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Aristotle was a great 4th century BCE philosopher who spent much of his life in Athens. He wrote one of the earliest and most important pieces of literary criticism, the Poetics. It is important to note, however, that the ideas about tragedy expressed in the Poetics were not necessarily held by the playwrights themselves, and most tragedies do not fit the strict guidelines established by Aristotle. The Poetics is the origin of the “tragic hero” concept, but in many tragedies, it is hard to figure out exactly who this tragic hero is. We should not hold a play to a philosopher’s standard, and just because Aristotle says something about tragedy or a specific play does not make it true. In general, the influence of the Poetics on future scholars has been somewhat excessive. Aristotle can, nevertheless, help us understand how these plays were read and received about by the ancient Greeks themselves. Oedipus Rex was the tragedy that most closely fit his guidelines. Oedipus is the model of the “tragic hero,” because the concept is based on him. Because of his hamartia (mistake), he suffers a peripeteia (reversal), which, for Aristotle, is the heart of tragedy. Although often translated as “tragic flaw,” hamartia does not indicate a deep or abiding personality failure, such as “pride” or “lust,” but means a mistake of perception or recognition, although scholars debate the precise meaning and scale of this mistake. The peripeteia we might call a “reversal of fortune,” and in most tragedies, we do see the protagonists change from better to worse circumstances. For Aristotle, this reversal was the key towards rousing fear and pity in the audience, which led to catharsis, another term that has become widely used in the study of literature. A word from Greek religion,catharsis indicates ritual purification from pollution, an important concept for Greek life. This pollution, or miasma , came about as the result of crime, especially murder. Just as the physical blood spilled had to be cleaned up, so the more abstract miasma needed to be purified through the proper rituals. This applied to the space where the crime occurred and to the person who committed it; if a murderer went somewhere without being purified, he would bring pollution onto this new place. This is precisely the situation at the beginning of Oedipus Rex, in which the gods have sent a plague against Thebes because of the presence of Laius’ murderer in the city and because of the incest of Oedipus and Jocasta. Aristotle uses the term catharsis to refer to the purging of excessive emotions from a person. By watching the tragedy and feeling the strong emotions of fear and pity on behalf of the characters on stage, the spectator experiences a kind of cleansing of the soul. Just as ritualcatharsis allowed the formerly polluted person to return to the community and take part in communal life without bringing miasma with him, so the metaphorical catharsis from watching tragedy gave the spectators a shared experience that bound them closer together. In other works, Aristotle locates the essence of the self in perception; by sharing perception or perceiving the same things, the spectators develop a sort of common identity. Thus, for Aristotle, watching tragedies was a beneficial activity, both for the individual and the community.
[Scene: outside, in front of the palace of Oedipus. There is also a shrine to Apollo at which are seated many suppliants. Oedipus enters the stage from the palace.] OEDIPUS: My children, new-sprung race of old Cadmus, why do you sit at my shrines, wearing garlands of the suppliants’ olive? All around the city is filled with the smell of incense, all around filled with the sound of hymns and groans.(5) These things I did not think it right to learn from messengers, and so I have come here myself, who am called Oedipus and known to all. But you, old man, tell me, since it is fitting for you to speak on their behalf, why you(10) sit out here, afraid of something or wanting it? So I would be willing to help you in any way, for he would be hardhearted who did not pity such an assembly. PRIEST: Oedipus, you who rule my land, you see(15) how many of us sit here at your altars; some do not yet have the strength to fly far; others are heavy with age. I am the priest of Zeus, and these were chosen from the young men. There is another group wreathed as suppliants(20) sitting in the marketplace and another at the double-gated temple of Athena and at the smoke-filled oracle of Ismenus. For the city, as you yourself can see, is badly shaken already and from the waves(25) can no longer lift her head above this bloody tossing; there is death in the fruitful buds from the earth and in the pasturing herds, and even in the childless births of women. Falling upon us, the fire-bringing god,(30) most hateful disease, drives the city, and by him the house of Cadmus is drained, and dark Hades grows rich with groans and wails. Now, I do not hold you equal to the gods, nor do these children who sit at your hearth,(35) but we judge you the first of men both in the ordinary chances of life and in the contingencies of the divine. It was you who came and released Cadmus’ town from the tribute we paid to the cruel songstress,(40) and these things you did knowing nothing from us,
nor instructed at all, but with help from god you spoke and knew how to set our lives straight. And now, Oedipus, greatest in the eyes of all, we who are here as your suppliants beseech you(45) to find some defense for us, as you may have heard the voice of one of the gods or have learned something from a man—for I think that the ideas of experienced men most often succeed. Come, o best of mortals, and save our city;(50) come, but be careful, since now this land calls you her savior for your former zeal, and let us never recall of your reign that we first stood straight, but stumbled later. Rather, then, restore this city to safety.(55) For at that time you gave us great fortune, be now equal to what you were then. Since, if indeed you would rule this land, just as you do now, it is far better to rule over men than a wasteland;(60) nothing matters, neither tower nor ship, if it is empty of men to dwell within it. OEDIPUS: My poor children, what you desire is known and not unknown to me, for I see well that everyone is sick, and being sick,(65) still, not one of you is as sick as I am. For your pain comes upon the individual, one by one, to each man alone and no other, but my soul groans for the city, for me and you together. Hence, you do not wake me from sleep,(70) but know that I have been weeping much and wandering many roads of the mind. And that which my inquiry found our only cure I have done, for I have sent Creon, son of Menoeceus, my own brother-in-law,(75) to Apollo’s home at Pytho, so that he may learn what I should do or say to save this city. And already enough time has passed that I wonder what he is doing, for he has stayed beyond the proper time. But whenever he comes,(80) I would surely be an evil man not to do whatever the god reveals. PRIEST: Wonderful news! Both what you have said, and what these have just pointed out to me: Creon is approaching!(85)
OEDIPUS: Lord Apollo, if only he might come as bright with redeeming fortune as shine his eyes! PRIEST: It seems he brings good news, for otherwise(90) he would not come crowned with berry-laden laurel. OEDIPUS: We shall know soon, for he is close enough to hear.(95) Lord, kinsman of my wife, child of Menoeceus, what reply do you bring us from the god? [Enter Creon from offstage.] CREON: A good one, for I say that even misfortunes, if somehow put right, bring only good luck. OEDIPUS: What sort of reply is this? For what you say(100) gives me neither confidence nor fear. CREON: If you wish these people nearby to hear, I am ready to speak, or should we go inside? OEDIPUS: Speak to everyone, for I consider their pain more important even than that of my own soul. CREON: I shall say all I heard from the god.(105) Phoebus clearly ordered us, my lord, to drive out the pollution being fostered in this very land, not to nurture it unhealed. OEDIPUS: With what cleansing and for what type of disaster?(110) CREON: By driving a man into exile, or undoing murder with murder again, since this blood shakes our city like a storm. OEDIPUS: And who is the man whose fate he decrees? CREON: My lord, once Laius was our leader in this land, before you came to govern this city.(115) OEDIPUS: So I have heard, though I never saw him. CREON: He died, and the god now orders us clearly to take violent vengeance on the murderers. OEDIPUS:
OEDIPUS: How did a bandit come to dare so much. avenging both this land and the god together.(130) OEDIPUS: What? For one thing could lead us to learn many. For not on behalf of more distant friends. made you see to this so poorly?(140) CREON: The riddle-singing Sphinx compelled us to look at what lay at hand. when your kingship had fallen thus. he said. . once he had set out. forgetting things unseen.(135) unless he acted with money from here? CREON: This was suspected. we had no helper in our troubles. fleeing in fear of those he saw had nothing to say but one thing.(125) and never returned again. who. CREON: He said that bandits fell upon them and killed him. except one. Helping that one. but the hands of many. OEDIPUS: Then I shall reveal these things anew. For whoever he was who killed that man(150) would as soon kill me with that same violent hand.(145) so that you will rightly see me as an ally. therefore. OEDIPUS: Did no messenger or fellow traveler see. not with one man’s strength. and justly did you assign me this case on behalf of the dead. if from hope might come a small beginning. but what is ignored escapes. What is sought can be captured. I am helping myself. he said. whom we might use to find something out? CREON: No. OEDIPUS: Did Laius meet his bloody fate in his home or estate or in some other land? CREON: He left home to consult an oracle. But with Laius fallen. for justly did Phoebus.Where on earth are they? Where will be found this indistinct track of ancient guilt?(120) CREON: In this very land. they died. OEDIPUS: What kind of trouble. but as if from myself I shall dispel the stain.
