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Sophocles Six Pack - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra and Philoctetes ebook

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Opis ebooka Sophocles Six Pack - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra and Philoctetes - Sophocles

In Sophocles Six Pack you will find the Athenian tragedian's six masterworks - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra and Philoctetes. The digital edition of Sophocles Six Pack includes an image gallery.  

Opinie o ebooku Sophocles Six Pack - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra and Philoctetes - Sophocles

Fragment ebooka Sophocles Six Pack - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra and Philoctetes - Sophocles

Table of Contents

Sophocles Six Pack | Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra and Philoctetes | By Sophocles | Translated by Francis Storr and Lewis Campbell

OEDIPUS THE KING

OEDIPUS AT COLONUS

ANTIGONE

AJAX

ELECTRA

PHILOCTETES

IMAGE GALLERY

Further Reading: Ethical Fragments

Sophocles Six Pack

Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra and Philoctetes

By Sophocles

Translated by Francis Storr and Lewis Campbell

Oedipus the King; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone by Sophocles - Translated by Francis Storr. First published in Sophocles; with an English translation in 1916. Ajax, Electra, Philoctetes by Sophocles – Translated by Lewis Campbell. First published in Sophocles, The Seven Plays in English Verse in 1883.

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Sophocles Six Pack - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra and Philoctetes by Sophocles. Translated by Francis Storr and Lewis Campbell. Published 2017 by Enhanced Media. All rights reserved.

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ISBN: 978-1-365-72491-6

OEDIPUS THE KING

Dramatis Personae

Oedipus.

The Priest of Zeus.

Creon.

Chorus of Theban Elders.

Teiresias.

Jocasta.

Messenger.

Herd of Laius.

Second Messenger.

––––––––

Scene: Thebes. Before the Palace of Oedipus.

––––––––

Suppliants of all ages are seated round the altar at the palace doors, at their head a PRIEST OF ZEUS. To them enter OEDIPUS.

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OEDIPUS

My children, latest born to Cadmus old,

Why sit ye here as suppliants, in your hands

Branches of olive filleted with wool?

What means this reek of incense everywhere,

And everywhere laments and litanies?

Children, it were not meet that I should learn

From others, and am hither come, myself,

I Oedipus, your world-renowned king.

Ho! aged sire, whose venerable locks

Proclaim thee spokesman of this company,

Explain your mood and purport. Is it dread

Of ill that moves you or a boon ye crave?

My zeal in your behalf ye cannot doubt;

Ruthless indeed were I and obdurate

If such petitioners as you I spurned.

––––––––

PRIEST

Yea, Oedipus, my sovereign lord and king,

Thou seest how both extremes of age besiege

Thy palace altars—fledglings hardly winged,

and greybeards bowed with years; priests, as am I

of Zeus, and these the flower of our youth.

Meanwhile, the common folk, with wreathed boughs

Crowd our two market-places, or before

Both shrines of Pallas congregate, or where

Ismenus gives his oracles by fire.

For, as thou seest thyself, our ship of State,

Sore buffeted, can no more lift her head,

Foundered beneath a weltering surge of blood.

A blight is on our harvest in the ear,

A blight upon the grazing flocks and herds,

A blight on wives in travail; and withal

Armed with his blazing torch the God of Plague

Hath swooped upon our city emptying

The house of Cadmus, and the murky realm

Of Pluto is full fed with groans and tears.

Therefore, O King, here at thy hearth we sit,

I and these children; not as deeming thee

A new divinity, but the first of men;

First in the common accidents of life,

And first in visitations of the Gods.

Art thou not he who coming to the town

of Cadmus freed us from the tax we paid

To the fell songstress? Nor hadst thou received

Prompting from us or been by others schooled;

No, by a god inspired (so all men deem,

And testify) didst thou renew our life.

And now, O Oedipus, our peerless king,

All we thy votaries beseech thee, find

Some succor, whether by a voice from heaven

Whispered, or haply known by human wit.

Tried counselors, methinks, are aptest found

To furnish for the future pregnant rede.

Upraise, O chief of men, upraise our State!

Look to thy laurels! for thy zeal of yore

Our country's savior thou art justly hailed:

O never may we thus record thy reign:—

"He raised us up only to cast us down."

Uplift us, build our city on a rock.

Thy happy star ascendant brought us luck,

O let it not decline! If thou wouldst rule

This land, as now thou reignest, better sure

To rule a peopled than a desert realm.

Nor battlements nor galleys aught avail,

If men to man and guards to guard them tail.

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OEDIPUS

Ah! my poor children, known, ah, known too well,

The quest that brings you hither and your need.

Ye sicken all, well wot I, yet my pain,

How great soever yours, outtops it all.

Your sorrow touches each man severally,

Him and none other, but I grieve at once

Both for the general and myself and you.

Therefore ye rouse no sluggard from day-dreams.

Many, my children, are the tears I've wept,

And threaded many a maze of weary thought.

Thus pondering one clue of hope I caught,

And tracked it up; I have sent Menoeceus' son,

Creon, my consort's brother, to inquire

Of Pythian Phoebus at his Delphic shrine,

How I might save the State by act or word.

And now I reckon up the tale of days

Since he set forth, and marvel how he fares.

'Tis strange, this endless tarrying, passing strange.

But when he comes, then I were base indeed,

If I perform not all the god declares.

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PRIEST

Thy words are well timed; even as thou speakest

That shouting tells me Creon is at hand.

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OEDIPUS

O King Apollo! may his joyous looks

Be presage of the joyous news he brings!

