POSEIDONIANS


[Like] the Poseidonians in the Tyrrhenian
Gulf, who, although of Greek origin, became barba-
rized as Tyrrhenians or Romans and changed their
speech and most of their habits; though they still
observe one of the Greek feasts even to this day,
and, getting together, they recall their ancient
names and customs, and after bemoaning themselves
they go away in tears.

Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists


Their own Greek tongue the Poseidonians
had totally forgotten after many centuries
of mingling with Tyrrhenians, and Latins, and all foreigners.
The only thing ancestral that was left to them
was some Greek feast, with pretty ceremonials,
with Iyres and flutes, with contests and with crowns.
It was their habit, just before their feast would end,
to gather and relate their ancient usages,
and their Greek names to call to mind again,
though few could understand them now.
And so their feast would always end in melancholy mood.
For they remembered that they too were Greeks
--Italiots they also were, in olden times--
and how low they have sunk, and what they have become,
by living and by speaking like barbarians,
cut off--alas--from their erstwhile Greek ways!

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