immortal Athena. But may Phoebus who sent these prophecies(160) come at once as savior and stayer of disease! [Exeunt omnes. stopping these suppliant wails. finding no mourners.But you. those things for which we came here this man himself has promised. setting out for the promontory of the western god. as soon as you can.(155) as I will leave nothing undone. in awe before you. quivering. and your earth-protecting sister.] CHORUS: Str 1O sweetly worded voice of Zeus. While brides and white-haired mothers come together and groan as suppliants over their mournful labors. Ant 2Unable to count their number. For with God’s help we shall see whether we are saved or lost. and Phoebus the farshooter I call: my threefold protection from death. something new or something known and coming back again? Tell me. the city is destroyed. my children. o golden daughter of Zeus. who are you who come from all-gold Pytho to glorious Thebes? My frightened mind shakes in fear. come also now.(175) If ever when madness was set upon the city.(180) and no mind’s weapon can protect me. surer than irresistible fire. Artemis. famous. rise from these seats. o child of golden Hope. shine forth on me. and unpitied. disease falls upon my entire crew. you sent away our burning scourge. their generations lie upon the ground. Because of these.(165) o healing Delian Paean.(195) . on your throne in the marketplace. for the fruit of our famous land does not grow. muster here the people of Cadmus.(170) Ant 1First I call on you. Someone.(190) spreading death. the hymn for healing and the lament ring loud together. One upon another you might see each soul. who sit. Str 2Alas! for I bear countless woes. daughter of Zeus. immortal Utterance. nor do our women emerge from their mournful labors with offspring. PRIEST: Let us stand up. What is it you will achieve for me. my children.(185) like a well-winged bird.] [The Chorus marches into the orchestra.
and what you seek. wine-faced Bacchus. But now. either borne by a wind(200) into the great chamber of Amphitrite or rushing to the inhospitable Thracian wave. But if you are silent again. if night ever leaves something undone. make him perish with your thunderbolt.(215) against this god dishonored by the gods. [Enter Oedipus from the palace.(230) for he will suffer nothing worse than safe exile from this land.send bright-eyed Strength. And I call upon the one with the golden headband. Although a stranger to both report and victim. . for I would not be far in tracking it. o reverend lightning-bearer. to approach with a torch of shining pine. For. turn his back on our fatherland. now without bronze shields. I decree the following to the people of Cadmus:(225) whoever among you knows at whose hands Laius son of Labdacus was destroyed. he should lose his fear and come forward. since only later did I become a citizen among citizens. you may take as help and relief from your troubles. and those of shining. day comes along to complete it. This one. I order this man to tell it all to me. in hurried running. let him not be silent! For I myself shall complete his reward. let him. and he will have(235) my favor. then you must hear from me what I intend to do. fire-bringing Artemis. confronts me and burns me. if you are willing to listen to my words and help in this sickness. if I did not have some clue. hailed companion of the Maenads’ throng. Str 3Furious Ares. But if someone knows that another or one from some other land is the murderer.(220) I shall announce these things. Ant 3And you.] OEDIPUS: You seek. from your golden bow I would have your unconquered arrows fly as a guard set in front of me before my enemy. yet still surrounded by cries. And if the culprit fears this accusation.(205) father Zeus. and someone out of fear pushes away responsibility from himself or a friend. lord of light.(210) with which she darts across the hills of Lycia. eponym of this land.
but they be destroyed in suffering(280) more hateful than that which holds us now. to however many approve what I say. And I curse the doer.I ban this man.(260) wasted away. as the oracle of Pytho has just revealed to me. and I shall try everything.(245) but instead that everyone must expel him from their homes. since I am ruler and hold this kingdom that he held before—holding also the bed and wife we have both sown. had his line not been ill-fated—since chance(270) has driven me into that one’s powers. I pray god that to those who do not do these things no crop may spring up from the ground. you should not suffer this unclean thing. since the man lost was both very noble and your king. therefore I shall fight for him in this matter. that I suffer all that I called upon these. seeking to find the one who committed the murder. and children of the same mother would have been born to us.(285) . if he should be known to me and share in my hearth among my family. whether he worked alone or evaded us with accomplices. from all land(240) over which I hold power and the throne. nor make him partner in prayers to the gods or sacrifices. But to you other people of Cadmus. and before him Cadmus and Agenor. But even if this problem were not put before us by god. All these things I charge you to complete. whoever he is. and for this land. on my behalf and on the god’s. kings of old.(275) son of Polydorus. may Justice and all the gods stay with you always as your ally. fruitless and godless. as this man is the source of our pollution. I decree that no one shall receive him or speak to him. nor children from their wives. for Labdacus’ son. nor allow to him holy water.(255) And I pray. And so I myself am become an ally(250) both to the god and the man who died. that he wear out his unlucky life as badly as he himself is bad.(265) Now. so see this through. as if for my own father.
(315) both what can be learned and what is unspeakable. for already those men lead hither the godlike seer. for I sent two guides after Creon mentioned him. I think.(300) even this I have done. but no man can compel the gods when they are unwilling. CHORUS: There are still other reports. . my lord. to say whoever has done this thing. ought to be said. But it is the task of the one who sent it.(305) CHORUS: It is said he died at the hands of bandits. For neither did I kill nor am I able to show the killer.(295) do not fail to say them also. OEDIPUS: But to a man who does not shrink from doing(310) the thing.(290) OEDIPUS: You have spoken justly. but no one sees the one who saw. in whom alone of men lives the truth. who grasp all things.CHORUS: Just as you adjured me under a curse. from him one investigating this might learn the wisest things. OEDIPUS: And if there are matters tertiary to it.] OEDIPUS: O Tiresias. hearing such curses as yours he will not remain here. [Enter Tiresias. but things which. though mute and old… OEDIPUS: What’s this? I will investigate any story. led by guides. CHORUS: But if he has any fear at all. CHORUS: I would say things secondary to this. Phoebus. OEDIPUS: But this has not been neglected! No. CHORUS: I know that my lord Tiresias most always sees the same as my lord Apollo. CHORUS: But the one to accuse him is here. OEDIPUS: So I have heard. and it is only surprising that he is not already here. a word will not be frightening. so shall I speak.
even if you cannot see.(320) For Phoebus. and since I would not suffer the same thing… OEDIPUS: No. save yourself and the city. but I shall never reveal my own troubles.(350) TIRESIAS: I cause no pain for you or myself. OEDIPUS: . Why do you vainly seek this? For you can learn nothing from me. if you have not heard this also from the messengers. OEDIPUS: You speak neither clearly nor helpfully(340) to this city. grudging nothing from the speech of birds or something known from another sort of divination. if you guard your thoughts. and save me. and ward off all the pollution(330) from the dead man. OEDIPUS: What are you saying? You will not explain what you understand. and we find. don’t hold back what you know. OEDIPUS: What’s this? How dispiritedly you have come! TIRESIAS: Send me home. by the gods. you still understand what sickness plagues our city. alas! How terrible to know when it does not help the knower. TIRESIAS: For I see that your words come at the wrong time. Therefore.both of heaven and treading the earth. if you will yield to me. for you will bear your lot easily and I mine. and so I shall not say yours. for knowing this(335) well I let it slip—I should not have come here. you alone are our savior and defender. lord. when all of us as suppliants bow down before you. but rather intend to betray us and destroy the city. which raised you. in response to our question said relief from this sickness would only come if we should discover and punish well the murderers of Laius or send them forth(325) as fugitives from this land.(345) TIRESIAS: None of you understand. TIRESIAS: Alas. We are in your hands. and to help a man from troubles when you have the power is the sweetest of labors.
(360) OEDIPUS: Why not. that I may learn more. I would think the deed yours alone. if you wish. too. but your own. I don’t know what you mean.(375) OEDIPUS: Who told you to say this? It is no prophecy! TIRESIAS: You did! For you forced me to speak unwillingly! OEDIPUS: What do you mean? Speak again. OEDIPUS: You’ll not rejoice to have said these evils twice.You worst of wicked men! You would anger a stone! Will you reveal nothing. for I hold the potent truth. even though you did not kill with your own hands. . But if you could see. OEDIPUS: Did you throw out this word so boldly? And where do you think you will escape it? TIRESIAS: I have escaped it. I’ll pass over none of what I understand. but instead show yourself unmovable and impractical?(355) TIRESIAS: You have found fault with my anger. but blamed me. At these things. living within you. since I am so angry. had your hand in this deed and did it. words with which you dishonor the city? TIRESIAS: It will end the same. though I hide it in silence. you did not see. TIRESIAS: Didn’t understand before? Or do you test me? OEDIPUS: No. OEDIPUS: Indeed. Explain again. TIRESIAS: Really? I say to you: Abide by that decree you made earlier. then.(380) TIRESIAS: I say that you slew the man whose slayer you seek. OEDIPUS: Who could hear such words and not grow angry. since you are the unholy polluter of this land. tell me what will come anyway? TIRESIAS: I should explain no further. and from this day address(370) neither these men here nor me. rage as much as your heart is able. Know that I think(365) you.
OEDIPUS: O wealth and power and skill reaching(400) beyond skill. but not for you. who sees clearly only for profit. this tricky beggar. the trusted Creon. engaging this craftily-working wizard. it will be said in vain. for fate will not befall you at my doing. OEDIPUS: Did Creon invent all this. which soon every man here will hurl at you. TIRESIAS: You are truly pathetic. .TIRESIAS: Should I now say more. who works to see this done. my friend from the beginning. knowing some clue(415) from birds or gods.(405) beguiles me and secretly desires to oust me. in a much-envied life how much resentment gathers up inside you. to anger you further? OEDIPUS: Whatever you deem best. instead I came along. Apollo is enough. you never said how the citizens might be freed? Even though the riddle could not be solved by the first man who met it. OEDIPUS: You live in one single night. but you on yourself. which the city put into my hands as a gift. OEDIPUS: Do you really think you can say this unpunished? TIRESIAS: If there is any strength in the truth. so that you can never harm me or any other who sees the light. TIRESIAS: I say that you secretly have lived most foully(385) with those who should be most dear. not something sought. when the singing hound was here. or someone else? TIRESIAS: Creon is no burden on you. But you did not come forth with this. So tell me.(395) TIRESIAS: No. if for the sake of this realm. when are you the wise seer?(410) How is it that. too. hurling these insults. but is blind when it comes to skill. You don’t have this. nor do you see to what extent of evil you have come. but required prophecy.(390) since you are blind in your ears and mind and eyes. OEDIPUS: There is.
For I am no slave to you. Striking you from both sides the terrible hounds of your mother’s and father’s curse will drive you from this land. but if you were not so old. both under the earth and on it. there is not one sadder than you. thinking to stand beside Creon’s throne.(420) I think you both—you and the one who framed these things— will regret your urge to cleanse the land. or I would hardly have sent for you. CHORUS: To us it seems that both this man’s words and your own. for of all mortals who will be destroyed(450) root and branch. Go ahead—insult Creon and this mouth of mine. OEDIPUS: Am I to tolerate hearing this from this man? No. Only this: how best we may fulfill the god’s instructions.(455) OEDIPUS: I did not know what nonsense you would speak. for I. if you had not called me. Oedipus. since you reproach me as blind: You. no proper harbor(445) after such good sailing before! Nor do you perceive the multitude of other evils.the idiot Oedipus! I stopped her. TIRESIAS: Even though you are a tyrant. too. not learning from birds. working from intellect. What place will not be harbor to your shouting? What Cithaeron will not echo back your cries. have the right to speech. The very man you’re trying to overthrow. to hell with him! No! Turn around quickly and head back home. but to Loxias. which will make you the equal of your children. nor where you live. you’d learn now what such words earn. even though you see clearly.(435) Do you know your true descent? And secretly you are an enemy to your own kin. when you truly understand that wedding? You sailed home into it. TIRESIAS: I would not have come here. then you will be blind. I must at least be granted an equal reply.(430) at all.(440) though you see well enough now. nor with whom you dwell. I will reply. so I will not be written off as Creon’s client. do not see the scope of your evil. far away from here. were said in anger.(425) But we must not dwell on such things. .
OEDIPUS: How riddling and foolish is all you say! TIRESIAS: Then you of all people should understand it. tapping it with his staff. you will find me great. He will be revealed to live with his children(480) as brother and father both.TIRESIAS: Men like myself are born. that doesn’t matter.(470) not fearing your face. that man is here. OEDIPUS: Yes.(465) OEDIPUS: But if I saved this city. I say to you: That man. Should you find that I am lying. soon he will be(475) revealed a native Theban. you will prove I have no skill at prophecy. for blind instead of seeing. stronger than swift-footed horses. Go inside and consider this. TIRESIAS: Then I will leave. and to his parents he is both his wife’s son and lord and his father’s fellow-sower and slayer. fools. TIRESIAS: I will leave after I have said what I came to say. boy. though he will not be happy to learn it. a beggar instead of rich he will travel foreign earth. has destroyed you. You. go! When you are here. but to the parents who bore you we seem wise. you are in the way. TIRESIAS: This same stroke.(485) [Exeunt omnes except Chorus] CHORUS: Str. . An immigrant in theory. lead me home. for you cannot destroy me. 1Who was it the oracle-speaking rock of Delphi saw committing the most unspeakable acts with red hands?(490) Now. whom you have long sought. to your eyes. however. OEDIPUS: To whom? Wait! Who on earth are my parents?(460) TIRESIAS: This very day will sire you and destroy you. OEDIPUS: With these same taunts you now hurl. but rushing off you cannot pain us further. threatening him and naming as the murderer of Laius.
(505) yet they forever hover. Ant. there is no sure rule that a seer’s opinion(525) counts more than mine. never would I(530) agree when men are speaking slanders. living alone.(495) the terrible. with miserable foot. no.(500) For he wanders through the wild wood and up to caves like a bull upon the rocks. terribly does the wise bird-interpreter shake me. For in arms against him leaps the son of Zeus with fire and lightning and. which I could use as proof or trust as touchstone to go against the public fame of Oedipus as I seek to help the Labdacids(520) in the undiscovered murder. For never have I learned that any quarrel lay between the Labdacids and the son of Polybus. therefore(535) by the judgment of my mind never will he merit suspicion. Ant. though a man may surpass wisdom with his own wisdom.he must deftly move his foot in flight. seeking to escape the prophecies of the prophetic navel of the world. I can neither approve nor deny.] . miserable. seeing neither here not in the future. following after him. unerring Furies. 1For. among men. and he was seen wise and found friendly to the city. 2But. until I see an account confirmed. recently from snowy Parnassus shone clearly the call to track by every possible method the unknown man. 2Therefore. For once the winged maiden came openly against him.(510) My heart hovers with expectation. though Zeus and Apollo know the ways of mortals. But. terribly. around him.(515) neither before nor now. living. but I am confused. Str. [Enter Creon from offstage.
not from rational thoughts. but I’m a bad student. I would not defend myself? Isn’t this venture of yours foolish.(570) for I have found you hostile and troubling to me. . a thing only captured with a mob and cash? CREON: Do you know what you should do? Hear an answer in response to your speech.] OEDIPUS: You there. although the patent murderer of this man and the manifest thief of my kingdom? Come then. if I am called base in my city.CREON: Gentlemen of the city. for its damage affects no single part of my life. so I am here. I have learned that the tyrant Oedipus has spoken terrible words against me. then learn and judge for yourself. it came quickly and pushed out in anger. CHORUS: But. while this censure did come. by the gods. say. CREON: Hear now this one thing that I came to say.(555) [Enter Oedipus from the palace. unable(540) to bear it. how did you come here? Or do you have so much daring that you approach my roof. OEDIPUS: You’re a clever speaker. CREON: Did he make this accusation of me with eyes set straight and from his right mind? CHORUS: I don’t know. when I learned. to hunt tyranny(565) without wealth or friends. If in our present distress he thinks he has suffered at my hands. but I do not know why. for what rulers do I do not see. CREON: Was it said that won over by advice(550) of mine the seer uttered false words? CHORUS: He said these things. then I have no desire for long life if I must bear this reputation. base even by my friends.(545) rather the greatest part of it. did you think me a fool(560) or coward that you would weave these schemes? That I would not discover this deed of yours creeping forth in treachery or.