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PRIEST

As I surmise, 'tis welcome; else his head

Had scarce been crowned with berry-laden bays.

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OEDIPUS

We soon shall know; he's now in earshot range.

[Enter CREON]

My royal cousin, say, Menoeceus' child,

What message hast thou brought us from the god?

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CREON

Good news, for e'en intolerable ills,

Finding right issue, tend to naught but good.

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OEDIPUS

How runs the oracle? thus far thy words

Give me no ground for confidence or fear.

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CREON

If thou wouldst hear my message publicly,

I'll tell thee straight, or with thee pass within.

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OEDIPUS

Speak before all; the burden that I bear

Is more for these my subjects than myself.

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CREON

Let me report then all the god declared.

King Phoebus bids us straitly extirpate

A fell pollution that infests the land,

And no more harbor an inveterate sore.

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OEDIPUS

What expiation means he? What's amiss?

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CREON

Banishment, or the shedding blood for blood.

This stain of blood makes shipwreck of our state.

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OEDIPUS

Whom can he mean, the miscreant thus denounced?

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CREON

Before thou didst assume the helm of State,

The sovereign of this land was Laius.

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OEDIPUS

I heard as much, but never saw the man.

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CREON

He fell; and now the god's command is plain:

Punish his takers-off, whoe'er they be.

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OEDIPUS

Where are they? Where in the wide world to find

The far, faint traces of a bygone crime?

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CREON

In this land, said the god; "who seeks shall find;

Who sits with folded hands or sleeps is blind."

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OEDIPUS

Was he within his palace, or afield,

Or traveling, when Laius met his fate?

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CREON

Abroad; he started, so he told us, bound

For Delphi, but he never thence returned.

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OEDIPUS

Came there no news, no fellow-traveler

To give some clue that might be followed up?

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CREON

But one escape, who flying for dear life,

Could tell of all he saw but one thing sure.

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OEDIPUS

And what was that? One clue might lead us far,

With but a spark of hope to guide our quest.

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CREON

Robbers, he told us, not one bandit but

A troop of knaves, attacked and murdered him.

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OEDIPUS

Did any bandit dare so bold a stroke,

Unless indeed he were suborned from Thebes?

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CREON

So 'twas surmised, but none was found to avenge

His murder mid the trouble that ensued.

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OEDIPUS

What trouble can have hindered a full quest,

When royalty had fallen thus miserably?

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CREON

The riddling Sphinx compelled us to let slide

The dim past and attend to instant needs.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Well, I will start afresh and once again

Make dark things clear. Right worthy the concern

Of Phoebus, worthy thine too, for the dead;

I also, as is meet, will lend my aid

To avenge this wrong to Thebes and to the god.

Not for some far-off kinsman, but myself,

Shall I expel this poison in the blood;

For whoso slew that king might have a mind

To strike me too with his assassin hand.

Therefore in righting him I serve myself.

Up, children, haste ye, quit these altar stairs,

Take hence your suppliant wands, go summon hither

The Theban commons. With the god's good help

Success is sure; 'tis ruin if we fail.

––––––––

[Exeunt OEDIPUS and CREON]

––––––––

PRIEST

Come, children, let us hence; these gracious words

Forestall the very purpose of our suit.

And may the god who sent this oracle

Save us withal and rid us of this pest.

––––––––

[Exeunt PRIEST and SUPPLIANTS]

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CHORUS

(Str. 1)

Sweet-voiced daughter of Zeus from thy gold-paved Pythian shrine

Wafted to Thebes divine,

What dost thou bring me? My soul is racked and shivers with fear.

(Healer of Delos, hear!)

Hast thou some pain unknown before,

Or with the circling years renewest a penance of yore?

Offspring of golden Hope, thou voice immortal, O tell me.

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(Ant. 1)

First on Athene I call; O Zeus-born goddess, defend!

Goddess and sister, befriend,

Artemis, Lady of Thebes, high-throned in the midst of our mart!

Lord of the death-winged dart!

Your threefold aid I crave

From death and ruin our city to save.

If in the days of old when we nigh had perished, ye drave

From our land the fiery plague, be near us now and defend us!

––––––––

(Str. 2)

Ah me, what countless woes are mine!

All our host is in decline;

Weaponless my spirit lies.

Earth her gracious fruits denies;

Women wail in barren throes;

Life on life downstriken goes,

Swifter than the wind bird's flight,

Swifter than the Fire-God's might,

To the westering shores of Night.

––––––––

(Ant. 2)

Wasted thus by death on death

All our city perisheth.

Corpses spread infection round;

None to tend or mourn is found.

Wailing on the altar stair

Wives and grandams rend the air—

Long-drawn moans and piercing cries

Blent with prayers and litanies.

Golden child of Zeus, O hear

Let thine angel face appear!

––––––––

(Str. 3)

And grant that Ares whose hot breath I feel,

Though without targe or steel

He stalks, whose voice is as the battle shout,

May turn in sudden rout,

To the unharbored Thracian waters sped,

Or Amphitrite's bed.

For what night leaves undone,

Smit by the morrow's sun

Perisheth. Father Zeus, whose hand

Doth wield the lightning brand,

Slay him beneath thy levin bold, we pray,

Slay him, O slay!

––––––––

(Ant. 3)

O that thine arrows too, Lycean King,

From that taut bow's gold string,

Might fly abroad, the champions of our rights;

Yea, and the flashing lights

Of Artemis, wherewith the huntress sweeps

Across the Lycian steeps.

Thee too I call with golden-snooded hair,

Whose name our land doth bear,

Bacchus to whom thy Maenads Evoe shout;

Come with thy bright torch, rout,

Blithe god whom we adore,

The god whom gods abhor.

––––––––

[Enter OEDIPUS.]

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Ye pray; 'tis well, but would ye hear my words

And heed them and apply the remedy,

Ye might perchance find comfort and relief.

Mind you, I speak as one who comes a stranger

To this report, no less than to the crime;

For how unaided could I track it far

Without a clue? Which lacking (for too late

Was I enrolled a citizen of Thebes)

This proclamation I address to all:—

Thebans, if any knows the man by whom

Laius, son of Labdacus, was slain,

I summon him to make clean shrift to me.

And if he shrinks, let him reflect that thus

Confessing he shall 'scape the capital charge;

For the worst penalty that shall befall him

Is banishment—unscathed he shall depart.

But if an alien from a foreign land

Be known to any as the murderer,

Let him who knows speak out, and he shall have

Due recompense from me and thanks to boot.

But if ye still keep silence, if through fear

For self or friends ye disregard my hest,

Hear what I then resolve; I lay my ban

On the assassin whosoe'er he be.

Let no man in this land, whereof I hold

The sovereign rule, harbor or speak to him;

Give him no part in prayer or sacrifice

Or lustral rites, but hound him from your homes.

For this is our defilement, so the god

Hath lately shown to me by oracles.

Thus as their champion I maintain the cause

Both of the god and of the murdered King.

And on the murderer this curse I lay

(On him and all the partners in his guilt):—

Wretch, may he pine in utter wretchedness!

And for myself, if with my privity

He gain admittance to my hearth, I pray

The curse I laid on others fall on me.

See that ye give effect to all my hest,

For my sake and the god's and for our land,

A desert blasted by the wrath of heaven.

For, let alone the god's express command,

It were a scandal ye should leave unpurged

The murder of a great man and your king,

Nor track it home. And now that I am lord,

Successor to his throne, his bed, his wife,

(And had he not been frustrate in the hope

Of issue, common children of one womb

Had forced a closer bond twixt him and me,

But Fate swooped down upon him), therefore I

His blood-avenger will maintain his cause

As though he were my sire, and leave no stone

Unturned to track the assassin or avenge

The son of Labdacus, of Polydore,

Of Cadmus, and Agenor first of the race.

And for the disobedient thus I pray:

May the gods send them neither timely fruits

Of earth, nor teeming increase of the womb,

But may they waste and pine, as now they waste,

Aye and worse stricken; but to all of you,

My loyal subjects who approve my acts,

May Justice, our ally, and all the gods

Be gracious and attend you evermore.

––––––––

CHORUS

The oath thou profferest, sire, I take and swear.

I slew him not myself, nor can I name

The slayer. For the quest, 'twere well, methinks

That Phoebus, who proposed the riddle, himself

Should give the answer—who the murderer was.

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OEDIPUS

Well argued; but no living man can hope

To force the gods to speak against their will.

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CHORUS

May I then say what seems next best to me?

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OEDIPUS

Aye, if there be a third best, tell it too.

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CHORUS

My liege, if any man sees eye to eye

With our lord Phoebus, 'tis our prophet, lord

Teiresias; he of all men best might guide

A searcher of this matter to the light.

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OEDIPUS

Here too my zeal has nothing lagged, for twice

At Creon's instance have I sent to fetch him,

And long I marvel why he is not here.

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CHORUS

I mind me too of rumors long ago—

Mere gossip.

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OEDIPUS

Tell them, I would fain know all.

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CHORUS

'Twas said he fell by travelers.

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OEDIPUS

So I heard,

But none has seen the man who saw him fall.

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CHORUS

Well, if he knows what fear is, he will quail

And flee before the terror of thy curse.

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OEDIPUS

Words scare not him who blenches not at deeds.

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CHORUS

But here is one to arraign him. Lo, at length

They bring the god-inspired seer in whom

Above all other men is truth inborn.

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[Enter TEIRESIAS, led by a boy.]

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OEDIPUS

Teiresias, seer who comprehendest all,

Lore of the wise and hidden mysteries,

High things of heaven and low things of the earth,

Thou knowest, though thy blinded eyes see naught,

What plague infects our city; and we turn

To thee, O seer, our one defense and shield.

The purport of the answer that the God

Returned to us who sought his oracle,

The messengers have doubtless told thee—how

One course alone could rid us of the pest,

To find the murderers of Laius,

And slay them or expel them from the land.

Therefore begrudging neither augury

Nor other divination that is thine,

O save thyself, thy country, and thy king,

Save all from this defilement of blood shed.

On thee we rest. This is man's highest end,

To others' service all his powers to lend.

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TEIRESIAS

Alas, alas, what misery to be wise

When wisdom profits nothing! This old lore

I had forgotten; else I were not here.

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OEDIPUS

What ails thee? Why this melancholy mood?

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TEIRESIAS

Let me go home; prevent me not; 'twere best

That thou shouldst bear thy burden and I mine.

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OEDIPUS

For shame! no true-born Theban patriot

Would thus withhold the word of prophecy.

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TEIRESIAS

Thy words, O king, are wide of the mark, and I

For fear lest I too trip like thee...

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OEDIPUS

Oh speak,

Withhold not, I adjure thee, if thou know'st,

Thy knowledge. We are all thy suppliants.

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TEIRESIAS

Aye, for ye all are witless, but my voice

Will ne'er reveal my miseries—or thine. 2

OEDIPUS

What then, thou knowest, and yet willst not speak!

Wouldst thou betray us and destroy the State?

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TEIRESIAS

I will not vex myself nor thee. Why ask

Thus idly what from me thou shalt not learn?

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OEDIPUS

Monster! thy silence would incense a flint.

Will nothing loose thy tongue? Can nothing melt thee,

Or shake thy dogged taciturnity?

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TEIRESIAS

Thou blam'st my mood and seest not thine own

Wherewith thou art mated; no, thou taxest me.

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OEDIPUS

And who could stay his choler when he heard

How insolently thou dost flout the State?

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TEIRESIAS

Well, it will come what will, though I be mute.

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OEDIPUS

Since come it must, thy duty is to tell me.

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TEIRESIAS

I have no more to say; storm as thou willst,

And give the rein to all thy pent-up rage.

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OEDIPUS

Yea, I am wroth, and will not stint my words,

But speak my whole mind. Thou methinks thou art he,

Who planned the crime, aye, and performed it too,

All save the assassination; and if thou

Hadst not been blind, I had been sworn to boot

That thou alone didst do the bloody deed.

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TEIRESIAS

Is it so? Then I charge thee to abide

By thine own proclamation; from this day

Speak not to these or me. Thou art the man,

Thou the accursed polluter of this land.

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OEDIPUS

Vile slanderer, thou blurtest forth these taunts,

And think'st forsooth as seer to go scot free.

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TEIRESIAS

Yea, I am free, strong in the strength of truth.

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OEDIPUS

Who was thy teacher? not methinks thy art.

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TEIRESIAS

Thou, goading me against my will to speak.

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OEDIPUS

What speech? repeat it and resolve my doubt.

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TEIRESIAS

Didst miss my sense wouldst thou goad me on?

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OEDIPUS

I but half caught thy meaning; say it again.

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TEIRESIAS

I say thou art the murderer of the man

Whose murderer thou pursuest.

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OEDIPUS

Thou shalt rue it

Twice to repeat so gross a calumny.

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TEIRESIAS

Must I say more to aggravate thy rage?

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OEDIPUS

Say all thou wilt; it will be but waste of breath.

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TEIRESIAS

I say thou livest with thy nearest kin

In infamy, unwitting in thy shame.

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OEDIPUS

Think'st thou for aye unscathed to wag thy tongue?

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TEIRESIAS

Yea, if the might of truth can aught prevail.

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OEDIPUS

With other men, but not with thee, for thou

In ear, wit, eye, in everything art blind.

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TEIRESIAS

Poor fool to utter gibes at me which all

Here present will cast back on thee ere long.

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OEDIPUS

Offspring of endless Night, thou hast no power

O'er me or any man who sees the sun.

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TEIRESIAS

No, for thy weird is not to fall by me.

I leave to Apollo what concerns the god.

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OEDIPUS

Is this a plot of Creon, or thine own?

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TEIRESIAS

Not Creon, thou thyself art thine own bane.

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OEDIPUS

O wealth and empiry and skill by skill

Outwitted in the battlefield of life,

What spite and envy follow in your train!

See, for this crown the State conferred on me.

A gift, a thing I sought not, for this crown

The trusty Creon, my familiar friend,

Hath lain in wait to oust me and suborned

This mountebank, this juggling charlatan,

This tricksy beggar-priest, for gain alone

Keen-eyed, but in his proper art stone-blind.

Say, sirrah, hast thou ever proved thyself

A prophet? When the riddling Sphinx was here

Why hadst thou no deliverance for this folk?

And yet the riddle was not to be solved

By guess-work but required the prophet's art;

Wherein thou wast found lacking; neither birds

Nor sign from heaven helped thee, but I came,

The simple Oedipus; I stopped her mouth

By mother wit, untaught of auguries.

This is the man whom thou wouldst undermine,

In hope to reign with Creon in my stead.

Methinks that thou and thine abettor soon

Will rue your plot to drive the scapegoat out.

Thank thy grey hairs that thou hast still to learn

What chastisement such arrogance deserves.

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CHORUS

To us it seems that both the seer and thou,

O Oedipus, have spoken angry words.

This is no time to wrangle but consult

How best we may fulfill the oracle.

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TEIRESIAS

King as thou art, free speech at least is mine

To make reply; in this I am thy peer.

I own no lord but Loxias; him I serve

And ne'er can stand enrolled as Creon's man.

Thus then I answer: since thou hast not spared

To twit me with my blindness—thou hast eyes,

Yet see'st not in what misery thou art fallen,

Nor where thou dwellest nor with whom for mate.

Dost know thy lineage? Nay, thou know'st it not,

And all unwitting art a double foe

To thine own kin, the living and the dead;

Aye and the dogging curse of mother and sire

One day shall drive thee, like a two-edged sword,

Beyond our borders, and the eyes that now

See clear shall henceforward endless night.

Ah whither shall thy bitter cry not reach,

What crag in all Cithaeron but shall then

Reverberate thy wail, when thou hast found

With what a hymeneal thou wast borne

Home, but to no fair haven, on the gale!

Aye, and a flood of ills thou guessest not

Shall set thyself and children in one line.

Flout then both Creon and my words, for none

Of mortals shall be striken worse than thou.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Must I endure this fellow's insolence?

A murrain on thee! Get thee hence! Begone

Avaunt! and never cross my threshold more.

––––––––

TEIRESIAS

I ne'er had come hadst thou not bidden me.

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OEDIPUS

I know not thou wouldst utter folly, else

Long hadst thou waited to be summoned here.

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TEIRESIAS

Such am I—as it seems to thee a fool,

But to the parents who begat thee, wise.

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OEDIPUS

What sayest thou—"parents"? Who begat me, speak?

––––––––

TEIRESIAS

This day shall be thy birth-day, and thy grave.

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OEDIPUS

Thou lov'st to speak in riddles and dark words.

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TEIRESIAS

In reading riddles who so skilled as thou?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Twit me with that wherein my greatness lies.

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TEIRESIAS

And yet this very greatness proved thy bane.

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OEDIPUS

No matter if I saved the commonwealth.

––––––––

TEIRESIAS

'Tis time I left thee. Come, boy, take me home.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Aye, take him quickly, for his presence irks

And lets me; gone, thou canst not plague me more.

––––––––

TEIRESIAS

I go, but first will tell thee why I came.

Thy frown I dread not, for thou canst not harm me.

Hear then: this man whom thou hast sought to arrest

With threats and warrants this long while, the wretch

Who murdered Laius—that man is here.

He passes for an alien in the land

But soon shall prove a Theban, native born.

And yet his fortune brings him little joy;

For blind of seeing, clad in beggar's weeds,

For purple robes, and leaning on his staff,

To a strange land he soon shall grope his way.

And of the children, inmates of his home,

He shall be proved the brother and the sire,

Of her who bare him son and husband both,

Co-partner, and assassin of his sire.

Go in and ponder this, and if thou find

That I have missed the mark, henceforth declare

I have no wit nor skill in prophecy.

––––––––

[Exeunt TEIRESIAS and OEDIPUS]

––––––––

CHORUS

(Str. 1)

Who is he by voice immortal named from Pythia's rocky cell,

Doer of foul deeds of bloodshed, horrors that no tongue can tell?

A foot for flight he needs

Fleeter than storm-swift steeds,

For on his heels doth follow,

Armed with the lightnings of his Sire, Apollo.

Like sleuth-hounds too

The Fates pursue.

––––––––

(Ant. 1)

Yea, but now flashed forth the summons from Parnassus' snowy peak,

"Near and far the undiscovered doer of this murder seek!"

Now like a sullen bull he roves

Through forest brakes and upland groves,

And vainly seeks to fly

The doom that ever nigh

Flits o'er his head,

Still by the avenging Phoebus sped,

The voice divine,

From Earth's mid shrine.

––––––––

(Str. 2)

Sore perplexed am I by the words of the master seer.

Are they true, are they false? I know not and bridle my tongue for

fear,

Fluttered with vague surmise; nor present nor future is clear.

Quarrel of ancient date or in days still near know I none

Twixt the Labdacidan house and our ruler, Polybus' son.

Proof is there none: how then can I challenge our King's good name,

How in a blood-feud join for an untracked deed of shame?

––––––––

(Ant. 2)

All wise are Zeus and Apollo, and nothing is hid from their ken;

They are gods; and in wits a man may surpass his fellow men;

But that a mortal seer knows more than I know—where

Hath this been proven? Or how without sign assured, can I blame

Him who saved our State when the winged songstress came,

Tested and tried in the light of us all, like gold assayed?

How can I now assent when a crime is on Oedipus laid?

––––––––

CREON

Friends, countrymen, I learn King Oedipus

Hath laid against me a most grievous charge,

And come to you protesting. If he deems

That I have harmed or injured him in aught

By word or deed in this our present trouble,

I care not to prolong the span of life,

Thus ill-reputed; for the calumny

Hits not a single blot, but blasts my name,

If by the general voice I am denounced

False to the State and false by you my friends.

––––––––

CHORUS

This taunt, it well may be, was blurted out

In petulance, not spoken advisedly.

––––––––

CREON

Did any dare pretend that it was I

Prompted the seer to utter a forged charge?

––––––––

CHORUS

Such things were said; with what intent I know not.

––––––––

CREON

Were not his wits and vision all astray

When upon me he fixed this monstrous charge?

––––––––

CHORUS

I know not; to my sovereign's acts I am blind.

But lo, he comes to answer for himself.

––––––––

[Enter OEDIPUS.]

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Sirrah, what mak'st thou here? Dost thou presume

To approach my doors, thou brazen-faced rogue,

My murderer and the filcher of my crown?

Come, answer this, didst thou detect in me

Some touch of cowardice or witlessness,

That made thee undertake this enterprise?

I seemed forsooth too simple to perceive

The serpent stealing on me in the dark,

Or else too weak to scotch it when I saw.

This thou art witless seeking to possess

Without a following or friends the crown,

A prize that followers and wealth must win.

––––––––

CREON

Attend me. Thou hast spoken, 'tis my turn

To make reply. Then having heard me, judge.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Thou art glib of tongue, but I am slow to learn

Of thee; I know too well thy venomous hate.

––––––––

CREON

First I would argue out this very point.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

O argue not that thou art not a rogue.

––––––––

CREON

If thou dost count a virtue stubbornness,

Unschooled by reason, thou art much astray.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

If thou dost hold a kinsman may be wronged,

And no pains follow, thou art much to seek.

––––––––

CREON

Therein thou judgest rightly, but this wrong

That thou allegest—tell me what it is.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Didst thou or didst thou not advise that I

Should call the priest?

––––––––

CREON

Yes, and I stand to it.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Tell me how long is it since Laius...

––––––––

CREON

Since Laius...? I follow not thy drift.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

By violent hands was spirited away.

––––––––

CREON

In the dim past, a many years agone.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Did the same prophet then pursue his craft?

––––––––

CREON

Yes, skilled as now and in no less repute.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Did he at that time ever glance at me?

