Last photograph of Cavafy
Taken just before his death in 1933

Funerary stele
Terenouthis, Egypt
2nd–4th century AD
Kelsey Museum 21077
For Ammonis, Who Died at 29, in 610

Raphael, they’re asking you to write a few lines
as an epitaph for the poet Ammonis:
something very tasteful and polished. You can do it,
you’re the one to write something suitable
for the poet Ammonis, our Ammonis.
Of course you’ll speak about his poems—
but say something too about his beauty,
about his subtle beauty that we loved.

Your Greek is always elegant and musical.
But we want all your craftsmanship now.
Our sorrow and our love move into a foreign language.
Pour your Egyptian feeling into the Greek you use.

Raphael, your verses, you know, should be written
so they contain something of our life within them,
so the rhythm, so every phrase clearly shows
that an Alexandrian is writing about an Alexandrian.

Trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

Plaster funerary mask of
young boy
Roman, 2nd century AD
Kelsey Museum 88243

Tomb of the Grammarian Lysias

In the Beirut library, just to the right as you go in,
we buried wise Lysias, the grammarian.
The spot is beautifully chosen.
We put him near those things of his
that he remembers maybe even there:
comments, texts, grammars, variants,
voluminous studies of Greek idioms.
Also, this way, as we go to the books,
we’ll see, we’ll honor his tomb.

Trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

(above left) Plaster funerary mask of bearded man
Roman, 2nd century AD
Kelsey Museum 88236

left) Plaster funerary mask of beardless man
Fayoum, Egypt
Roman, 117–138 AD
Kelsey Museum 1874