It's both a bit comforting and disquieting to think on how little things change, despite time and space.
To Have Taken the Trouble
I’m broke and practically homeless.
This fatal city, Antioch,
has devoured all my money:
this fatal city with its extravagant life.
But I’m young and in excellent health.
Prodigious master of things Greek,
I know Aristotle and Plato through and through,
poets, orators, or anyone else you could mention.
I have some idea about military matters
and friends among the senior mercenaries.
I also have a foot in the administrative world;
I spent six months in Alexandria last year:
I know (and this is useful) something about what goes on there—
the scheming of Kakergetis, his dirty deals, and the rest of it.
So I consider myself completely qualified
to serve this country,
my beloved fatherland, Syria.
Whatever job they give me,
I’ll try to be useful to the country. That’s my intention.
But if they frustrate me with their maneuvers—
we know them, those smart operators: no need to say more here—
if they frustrate me, it’s not my fault.
I’ll approach Zabinas first,
and if that idiot doesn’t appreciate me,
I’ll go to his rival, Grypos.
And if that imbecile doesn’t take me on,
I’ll go straight to Hyrkanos.
One of the three will want me anyway.
And my conscience is quiet
about my not caring which one I chose:
the three of them are equally bad for Syria.
But, a ruined man, it’s not my fault.
I’m only trying, poor devil, to make ends meet.
The almighty gods ought to have taken the trouble
to create a fourth, an honest man.
I would gladly have gone along with him.
-C. P. Cavafy