A king from Western Libya

Generally, he was liked in Alexandria,
Where he sojourned ten days,
The king from western Libya,
Aristomenes, son of Menelaus.
His name, as his dress, was fittingly Greek.
He graciously accepted honors, but
Did not seek them; he was modest.
He bought Greek books mostly
On history or on philosophy.
Above all, he was a man a few words.
He must be a profound man, it was rumored,
And those naturally don’t speak too much.

He was not profound, or anything of that sort.
Just a common, silly fellow
Who had assumed a Greek name, dressed like a Greek,
Acquired Greek mannerisms, more or less;
But dreaded he might spoil the good impression
He had managed to create, if he spoke imperfect Greek.
These awful Alexandrians are no fools,
And they were prone to laugh at him.

So he confined himself to few words,
Working hard on inflexion and the right accent;
But he was bored to death
With all those conversations piled up inside him.

By C. P. Cavafis 
Translated by Constantine Santas

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