––––––––

CREON

Not to my knowledge, not when I was by.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

But was no search and inquisition made?

––––––––

CREON

Surely full quest was made, but nothing learnt.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Why failed the seer to tell his story then?

––––––––

CREON

I know not, and not knowing hold my tongue.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

This much thou knowest and canst surely tell.

––––––––

CREON

What's mean'st thou? All I know I will declare.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

But for thy prompting never had the seer

Ascribed to me the death of Laius.

––––––––

CREON

If so he thou knowest best; but I

Would put thee to the question in my turn.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Question and prove me murderer if thou canst.

––––––––

CREON

Then let me ask thee, didst thou wed my sister?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

A fact so plain I cannot well deny.

––––––––

CREON

And as thy consort queen she shares the throne?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

I grant her freely all her heart desires.

––––––––

CREON

And with you twain I share the triple rule?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Yea, and it is that proves thee a false friend.

––––––––

CREON

Not so, if thou wouldst reason with thyself,

As I with myself. First, I bid thee think,

Would any mortal choose a troubled reign

Of terrors rather than secure repose,

If the same power were given him? As for me,

I have no natural craving for the name

Of king, preferring to do kingly deeds,

And so thinks every sober-minded man.

Now all my needs are satisfied through thee,

And I have naught to fear; but were I king,

My acts would oft run counter to my will.

How could a title then have charms for me

Above the sweets of boundless influence?

I am not so infatuate as to grasp

The shadow when I hold the substance fast.

Now all men cry me Godspeed! wish me well,

And every suitor seeks to gain my ear,

If he would hope to win a grace from thee.

Why should I leave the better, choose the worse?

That were sheer madness, and I am not mad.

No such ambition ever tempted me,

Nor would I have a share in such intrigue.

And if thou doubt me, first to Delphi go,

There ascertain if my report was true

Of the god's answer; next investigate

If with the seer I plotted or conspired,

And if it prove so, sentence me to death,

Not by thy voice alone, but mine and thine.

But O condemn me not, without appeal,

On bare suspicion. 'Tis not right to adjudge

Bad men at random good, or good men bad.

I would as lief a man should cast away

The thing he counts most precious, his own life,

As spurn a true friend. Thou wilt learn in time

The truth, for time alone reveals the just;

A villain is detected in a day.

––––––––

CHORUS

To one who walketh warily his words

Commend themselves; swift counsels are not sure.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

When with swift strides the stealthy plotter stalks

I must be quick too with my counterplot.

To wait his onset passively, for him

Is sure success, for me assured defeat.

––––––––

CREON

What then's thy will? To banish me the land?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

I would not have thee banished, no, but dead,

That men may mark the wages envy reaps.

––––––––

CREON

I see thou wilt not yield, nor credit me.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

[None but a fool would credit such as thou.]

CREON

Thou art not wise.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Wise for myself at least.

––––––––

CREON

Why not for me too?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Why for such a knave?

––––––––

CREON

Suppose thou lackest sense.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Yet kings must rule.

––––––––

CREON

Not if they rule ill.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Oh my Thebans, hear him!

––––––––

CREON

Thy Thebans? am not I a Theban too?

––––––––

CHORUS

Cease, princes; lo there comes, and none too soon,

Jocasta from the palace. Who so fit

As peacemaker to reconcile your feud?

––––––––

[Enter JOCASTA.]

––––––––

JOCASTA

Misguided princes, why have ye upraised

This wordy wrangle? Are ye not ashamed,

While the whole land lies striken, thus to voice

Your private injuries? Go in, my lord;

Go home, my brother, and forebear to make

A public scandal of a petty grief.

––––––––

CREON

My royal sister, Oedipus, thy lord,

Hath bid me choose (O dread alternative!)

An outlaw's exile or a felon's death.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Yes, lady; I have caught him practicing

Against my royal person his vile arts.

––––––––

CREON

May I ne'er speed but die accursed, if I

In any way am guilty of this charge.

––––––––

JOCASTA

Believe him, I adjure thee, Oedipus,

First for his solemn oath's sake, then for mine,

And for thine elders' sake who wait on thee.

––––––––

CHORUS

(Str. 1)

Hearken, King, reflect, we pray thee, but not stubborn but relent.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Say to what should I consent?

––––––––

CHORUS

Respect a man whose probity and troth

Are known to all and now confirmed by oath.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Dost know what grace thou cravest?

––––––––

CHORUS

Yea, I know.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Declare it then and make thy meaning plain.

––––––––

CHORUS

Brand not a friend whom babbling tongues assail;

Let not suspicion 'gainst his oath prevail.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Bethink you that in seeking this ye seek

In very sooth my death or banishment?

––––––––

CHORUS

No, by the leader of the host divine!

(Str. 2)

Witness, thou Sun, such thought was never mine,

Unblest, unfriended may I perish,

If ever I such wish did cherish!

But O my heart is desolate

Musing on our striken State,

Doubly fall'n should discord grow

Twixt you twain, to crown our woe.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Well, let him go, no matter what it cost me,

Or certain death or shameful banishment,

For your sake I relent, not his; and him,

Where'er he be, my heart shall still abhor.

––––––––

CREON

Thou art as sullen in thy yielding mood

As in thine anger thou wast truculent.

Such tempers justly plague themselves the most.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Leave me in peace and get thee gone.

––––––––

CREON

I go,

By thee misjudged, but justified by these.

––––––––

[Exeunt CREON]

CHORUS

(Ant. 1)

Lady, lead indoors thy consort; wherefore longer here delay?