OEDIPUS: How long a time has passed since Laius… CREON: Did what deed? I do not understand. you are a madman!(575) OEDIPUS: If you think a man who does his kinsman ill will not pay the price. OEDIPUS: Did you or did you not persuade me that I must(580) send a man for the reverend seer? CREON: Even now I hold the same opinion. but tell me what suffering you had at my hands. then. how could we not? Yet we heard nothing. CREON: If you think that stubbornness is of value apart from reason. was this seer in business at that time? CREON: Just as wise and revered as he is today. conquered by death?(585) CREON: Many long years have been measured out since then.(595) OEDIPUS: There is one thing you could say with comprehension… CREON: What is it? If I know. CREON: I understand you think these things legitimate. you are a fool.OEDIPUS: ‘This one thing’ should not be that you are not false. OEDIPUS: … wanders invisible. I prefer to keep quiet in matters when I don’t comprehend them. OEDIPUS: . OEDIPUS: Did he say anything about me at the time? CREON: Never when I stood near and listened.(590) OEDIPUS: Did you not hold an inquiry for the killer? CREON: We held one. OEDIPUS: How. I will not deny it. OEDIPUS: Next. did this wise man not tell you anything? CREON: I don’t know.
But I am no lover of such schemes. anyway. then. if you catch me plotting something with the seer. for it’s here you are proved a bad friend. but I(600) would learn from you. with mere suspicion. don’t blame me just like that. but if I myself were ruler. Now I can be with anyone. equal with you both? OEDIPUS: Indeed. How could I exchange this life for the other? An evil mind(625) could not reason fairly. as you now ask from me. How then could tyranny be sweeter to me than trouble-free rule and sovereignty? In no way will you find me so deceived(620) that I require fair things that hold no profit. if he could have the same power? And so I myself was not born preferring to be tyrant rather than do a tyrant’s acts. nor was any other who has good sense. did he say that the death of Laius was my work? CREON: If he says that. CREON: Am I not. if he did not meet with you. I am their whole path to success. nor would I ever support it even if another did the deed. then he himself knows. but with two. the third. Then. I’d do much against my will. if I have(630) reported them correctly. CREON: Do you grant equal rule of this land to her?(605) OEDIPUS: All that she desires she has from me. don’t kill me with one vote. For now I have(615) everything from you without fear. then—are you still married to my sister? OEDIPUS: There is no denial of your question. . all salute me. CREON: Well. mine and yours. CREON: Not if you would reckon with yourself as I do! Consider this first: Would anyone choose(610) to rule with fear rather than to sleep untrembling. But. And this will be the proof of it: go to Pytho and learn the oracles.For whom. OEDIPUS: Learn away! For I will not be caught as slayer. Now those wanting something from you call on me.
(650) OEDIPUS: You speak neither to concede nor to persuade? CREON: For I see well that you do not understand. since time alone shows that a man is just. CREON: What do you want? To cast me from this land? OEDIPUS: Hardly—I want you to die. though.For it is not just either to randomly(635) consider wicked men good or the good wicked. these things will be accomplished.(645) But if I wait in silence. I think that casting off a good friend is equal even to throwing out one’s own dear life. with whom you ought to settle this present quarrel. CHORUS: He spoke as one should to a man worried he will fall. Jocasta. OEDIPUS: I understand my own affairs well enough. not flee. city! CREON: The city is mine.] . not as his deeds. not yours alone!(660) CHORUS: Stop. at just the right moment. my lord. too. for quick thinkers are not safe ones. CREON: You are the form of jealousy. but my mistakes. CREON: Not if ruled badly! OEDIPUS: O city. I must also counter-plot swiftly. [Enter Jocasta from the palace.(640) but you might learn he is bad in a single day. CREON: You must know mine equally well. you will surely know these things. coming from the house to you. In time. OEDIPUS: Not when they are false!(655) CREON: Do you understand nothing? OEDIPUS: Yet. there must be rule. my lords! I see. OEDIPUS: Whenever someone swiftly moves secret plots against me.
CHORUS: Never should you cast out a friend who is bound with an oath. if I have this in mind! But for me. but die accursed. and you.(675) JOCASTA: By the gods. CREON: May I live no more. unhappy men. Oedipus. believe this. CREON: Sister. judges terrible things for me. respecting this oath to the gods most of all. my lady. I caught him basely conspiring against me with evil craft. if I have done against you any of what you accuse me. choosing two evils:(670) to forsake my fatherland or to die. this husband of yours. return home. Str.JOCASTA: Why. you seek either(690) my destruction or exile from this land. then me and these who are here with you. CHORUS: No. for. with only the charge of obscure words. by the foremost of all the gods. the worst fate. CHORUS: Yield to these wishes and thoughts. OEDIPUS: Know well that when you seek this.(685) OEDIPUS: Then tell me why. I pray. Creon. do you stir up this unwelcome revolution of the tongue? Aren’t you(665) ashamed to stir private evils when the land is so sick? Come inside. the dying land eats away(695) . dishonored. OEDIPUS: Do you know what you seek? CHORUS: I do. my lord. don’t make this foolish grief into something big. Oedipus.(680) OEDIPUS: What would you have me yield? CHORUS: Respect a man who never before was foolish and now is powerful from his oath. OEDIPUS: I concede this. the Sun! May I perish godless and friendless.
set her upright again. when my dear country was lost in troubles. but just in their eyes. become once more our guide to better things!(725) JOCASTA: . JOCASTA: From both of them? CHORUS: Yes. that it should stay departed.(710) CHORUS: Suspicion through unknown words came. But now. who. and severe when you pass from anger. He will be hated wherever he goes. OEDIPUS: Will you not let me be and go away?(705) CREON: I’ll go. [Exit Creon offstage. OEDIPUS: Then let him go. CREON: You are clearly hateful in yielding. For I pity your speech. CHORUS: Lady. dishonored. what was the cause?(715) CHORUS: It has done enough to me.] Ant. JOCASTA: But. trying to ease and blunt my anger? CHORUS: My lord. if I forsake you. since it is piteous. helpless in rational thought. finding you ignorant. if this fight between you two will join itself to our old problems. despite your good intentions. OEDIPUS: Do you see where you’ve gotten.(720) but know that I am mad.(700) not his. and even an unjust word can bite. enough when the land already suffers so. why do you hesitate to take this man inside the house? JOCASTA: I would learn what has befallen.at my ill-starred heart. since I must either die or be driven by force from this land. But personalities like yours are justly painful to themselves. I’ve said it not only once.
for whatever the god requires. whoever was born to him from me. but from his servants —(740) that death would come to him from his child. since regarding his own affairs. what problem puts you in so much anger! OEDIPUS: Since I respect you. JOCASTA: You now. And so Apollo brought about neither that he slay his father nor that Laius suffer the terrible thing he feared from his child.(745) when that man. A prophecy came to Laius once—I won’t say from Apollo himself. how my soul wanders. free yourself from these matters. JOCASTA: Speak. my lady. if you will explain the quarrel clearly. or learning from hearsay? OEDIPUS: He sent that criminal seer. tell me also. how my mind shakes me!(755) JOCASTA: What care compels you to say such a thing? OEDIPUS: I thought I heard you say this: that Laius was cut down where the three wagon-roads meet. some foreign brigands slew him where the three wagon-roads meet.(750) Such things the speeches of seers predict. I shall tell a quick tale to prove my words. my wife. JOCASTA: Knowing this for himself. OEDIPUS: And where is the place where he suffered this?(760) . sent him in another’s hands into the wild of the mountain. you should ignore. nor has it changed at all. more than them. my lord. just as the report is.By the gods. Yet three days had not passed from the birth of my child. I shall speak of Creon and what he plots against me. But then. he keeps his tongue unstained.(735) listen to me and learn why nothing mortal can show you anything of prophecy. OEDIPUS: Hearing you just now. JOCASTA: So it was announced.(730) OEDIPUS: He said I was the murderer of Laius. he himself will easily reveal. binding his ankles together.
his hair just sprinkled with white like snow. so that . For when he returned from there and saw you holding power and Laius lost. why have you willed me to do this? JOCASTA: What is it. that grips your heart? OEDIPUS: Do not question me further.JOCASTA: The land is called Phocis. OEDIPUS: Did he go with a small escort. Oedipus. JOCASTA: Though I still tremble. my lady? JOCASTA: A servant. if you tell me one thing further. OEDIPUS: And does he chance to still be at the palace?(785) JOCASTA: No. he grasped my hand and beseeched me to send him to the country to tend the flocks. or having a large bodyguard.(775) You will prove it. I shall speak what you ask me. OEDIPUS: Alas! Already matters are clear! Who was it who announced these matters to you. and a split road leads to it both from Delphi and from Daulia. my lord! OEDIPUS: I am terribly afraid the prophet can see.(780) and a single chariot that carried Laius. among them a herald. OEDIPUS: And how long has passed since these things happened? JOCASTA: It was announced in the city just before you took the rule of this land. alas! It seems that I have just cast myself unknowing under terrible curses! JOCASTA: Why say that? I tremble to look at you. OEDIPUS: Alas. how old was he? JOCASTA: Tall. indeed. but tell me: What did Laius look like.(765) OEDIPUS: O Zeus. as befits a prince? JOCASTA: There were five men in all. who returned the sole survivor.(770) though his figure was not far from yours.
