By Titos Patrikios
The lions had already departed.
Not even one in all of Greece,
except for a rather solitary, evasive
lion hiding out somewhere on the Peleponnesus,
a threat to no one at all,
until it too was slaughtered by Hercules.
Still, our memories of lions
never stopped terrifying us:
their terrible images on coats of arms and shields,
their terrible figures on battle monuments,
that terrible relief carved
into a stone lintel over the gate.
Our past is forever full, terrible,
just as the story of what happened is terrible,
carved as it is now, written on the lintel
of the gate we pass through every day.
Translation copyright by Christopher Bakken and Roula Konsolaki.
Titos Patrikios is one of the leading poets of Greece. Born in 1928 to parents who were actors, he spent his first years in the United States as they toured with a Greek theater company. He returned to Greece, where he eventually studied law at the University of Athens and then philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris.