Herodis Attikos

What glory, this, for Herodis Attikos!

Alexander of Selefkia, one of our better sophists,
on reaching Athens to lecture
finds the city deserted
because Herodis was in the country and all the young men
had followed him there to hear him.
This makes sophist Alexander
write Herodis a letter
begging him to send the Greeks back.
And the tactful Herodis answers at once:
"Along with the Greeks, I'm coming too."

How many young men now in Alexandria,
in Antioch or Beirut
(being trained by Hellenism as its future orators),
meeting at choice banquets
where the talk is sometimes about fine sophistry,
sometimes about their exquisite love affairs,
suddenly find their attention wandering and fall silent?
Their glasses untouched,
they think about Herodis' fortune-
what other sophist has been given this kind of honour?
Whatever his wish, whatever he does,
the Greeks (the Greeks!) follow him,
not to criticize or debate,
not even to choose any longer,
only to follow.

Constantine P. Cavafy

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