Rather than begin the Newman series on obedience whilst Jessica’s discussion is on-going, I have postponed it for one more day to offer another poem from Cavafy.
The great Alexandrian poet was the descendant of those Greeks who had settled in Egypt in the time of the Ptolemies, and was steeped in classical Greek culture. His take on the Spartans at Thermopylae seems well worth sharing. Every group of heroes is vulnerable to its Ephialtis, who was the Greek who showed the Persians the way across the mountains to get at the Spartans from the rear. The reaction to such moments defines men. That Cafavy captures to perfection here:
Honor to those who in the life they lead
define and guard a Thermopylae.
Never betraying what is right,
consistent and just in all they do
but showing pity also, and compassion;
generous when they are rich, and when they are poor,
still generous in small ways,
still helping as much as they can;
always speaking the truth,
yet without hating those who lie.
And even more honor is due to them
when they foresee (as many do foresee)
that in the end Ephialtis will make his appearance,
that the Medes will break through after all.