The Alexandrians came out in droves
to have a look at Cleopatra’s children:
Caesarion, and also his little brothers,
Alexander and Ptolemy, who for the first
time were being taken to the Gymnasium,
that they might proclaim them kings
before the brilliant ranks of soldiers.
Alexander: they declared him king
of Armenia, of Media, of the Parthians.
Ptolemy: they declared him king
of Cilicia, of Syria, of Phoenicia.
Caesarion was standing well in front,
attired in rose-colored silk,
on his chest a garland of hyacinths,
his belt a double row of sapphires and amethysts,
his shoes laced up with white
ribbons embroidered with pink-skinned pearls.
Him they declared greater than the boys:
him they declared King of Kings.
The Alexandrians were certainly aware
that these were merely words, a bit of theatre.
But the day was warm and poetic, the sky pale blue,
the Alexandrian Gymnasium
a triumphant artistic achievement,
the courtiers’ elegance exceptional,
Caesarion all grace and beauty
(Cleopatra’s son, of Lagid blood):
and the Alexandrians rushed to the festival,
filled with excitement, and shouted acclaim
in Greek, and in Egyptian, and some in Hebrew,
enchanted by the lovely spectacle—
though of course they knew what they were worth,
what empty words these kingdoms were.