(805) but not worthy. a herald and a man riding there(830) . but still it chafed me always. to take even greater grace than this. awful things— that I must sleep with my mother. for the rumor spread far. I heard and fled. JOCASTA: But he will come! Now. OEDIPUS: How quickly could he return to us here? JOCASTA: He could be here now! But why do you order this? OEDIPUS: I fear myself. before chance befell me. lest I have(795) said too much. That day I tried to hold in my anger. for he was worthy. but the next day I went home and asked(810) my mother and father. At a banquet a man overwhelmed by drink called me a fraud in whom I claimed for my father. and that I would bring to light a brood unbearable(820) for men to see. I shall speak the truth. I was thought the greatest of the citizens there. although a slave. I rejoiced with them both at this. I deserve to learn what holds so badly for you. Unknown to my mother and father I set out(815) to Delphi.(825) In my travels I came to that place in which you say that your king was lost. and that I must be the slayer of the father who sired me. but telling me other terrible. And to you. lady. When traveling near that very triple road.(790) This I did. henceforth to share with Corinth only the stars. my lord. and they angrily treated the insult as the speech of a drunkard. and Phoebus sent me away as unworthy of the answers I had sought.he would be far from the sight of this city. however. and so I wish to see him. at least. lady. of my energy. worthy of marvel. OEDIPUS: Nor will you be deprived. my mother Merope of the line of Dorus. when I am gone so far into expectations. For how could I speak to one(800) more important than you as I meet such fortune? My father is Polybus of Corinth. where I would never see completed the disgrace of those evil oracles of mine.
(855) judging these things. or I must take my mother in marriage and kill my father Polybus.(835) when he saw.(840) I killed them all. but I would rather be blotted out from humanity before(860) I saw this stain of my doom arrive upon me. my lord. JOCASTA: What special tale did you hear from me?(870) OEDIPUS: . have hope. say truly in my case that they come from a cruel divinity? Never. Am I so evil?(850) Not entirely unholy? If I must flee.in a chariot. nor anyone address. like the man you described. lying on his back. encountered me. when he appears? OEDIPUS: I shall tell you. and the old man. the man whom no man. for if he is found saying the same tale as you. the herdsman. I shall have escaped this woe. Who would not. never may I see this day. this much of hope is left to me: only to await that man. at once thrown out of the car. watched me as I passed the chariot and struck me on the head with the two-pronged goad. but all must cast from their house? And no other called down such curses on me than myself! I even stain the dead man’s bed with the hands at which he perished.(845) may receive at home. o holy reverence of the gods. CHORUS: Although these things trouble us. turning me off the road. foreign or citizen. who raised and sired me. But he more than paid for it and soon was struck by the scepter from this very hand. But if that stranger had some connection with Laius.(865) JOCASTA: And what do you want of him. then in my flight I may neither see my own kin nor step inside my fatherland. who would be more wretched than this man you see? What man would be more hateful to God. OEDIPUS: Indeed. Both the one in front and the old man himself drove me from the road with force. In my anger I struck the driver. until you learn from the one who was present.
(890) [Exeunt omnes. not even thus. But even if he does alter something from his previous story. he still says the same number. their only father Olympus. JOCASTA: Yet. born(895) in heaven above. I pray that God will never end the struggle that is good for the city. Ant. send someone to fetch the servant. 1Audacity sires the tyrant—audacity. I did not kill him. my lord. who does not grow old. scaling the highest eaves(905) rushes into precipitous necessity where it suffers from its ill-placed foot. Loxias said must die at the hands of my child. then. indeed. nor does forgetfulness ever lull them to sleep. will he bring to(880) light Laius’ killer truly accomplished. if filled up rashly with all excess. a lone traveler. not I alone. and don’t neglect it. for I would do nothing but that it is your wish. for the city heard these things.(900) In them is a great god. for which lofty laws are ordained. Yet my poor boy never slew him. but let us go inside the house. 1If only fate may find me still acting with reverent holiness in words and all my deeds. And so I would not look to prophecies. nevertheless. neither timely nor useful. JOCASTA: And soon I shall. know that his account stood thus.(910) I will never cease clinging to God as my protector. and he cannot take it back now. no mortal form of men bore them.(875) then already this deed comes down upon me. for surely one man could not be equal to many.You said he reported that brigands killed Laius.(885) not here or anywhere else. But if he clearly names a single man. If. but rather perished himself long before.] CHORUS: Str. OEDIPUS: You reason well. but. who. .
since now we are all afraid. o powerful one.(930) But. strangers. for you are nearest. indeed.] JOCASTA: Lords of this land. faith wanders. if he speaks his fears.(935) Apollo does not seem to be honored.(950) [Enter Messenger from offstage. where lies the house of King Oedipus? Or. deathless empire! For already the old prophecies of Laius are waning and being set aside. who rule all things. Zeus.] MESSENGER: Could I learn from you.(915) let a bad fate take him.(920) What man can protect himself. taking in my hands these wreaths and offerings of incense. 2No longer will I worship(925) at the inviolate navel of the world. lost. but whoever talks has him.(940) For Oedipus unduly twists his spirit with every sort of grief. nor revering the seats of the holy gods. 2But if someone goes disdainful in hands or speech. or if he touches untouchable things in his folly. tell me where he himself is. warding away the shafts of anger when such things happen? For if deeds like this are honored. the wages of unlucky insolence. not like a man of reason. nor at Abae. nor ever in the Olympian shrine. why must I dance? Ant. to you. if you are correctly called that. who is pilot of our ship. Lycean Apollo. unless he reaps his profit justly and retreats from impious acts. unless these events are made manifestly clear to all mortals. . [Enter Jocasta from the palace. seeing him so shaken. may they not elude you and your eternal. so that you will render us unpolluted. And so. if you know. since my assurances achieve nothing. the thought came to me to supplicate the shrines of the gods. judging new matters by the old.(945) I have come as a suppliant with these tokens. nor fearing Justice.Str.
how could you not? But you may also mourn. JOCASTA: But why? Does old Polybus no longer rule there? MESSENGER: No.(980) OEDIPUS: But who is he. why did you send for me to come here from the house? JOCASTA: Listen to this man. won’t you go inside as quick as you can. he himself is within. [Enter Oedipus from the palace. stranger. since you are his wedded wife. and whence have you come? MESSENGER: From Corinth.(960) MESSENGER: Good tidings for your house and your lord. The word I shall speak—at first you might rejoice. and now(975) this very man has died by chance and not by him. JOCASTA: What’s this? What twofold power do you hold?(965) MESSENGER: The people of the land of the Isthmus make him their king. but explain what you have come needing and what you wish to tell him. and tell the master of these things? O prophecies of the gods. JOCASTA: What did you say? Polybus is dead. and why would he speak to me? JOCASTA: . and discover in his words where the august prophecies of God have come. JOCASTA: What tidings are these.] OEDIPUS: My dearest Jocasta. indeed. JOCASTA: And likewise to you also.CHORUS: This is his roof. now and always. as it is announced there. which you earn through your welcome words. stranger. my lady. I should die here. old man?(970) MESSENGER: If I do not speak the truth.(955) MESSENGER: Then may there be happiness to you. JOCASTA: Maid. where are you? This man Oedipus has long feared and fled lest he kill him. Here is his wife and mother of his children. for death holds him in the tomb. my wife.
toss none of these matters in your heart. and I am here.He is from Corinth. my wife. it seems. for many mortals already have lain with their mothers in dreams. deceased. OEDIPUS: What’s this. Do not worry you will wed your mother. JOCASTA: . the one for whom these things are nothing bears life easiest. Polybus has taken those prophecies as they are—worthless—with him and lies in Hades. but has perished. or meeting some disease? MESSENGER: A small turn of the scale lays old bodies to rest. and by the long measuring of his years. but since she lives. OEDIPUS: Destroyed by disease. but I was led by my fear.(995) without touching a spear—unless somehow he perished from longing for me. JOCASTA: Now. announcing that your father Polybus is no more. and thus died by me. the poor man. then. would anyone look to the prophesying hearth of Pytho or to the shrieking birds above. under whose guidance I was to kill my own father? But. MESSENGER: If I must state this exactly to you first. I must fear. But still. Rather.(990) OEDIPUS: Well. if my mother were dead. OEDIPUS: By treachery.(1010) OEDIPUS: All these matters you would explain well. however prettily you speak. when there is no clear foresight?(1005) It’s best to live at random. however one can. MESSENGER: Yes. JOCASTA: Did I not predict it thus earlier?(1000) OEDIPUS: You did.(985) know well that the man is gone. well! Why. stranger? You yourself tell me. OEDIPUS: And how can I not dread my mother’s bed? JOCASTA: Why should a person fear when the ways of fortune are supreme. he died and sleeps below the earth.