––––––––

JOCASTA

Tell me first how rose the fray.

––––––––

CHORUS

Rumors bred unjust suspicious and injustice rankles sore.

––––––––

JOCASTA

Were both at fault?

––––––––

CHORUS

Both.

––––––––

JOCASTA

What was the tale?

––––––––

CHORUS

Ask me no more. The land is sore distressed;

'Twere better sleeping ills to leave at rest.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Strange counsel, friend! I know thou mean'st me well,

And yet would'st mitigate and blunt my zeal.

––––––––

CHORUS

(Ant. 2)

King, I say it once again,

Witless were I proved, insane,

If I lightly put away

Thee my country's prop and stay,

Pilot who, in danger sought,

To a quiet haven brought

Our distracted State; and now

Who can guide us right but thou?

––––––––

JOCASTA

Let me too, I adjure thee, know, O king,

What cause has stirred this unrelenting wrath.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

I will, for thou art more to me than these.

Lady, the cause is Creon and his plots.

––––––––

JOCASTA

But what provoked the quarrel? make this clear.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

He points me out as Laius' murderer.

––––––––

JOCASTA

Of his own knowledge or upon report?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

He is too cunning to commit himself,

And makes a mouthpiece of a knavish seer.

––––––––

JOCASTA

Then thou mayest ease thy conscience on that score.

Listen and I'll convince thee that no man

Hath scot or lot in the prophetic art.

Here is the proof in brief. An oracle

Once came to Laius (I will not say

'Twas from the Delphic god himself, but from

His ministers) declaring he was doomed

To perish by the hand of his own son,

A child that should be born to him by me.

Now Laius—so at least report affirmed—

Was murdered on a day by highwaymen,

No natives, at a spot where three roads meet.

As for the child, it was but three days old,

When Laius, its ankles pierced and pinned

Together, gave it to be cast away

By others on the trackless mountain side.

So then Apollo brought it not to pass

The child should be his father's murderer,

Or the dread terror find accomplishment,

And Laius be slain by his own son.

Such was the prophet's horoscope. O king,

Regard it not. Whate'er the god deems fit

To search, himself unaided will reveal.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

What memories, what wild tumult of the soul

Came o'er me, lady, as I heard thee speak!

––––––––

JOCASTA

What mean'st thou? What has shocked and startled thee?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Methought I heard thee say that Laius

Was murdered at the meeting of three roads.

––––––––

JOCASTA

So ran the story that is current still.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Where did this happen? Dost thou know the place?

––––––––

JOCASTA

Phocis the land is called; the spot is where

Branch roads from Delphi and from Daulis meet.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

And how long is it since these things befell?

––––––––

JOCASTA

'Twas but a brief while were thou wast proclaimed

Our country's ruler that the news was brought.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

O Zeus, what hast thou willed to do with me!

––––––––

JOCASTA

What is it, Oedipus, that moves thee so?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Ask me not yet; tell me the build and height

Of Laius? Was he still in manhood's prime?

––––––––

JOCASTA

Tall was he, and his hair was lightly strewn

With silver; and not unlike thee in form.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

O woe is me! Mehtinks unwittingly

I laid but now a dread curse on myself.

––––––––

JOCASTA

What say'st thou? When I look upon thee, my king,

I tremble.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

'Tis a dread presentiment

That in the end the seer will prove not blind.

One further question to resolve my doubt.

––––––––

JOCASTA

I quail; but ask, and I will answer all.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Had he but few attendants or a train

Of armed retainers with him, like a prince?

––––––––

JOCASTA

They were but five in all, and one of them

A herald; Laius in a mule-car rode.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Alas! 'tis clear as noonday now. But say,

Lady, who carried this report to Thebes?

––––––––

JOCASTA

A serf, the sole survivor who returned.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Haply he is at hand or in the house?

––––––––

JOCASTA

No, for as soon as he returned and found

Thee reigning in the stead of Laius slain,

He clasped my hand and supplicated me

To send him to the alps and pastures, where

He might be farthest from the sight of Thebes.

And so I sent him. 'Twas an honest slave

And well deserved some better recompense.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Fetch him at once. I fain would see the man.

––––––––

JOCASTA

He shall be brought; but wherefore summon him?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Lady, I fear my tongue has overrun

Discretion; therefore I would question him.

––––––––

JOCASTA

Well, he shall come, but may not I too claim

To share the burden of thy heart, my king?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

And thou shalt not be frustrate of thy wish.

Now my imaginings have gone so far.

Who has a higher claim that thou to hear

My tale of dire adventures? Listen then.

My sire was Polybus of Corinth, and

My mother Merope, a Dorian;

And I was held the foremost citizen,

Till a strange thing befell me, strange indeed,

Yet scarce deserving all the heat it stirred.

A roisterer at some banquet, flown with wine,

Shouted "Thou art not true son of thy sire."

It irked me, but I stomached for the nonce

The insult; on the morrow I sought out

My mother and my sire and questioned them.

They were indignant at the random slur

Cast on my parentage and did their best

To comfort me, but still the venomed barb

Rankled, for still the scandal spread and grew.

So privily without their leave I went

To Delphi, and Apollo sent me back

Baulked of the knowledge that I came to seek.

But other grievous things he prophesied,

Woes, lamentations, mourning, portents dire;

To wit I should defile my mother's bed

And raise up seed too loathsome to behold,

And slay the father from whose loins I sprang.

