. Petrides)
  6. “Ορέστης” ένα ποίημα του Κυριάκου Χαραλαμπίδη (“Στη Γλώσσα της Υφαντικής”, 2013)
  7. “Orestes”: a poem by Kyriakos Charalambides translated by A.K. Petrides
  8. “At his daughter’s wedding”: a poem by K. Charalambides translated by A.K. Petrides
  9. “Ardana II”: a poem by K. Charalambides translated by A.K. Petrides
  10. “Agamemnon”: a poem by K. Charalambides translated by A.K. Petrides
  11. “Child with a photograph”: a poem by K. Charalambides translated by A.K. Petrides
  12. “Beginning of the indiction”: a poem by K. Charalambides translated by A.K.Petrides