(1035) OEDIPUS: How’s that. MESSENGER: Dreading those things. but still(1025) your parents’ eyes are the sweetest thing to see. you clearly do not know what you do.Surely your father’s tomb is also a bright sign? OEDIPUS: Bright. with whom Polybus lived. old man! MESSENGER: Why. I agree. so that when you returned home I would have done well by you! OEDIPUS: But I will never go where my parents are! MESSENGER: O child. MESSENGER: Tell me—or is it lawful that another know?(1020) OEDIPUS: Certainly: Loxias once told me that I must sleep with my own mother and shed paternal blood with my own hands. then. since indeed I come in good will?(1030) OEDIPUS: Indeed. you would take deserved grace from me. my lord. then. old man. stranger. MESSENGER: I came for this very purpose. teach me! MESSENGER: If it is because of this you flee your home… OEDIPUS: I dread that Phoebus accomplish these things for me. old man? By the gods.(1015) MESSENGER: And who is this woman who so frightens you? OEDIPUS: Merope.(1040) . MESSENGER: But what in her moves you to such fear? OEDIPUS: A terrible prophecy sent by God. have I not freed you from this fear. old sir. you are exiled from that place? OEDIPUS: And wishing not to murder my father. Thus for a long time I have kept Corinth far from me—and prosperously. but my fear is of her who lives. has ever been my fear. MESSENGER: Or that you might take pollution from your parents? OEDIPUS: This very thing.
OEDIPUS: But you—had you purchased me or found me by chance? MESSENGER: I found you in the woody glens of Cithaeron.MESSENGER: Don’t you know you may justly fear nothing? OEDIPUS: How so. no more than I! OEDIPUS: But then…why did he call me his child? MESSENGER: Know that he took you as a gift from my own arms. OEDIPUS: Such terrible disgrace I took from my cradle. OEDIPUS: What misfortune was mine when you found me? MESSENGER: Your ankles should testify to that. OEDIPUS: Why were you traveling in that place? MESSENGER: At that time I had the care of mountain flocks. OEDIPUS: And still he loved me greatly. your savior. no more than from me. OEDIPUS: Oh.(1055) OEDIPUS: Why.(1045) OEDIPUS: How can my father be equal to nothing? MESSENGER: That man did not beget you. a nomad for hire? MESSENGER: And also at that time. though not his own?(1050) MESSENGER: His former childlessness persuaded him. if I am the child of those parents? MESSENGER: Because Polybus is nothing to you by birth! OEDIPUS: How can you say this? Did Polybus not sire me? MESSENGER: You have nothing from him. you were a shepherd. my child. MESSENGER: Such that you were named from this misfortune. why must you mention that old affliction?(1060) MESSENGER: I freed you when your feet were pierced at the ankles. .
but Jocasta here could say these things best of all. do not go after this! I grieve enough. I will not discover my birth. OEDIPUS: And is this man still alive. JOCASTA: No. whom just now we summoned? Is he the one this man speaks of? JOCASTA: What does it matter whom he means? Ignore it. OEDIPUS: Who was he? Could you describe him clearly? MESSENGER: I believe he was called one of Laius’ people. obey me. Do not do this. another shepherd gave you to me.OEDIPUS: Tell me. . so I could see him? MESSENGER: You who live here would know that better than I. didn’t find me yourself? MESSENGER: No. OEDIPUS: The former king of this very land?(1070) MESSENGER: Exactly—he was a herdsman of that man.(1065) OEDIPUS: You took me from someone. from my mother or father? MESSENGER: I don’t know. you will not be proved base.(1080) OEDIPUS: Lady. for even if I am revealed a slave three generations back. he who gave you to me would know this. OEDIPUS: Does anyone standing here now know the herdsman of whom he speaks? You might(1075) have seen him in the fields or even here! Tell me. OEDIPUS: It is impossible that when I have found(1085) such signs. OEDIPUS: Cheer up. Don’t think about it—it will all end in vain. I pray. by the gods! If indeed you care for your own life. do you know that man. by god.(1090) JOCASTA: All the same. for now it is time for this to be learned at last! CHORUS: I know of none other than the one from the fields whom you wanted to see earlier.
to you also may these things be pleasing. Phoebus. made him grow. may you never know who you are!(1095) OEDIPUS: Will someone go and bring the shepherd to me? Let this one rejoice in her own rich birth. as nurse and mother. who gives good things. [Exit Jocasta into the palace. alas—unhappy man! This alone can I say to you. though it be small.] CHORUS: Why ever did your wife go away. But I deem myself the child of Chance.(1100) Oedipus. Perhaps the lord of Cyllene .If I am a prophet and wise with intelligence.Who bore you.(1110) Being born what I am.(1105) she is troubled by this low birth of mine. which of the long-lived maids(1125) was the mountain-ranging bride of Pan? for to him all the beast-pasturing highlands are dear. the Months. JOCASTA: Yet I understand it well—what I say is best. child. OEDIPUS: Let it all burst out. OEDIPUS: What you say is best has long annoyed me. if it must! As for me.(1115) by heaven. She is my mother. and I will not be dishonored. o Cithaeron. for you(1120) have served our kings! Hail. I wish to know my stock. stirred by wild grief? I fear that something evil will burst out from that silence.OEDIPUS: I cannot be persuaded not to learn this clearly. But she. JOCASTA: Unlucky man. CHORUS: Str. JOCASTA: Alas. you will surely know at tomorrow’s full moon that you are the fellow countryman of Oedipus and. Ant. since a woman is proud of such things. I could never be another. and nothing else ever after. have seen me both small and great. We will sing and dance for you. and my brothers. so I should seek out my descent.
or the Bacchic god who dwells on mountain tops. sometimes places near it. For measured by his great old age he could be this man. I think I see(1135) the shepherd we have long been seeking. for if any man were Laius’ trusted shepherd.(1150) OEDIPUS: In what regions did you live most of the time? SHEPHERD: Sometimes Cithaeron.] CHORUS: Yes. is this the man you meant? MESSENGER: That very man you see. the Corinthian stranger. but you should have surer knowledge than I. but I clearly remember him. with whom he plays most of all. and I know well that . is nothing strange.(1140) [Enter Shepherd. aged sirs. master.(1145) OEDIPUS: You there. I recognize him. not purchased. it’s him. old man. look at me and say whatever I ask you: Were you once Laius’ man? SHEPHERD: Yes. OEDIPUS: What work and what livelihood was your care? SHEPHERD: For most of my life I have followed flocks. foundling. OEDIPUS: First I will ask you. as you’ve seen the man before. and moreover those leading him I know as my own servants.(1130) will accept you. MESSENGER: This. but born to his house. Know it clearly. from one of the glancing-eyed nymphs. OEDIPUS: If I must surmise the identity of one I’ve never met. his slave. OEDIPUS: Did you see this man at some point and know him? SHEPHERD: See him doing what? Who are you talking about? OEDIPUS: This one who’s here! Have you ever met him?(1155) SHEPHERD: Not such that my memory quickly answers yes. at least.
(1185) SHEPHERD: .he remembers when that same spot on Cithaeron he grazed with two flocks and I with one. but acts in vain. when your words deserve more reproach than him.(1160) I was his neighbor there three whole times. Then in winter I drove my flocks to the fold and he to the stables of Laius. have I done wrong? OEDIPUS: You do not discuss the child whom he researches. SHEPHERD: But what. although a long time has passed. o best of masters. six months apiece. Didn’t it happen just like I said?(1165) SHEPHERD: You speak the truth. you’ll come to that today! SHEPHERD: I will be destroyed even more if I do talk. OEDIPUS: If you’ll not speak for my favor. but I should have died that day! OEDIPUS: If you don’t talk. OEDIPUS: This man. it seems. old man. you’ll speak in pain! SHEPHERD: By the gods. from spring to autumn. is trying to stall.(1175) SHEPHERD: Because he speaks without knowing. surely you will not hurt an old man! OEDIPUS: Quickly—someone twist back this man’s arms! SHEPHERD: Unhappy me! Why? What do you desire to learn?(1180) OEDIPUS: Did you give him the child he mentioned? SHEPHERD: I did. MESSENGER: Then say now. who was so little then!(1170) SHEPHERD: Go to hell! Will you not be silent? OEDIPUS: Ah! Do not reproach him. my friend. do you remember giving me then a child to raise for myself as my foster-son? SHEPHERD: What does it matter? Why do you ask this question? MESSENGER: Here is that man.