Then, lady,—thou shalt hear the very truth—

As I drew near the triple-branching roads,

A herald met me and a man who sat

In a car drawn by colts—as in thy tale—

The man in front and the old man himself

Threatened to thrust me rudely from the path,

Then jostled by the charioteer in wrath

I struck him, and the old man, seeing this,

Watched till I passed and from his car brought down

Full on my head the double-pointed goad.

Yet was I quits with him and more; one stroke

Of my good staff sufficed to fling him clean

Out of the chariot seat and laid him prone.

And so I slew them every one. But if

Betwixt this stranger there was aught in common

With Laius, who more miserable than I,

What mortal could you find more god-abhorred?

Wretch whom no sojourner, no citizen

May harbor or address, whom all are bound

To harry from their homes. And this same curse

Was laid on me, and laid by none but me.

Yea with these hands all gory I pollute

The bed of him I slew. Say, am I vile?

Am I not utterly unclean, a wretch

Doomed to be banished, and in banishment

Forgo the sight of all my dearest ones,

And never tread again my native earth;

Or else to wed my mother and slay my sire,

Polybus, who begat me and upreared?

If one should say, this is the handiwork

Of some inhuman power, who could blame

His judgment? But, ye pure and awful gods,

Forbid, forbid that I should see that day!

May I be blotted out from living men

Ere such a plague spot set on me its brand!

––––––––

CHORUS

We too, O king, are troubled; but till thou

Hast questioned the survivor, still hope on.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

My hope is faint, but still enough survives

To bid me bide the coming of this herd.

––––––––

JOCASTA

Suppose him here, what wouldst thou learn of him?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

I'll tell thee, lady; if his tale agrees

With thine, I shall have 'scaped calamity.

––––––––

JOCASTA

And what of special import did I say?

––––––––

OEDIPUS

In thy report of what the herdsman said

Laius was slain by robbers; now if he

Still speaks of robbers, not a robber, I

Slew him not; "one" with "many" cannot square.

But if he says one lonely wayfarer,

The last link wanting to my guilt is forged.

––––––––

JOCASTA

Well, rest assured, his tale ran thus at first,

Nor can he now retract what then he said;

Not I alone but all our townsfolk heard it.

E'en should he vary somewhat in his story,

He cannot make the death of Laius

In any wise jump with the oracle.

For Loxias said expressly he was doomed

To die by my child's hand, but he, poor babe,

He shed no blood, but perished first himself.

So much for divination. Henceforth I

Will look for signs neither to right nor left.

––––––––

OEDIPUS

Thou reasonest well. Still I would have thee send

And fetch the bondsman hither. See to it.

––––––––

JOCASTA

That will I straightway. Come, let us within.

I would do nothing that my lord mislikes.

––––––––

[Exeunt OEDIPUS and JOCASTA]

––––––––

CHORUS

(Str. 1)

My lot be still to lead

The life of innocence and fly

Irreverence in word or deed,

To follow still those laws ordained on high

Whose birthplace is the bright ethereal sky

No mortal birth they own,

Olympus their progenitor alone:

Ne'er shall they slumber in oblivion cold,

The god in them is strong and grows not old.

––––––––

(Ant. 1)

Of insolence is bred

The tyrant; insolence full blown,

With empty riches surfeited,

Scales the precipitous height and grasps the throne.

Then topples o'er and lies in ruin prone;

No foothold on that dizzy steep.

But O may Heaven the true patriot keep

Who burns with emulous zeal to serve the State.

God is my help and hope, on him I wait.

––––––––

(Str. 2)

But the proud sinner, or in word or deed,

That will not Justice heed,

Nor reverence the shrine

Of images divine,

Perdition seize his vain imaginings,

If, urged by greed profane,

He grasps at ill-got gain,

And lays an impious hand on holiest things.

Who when such deeds are done

Can hope heaven's bolts to shun?

If sin like this to honor can aspire,

Why dance I still and lead the sacred choir?

––––––––

(Ant. 2)

No more I'll seek earth's central oracle,

Or Abae's hallowed cell,

Nor to Olympia bring

My votive offering.

If before all God's truth be not bade plain.

O Zeus, reveal thy might,

King, if thou'rt named aright

Omnipotent, all-seeing, as of old;

For Laius is forgot;

His weird, men heed it not;

Apollo is forsook and faith grows cold.

––––––––

[Enter JOCASTA.]

––––––––

JOCASTA

My lords, ye look amazed to see your queen

With wreaths and gifts of incense in her hands.

I had a mind to visit the high shrines,

For Oedipus is overwrought, alarmed

With terrors manifold. He will not use

His past experience, like a man of sense,

To judge the present need, but lends an ear

To any croaker if he augurs ill.

Since then my counsels naught avail, I turn

To thee, our present help in time of trouble,

Apollo, Lord Lycean, and to thee

My prayers and supplications here I bring.

Lighten us, lord, and cleanse us from this curse!

For now we all are cowed like mariners

Who see their helmsman dumbstruck in the storm.

––––––––

[Enter Corinthian MESSENGER.]

––––––––

MESSENGER

My masters, tell me where the palace is

Of Oedipus; or better, where's the king.

––––––––

CHORUS

Here is the palace and he bides within;

This is his queen the mother of his children.

––––––––

MESSENGER

All happiness attend her and the house,

Blessed is her husband and her marriage-bed.

––––––––

JOCASTA

My greetings to thee, stranger; thy fair words

Deserve a like response. But tell me why

Thou comest—what thy need or what thy news.

––––––––

MESSENGER

Good for thy consort and the royal house.

––––––––

JOCASTA

What may it be? Whose messenger art thou?

––––––––

MESSENGER

The Isthmian commons have resolved to make