Cavafy’s interest in Byzantium dates from a very early stage in his poetic career. In fact, the Byzantine empire appears to have been the first historical period to attract the self-styled ‘historian-poet’s’ attention. Some of Cavafy’s earliest historical poems and many of the poems of his maturity bear witness to this, and several of his early prose writings are also indicative of his keen interest in the period. In June 1882, shortly before and during his family’s temporary removal to Constantinople, Cavafy began to keep a journal called ‘Constantinopoliad. An Epic’. Ten years later, he wrote a newspaper article on the Byzantine poets,
. The reason for Cavafy’s early and enduring interest in the Byzantine period, especially Middle and Late Byzantium, may well be connected with the fact that Cavafy had family roots in Constantinople. A second factor is that, for a Greek of the Diaspora, Late Antiquity, when the centre of Hellenism was no longer Athens, held a particular fascination. Cavafy was able, by means of Byzantium, to lay claim to an elevated genealogy, both for himself (as a descendant of the Phanariots) and for his poetry, as central to (through being descended from) the poetic tradition of Byzantine Egypt, rather than peripheral to the Modern Athenian School.