OEDIPUS: Where did you get it? From your house or another’s? SHEPHERD: It was not mine.No. but your wife could explain the situation best. my lord. OEDIPUS: Because she gave it to you? SHEPHERD: Yes. do not inquire further!(1190) OEDIPUS: You are dead if I have to ask it again! SHEPHERD: Then…he was from the house of Laius. OEDIPUS: To what end?(1200) SHEPHERD: So that I would kill it. no! I said long ago that I did give it. master.(1210) OEDIPUS: . But he rescued him into the greatest evils. master. It seemed he would bear him away to another land. but still it must be heard!(1195) SHEPHERD: He was said to be the child of that man himself. then. did you entrust him to this old man? SHEPHERD: Out of pity. know that you were born cursed. I am about to say something terrible. OEDIPUS: And I to hear it. OEDIPUS: From one of the citizens here. but I took it from another. OEDIPUS: Its mother dared this? SHEPHERD: Fearing evil prophecies. his home. or one born to his family? SHEPHERD: Oh. OEDIPUS: A slave.(1205) OEDIPUS: Why. and from what house? SHEPHERD: By the gods. OEDIPUS: What were they? SHEPHERD: That he would kill his parents. For if you are who he says.
your fate. [Enter Servant from the palace. living with them. both the siring and sired. famous Oedipus. suffering Oedipus. more the paradigm of life’s reversals? Oh.(1235) Str. But to speak the truth. you alone sufficed to lie(1240) as son. your self. 2But now. if only. and bridegroom. could your paternal furrows bear you in such long silence? Ant. let me see the last of you now. because of you I could breath again and because of you I sink my eyes into sleep. how was it. if only we had never set eyes on you!(1250) My grief is like a libation poured from my mouth. Since that time he has been called my king and beyond all men was honored. Light. Alas. poor man.Alas. ruling in glorious Thebes. the maiden with twisted talons. o Zeus. I call nothing of mortals blessed. what man wins more happiness than(1220) just its shape and the ruin when that shape collapses? With your example. more bound to toil and wild madness. how. 2All-seeing time discovered you unwilling.(1230) like a tower he stood and defended my land from death. 1He shot with unsurpassed aim and gained every kind of happiness. who could be called more wretched.] SERVANT: . It’s all come out so clearly.1Oh. I count you as worthless. killing them. alas. father. you. [Exit Oedipus into the palace. surrounded by those I ought to avoid— born from them. the generations of man— while you live. equal to nothing. o child of Laius.] CHORUS: Str.(1225) Ant.(1245) it judged long ago your marriage that is no marriage. For who. destroying the riddle-singer.
what deeds you shall see. and so we did not note her doom. as if led there by some guide. snatching at her hair with both hands.(1280) When she died. Some god led him on. mother of him and his children. to his offspring for their own evil brood. asking us to bring a sword. his wife who was no wife. and from their sockets(1290) he forced the groaning bolts and fell into the room. she called on Laius. she threw herself onto her bridal couch. of what has been done the worst pain you will avoid. but even the self-chosen of these pains will grieve you greatly. of this land always the most honored. CHORUS: O poor woman! By whatever cause? SERVANT: By herself! But. shouting terribly. She groaned over her bed. I do not know. but soon will come into the light(1260) evils both willing and unwilling. so long(1275) a corpse. When she lay(1295) . as mother. he was driven to the doors. all twisted up in a twisted noose. Then inside we saw the woman hanging. by which he himself died and left her. asking where she had gone. as much as I can remember(1270) of that poor woman’s woes you shall learn. but were looking at him. Jocasta.(1285) but a doubly-ploughed field.Gentlemen. but what will you say in addition? SERVANT: It is the fastest of words both to say and(1265) to learn: Our divine queen. Still. ranging about. for Oedipus burst in shouting. He paced back and forth. children from her child. the wretch shouted awfully and cut her down from the noose. frenzied. if you still care as kin for the house of the Labdacids. After she had gone into her chamber. When he saw her. remembering that ancient creation. For I think that neither the Danube nor Volga could wash through this house to purify all it conceals. for it was none of us men who were nearby. Bolting the doors from the inside. for you cannot see it. CHORUS: What we knew before did not fail to be grievous. is dead. where twice doomed she had born husband from husband. what deeds you shall hear. and what(1255) grief you will take upon yourselves.
now only in darkness could they see those whom they must not see. Soon you will see a sight(1325) that even his enemy would pity. it was terrible to see. but now on this one day mourning. o most terrible of all I have encountered! What mania. But he will show you also. He lacks. stood by you? What spirit(1330) leapt from beyond the highest places onto your unhappy fate? Alas. poor wretch.(1335) to learn and ponder them. all at once a dark storm of blood like hail rained down. however. not one alone. He wants to cast himself from the land and not(1320) stay at home accursed with his own curses. every way to name all evils—none have been absent. alas.(1315) CHORUS: Does the poor wretch now have some rest from evil? SERVANT: He shouts at us to open the doors and reveal to all the people of Cadmus the parricide. I cannot look at you.on the ground. these evils burst forth. In torrent together flowed the drops of blood. poor thing. disgrace. unfortunate man.(1310) evils wedded together for husband and wife. how you make me shudder and fear! . [Enter Oedipus from the palace with attendants. For he removed from her garment the golden brooches which she was wearing. in darkness could they mistake those whom they wanted to recognize. and his mother’s…what he said I will not repeat. shouting that they would not see either the evils(1300) he had suffered or the evils he had done. Repeating these things. death. many times and not once(1305) only he raised his hands and struck his eyes. for the pain is greater than he can bear. though I wish to ask many things. for the doors are opening. madness. At once his bloody eyeballs moistened his cheeks.] CHORUS: O suffering terrible for men to see. From two. Their old happiness that was before was justly called happiness. strength and a guide. he lifted them and struck the sockets of his own eyes.
I for whom no sight is sweet?(1365) CHORUS: Indeed. tending the blind man. Sorrow!(1355) For I have not missed your presence. how could you dare to put out your eyes like that? What god set you to it? Str. But no man struck me with his hand. friends. OEDIPUS: What. approaching ineffable. evil sufferings of mine. 2 OEDIPUS: Apollo. or lovable. . how you’ve pounced! CHORUS: Onto horror that can neither be heard nor viewed.(1345) Sorrow! And still more sorrow—Upon me fall together so many stinging goads and the memory of evils. it is as you say. friends? Lead me into exile quickly. driven on by a fatally favorable wind. I recognize your voice clearly. 1 OEDIPUS: Oh. but. CHORUS: And it is no wonder that in such woes you suffer doubly and doubly cry aloud. unconquered. darkness! This cloud of mine. CHORUS: O agent of terrors.(1350) Ant. abominable.(1360) who brought to pass these evil. could be worth seeing to me.OEDIPUS: Ah! Ah! How miserable is my life! Where does my pain take me? How does my voice rush about me?(1340) O doom. my friend! You are still my only companion. Str. 1 OEDIPUS: Oh. but I myself dared it. for still you remain by me. then. For why must I see.(1370) lead me away. although in darkness. my friends—these things are Apollo. completely destroyed. what word addressed to me could I hear gladly.
nor offer me further counsel. no good deed for me! For if I had died then. revealed unholy by the gods and. of Laius’ race. 2 OEDIPUS: Let him die who took off the fierce fetters. would be Oedipus’ lot.the most accursed. too. Rather if I could somehow block my hearing from the ears. Were some evil greater still than evil. I would not hold back from fully shutting off this wretched frame of mine.(1390) OEDIPUS: Do not tell me that these things were not done well. sprouting as they sprouted? Surely never to those eyes of mine! Nor the city nor citadel. how I wish I had never known you. and to the gods the most hated of men! CHORUS: Equally wretched in your mind and your misfortune. feeding off my feet. Or is the sight of my children desirable for me to see.(1385) sharing the source of those I myself sired. from which I. child of sacrilege. OEDIPUS: I’d not then be my father’s slayer. Abandoned by the gods. I would not have brought(1380) so much pain to my friends or me! CHORUS: It is my wish. nor the holy(1400) shrines of the gods. for to live(1410) . CHORUS: I do not know how to agree with your judgment. this. that it have been thus. and rescued and saved me from my death.(1405) did I intend to see them with my own eyes? Not at all. now. to those two(1395) my deeds are beyond what hanging could punish. too. nor again my poor mother. removed myself. For I don’t know with what eyes I could look and see my father when I go down to Hell. Exposing such defilement as this. nor called the groom of her whence I was born.(1375) Ant. the worst of men. myself decreeing that all expel the impious one. so that I’d be blind and hear nothing. for you are better not living than living blind.
[He addresses the attendants. and do not thus show this blight unconcealed. then revere at least the nourishing light of lord Helios. But. children of kin blood. since he alone remains to guard our land in your stead. do not fear. what deeds I was still to do! O marriage. for my evils are(1435) such that no one of men can bear but me.(1450) Take him into the house as quick as you can. do you still remember me? What deeds I performed in your presence. O three paths and hidden groves and the narrow oak coppice at the triple crossroads. Go. so that I would never reveal to men my origins? O Polybus and Corinth and my old ancestral home—(1415) so-called—in what a pretty festering of evils you brought me up! For now I find myself evil and born from evil people. since these matters are as foully said as done.(1430) by the gods. marriage. and afterwards again(1425) you harvested that same seed and revealed father-brothers. you brought me forth. brides who were wives and mothers.(1420) which drank my own blood from my father from my own hands. nor to scold you for some previous wrong. or kill me or cast me into the sea.outside comprehension of these woes would be sweet. Cithaeron! Why did you accept me? Why did you not kill me at once. if you feel no shame before the races of men. Oedipus. CREON: I have not come to mock you. CHORUS: No. quickly hide me from the sight of men somehow. [Enter Creon from offstage. and all else counted the most shameful acts by men.](1445) But you. . Creon is here. where you will never see me again. the right one to decide whether to act or advise on what you ask. which neither earth nor holy rain nor light accept.] OEDIPUS: Alas! What can I say to this man?(1440) What real faith can he have in me? For in all that went before I am found false to him. deem it worthy to touch a poor man! Yield. Oh.
they are men. which my mother and father while they lived appointed as my tomb. OEDIPUS: Then I enjoin you and make this request: to her…who is inside…bury her as you will. for my poor little girls. so that they will never lack a livelihood. may this. the worst.(1475) so that I may die as those two wished. destroy the patricide. I ask for you and not for me. rightly will you act on behalf of your own—(1470) but as for me. where we stand it is better to learn what must be done.for it is right for only blood relatives to see and hear familial evils. those two always had a share in all of it. since you’ve cheated my expectations and come as the best of men to me. for now even you should bear faith to the god. with my own famous Cithaeron. and most of all I beg you.(1455) grant me this. Worry over them. but still. OEDIPUS: By the gods. but for some dire fate. suffer me to dwell here while I live. This destiny of mine. Although this much at least I know: No disease nor anything else can kill me. me! CREON: It was said thus. my native city. Creon—don’t worry over my sons. somewhere I can avoid all mortal speech. but first I(1460) must learn from the god what must be done. but whatever I touched. let it go where it may. OEDIPUS: But his entire prophecy was made clear. wherever they may be. But. but let me to dwell in the mountains. the accursed. they’ve not so much as eaten a meal(1485) apart from me. .(1480) but for my children. CREON: Know well that I would do this.(1465) OEDIPUS: You would ask on behalf of one so wretched? CREON: Yes. CREON: What is this thing you need so greatly? OEDIPUS: Cast me immediately from this land. for I would not have been saved from death.
where he himself was sown. and he sired(1520) you in the same fount where he himself was sired.(1515) to take for himself the reproaches that will be banes for my parents and offspring alike? What evil is absent? Your father slew his father.(1510) What sort of company will you keep in town? What festivals will you attend that will not send you home in tears. nor make them party to my evils. o truly noble man.let me touch them with my hands and mourn our woes. could my hands touch them. who will he be who will run the risk. I’d think I held them as I did when I could see. Son of Menoeceus. my children. he ploughed his mother. for I am the one who prepared these things. neither seeing nor knowing was proved your father from the same place he himself sprang. children. OEDIPUS: Then may you be blessed. contemplating the bitterness of your lives. hands that brought to this sad state the once bright eyes of your begetting father. Please. although I cannot see you. your kin. the sort of life men will force you to live. do I somehow hear my two dear girls crying? Has Creon pitied me and(1495) sent to me the dearest of my offspring? Is it true? CREON: You are. for we who created them have both been destroyed.] What’s this now? By the gods. where are you? Come here. since you alone are left(1525) as father to them. Such taunts you will hear. come to these hands of mine that are siblings to yours. and for this meeting(1500) may fate guard you better than it did me! My children. [Servants lead onstage the two girls. instead of joy? When you come to the age ripe for marriage. do not allow them. but surely you must die untilled and unmarried. And I weep for you. children. knowing the joy they have long brought you. seeing how young they are(1530) . my lord!(1490) Please. and then who will marry you? There is no one.(1505) who. but pity them. to die unwed and beggars.
the power you had has not remained with you. CREON: All things are fair in time. OEDIPUS: Do you know my conditions?(1540) CREON: Speak. . who knew the famous riddle and was a most powerful man. CREON: Come. OEDIPUS: Send me from this land. noble one. just pray with me that you obtain a better life(1535) than did the father who sired you. except for you.] CHORUS: People of our country Thebes. it is necessary to call no man blessed as we await the final day. OEDIPUS: The gods hate me. as it is. I would give you so much advice.and bereft of everything. CREON: You have gone far enough in weeping. if you could understand. OEDIPUS: I will. Oh. Consent. until he has reached the limit of life and suffered nothing grievous. behold this Oedipus. I shall learn them. [Exeunt Creon and Oedipus with the attendants and children into the palace. OEDIPUS: Then lead me away. let go of the children. whose fortunes all the citizens watched with emulation. go inside. and touch me with your hand. children.(1545) OEDIPUS: Then you will do it? CREON: I’ll say only what I think. though sadly. OEDIPUS: Do not take them from me!(1550) CREON: It is not your place to decide. CREON: Then they will grant your wish.(1555) how deep the sea of dire misfortune that has taken him! Therefore. CREON: You ask me what is God’s to give.
. myself. Ruthless indeed were I and obdurate If such petitioners as you I spurned. as am I Of Zeus. latest born to Cadmus old. or where Ismenus gives his oracles by fire. Ho! aged sire. in your hands Branches of olive filleted with wool? What means this reek of incense everywhere. Thou seest how both extremes of age besiege Thy palace altars--fledglings hardly winged. To them enter OEDIPUS. and these the flower of our youth. Explain your mood and purport. I Oedipus. Storr ---------------------------------------------------------------------Dramatis Personae OEDIPUS THE PRIEST OF ZEUS CREON CHORUS OF THEBAN ELDERS TEIRESIAS JOCASTA MESSENGER HERD OF LAIUS ---------------------------------------------------------------------Thebes. as thou seest thyself.mit.edu//Sophocles/oedipus. or before Both shrines of Pallas congregate.html OEDIPUS THE KING By Sophocles Translated by F. Before the Palace of Oedipus. And greybeards bowed with years.Provided by The Internet Classics Archive. Available online at http://classics. Meanwhile. For. Oedipus. Why sit ye here as suppliants. And everywhere laments and litanies? Children. with wreathed boughs Crowd our two market-places. at their head a PRIEST OF ZEUS. and am hither come. it were not meet that I should learn From others. my sovereign lord and king. our ship of State. the common folk. priests. Is it dread Of ill that moves you or a boon ye crave? My zeal in your behalf ye cannot doubt. PRIEST Yea. See bottom for copyright. whose venerable locks Proclaim thee spokesman of this company. your world-renowned king. Suppliants of all ages are seated round the altar at the palace doors. ---------------------------------------------------------------------OEDIPUS My children.
are aptest found To furnish for the future pregnant rede. and withal Armed with his blazing torch the God of Plague Hath swooped upon our city emptying The house of Cadmus. I and these children. well wot I. If men to man and guards to guard them tail. A blight on wives in travail. ah. Him and none other. Thy happy star ascendant brought us luck. or haply known by human wit. No. Therefore ye rouse no sluggard from day-dreams. but I grieve at once Both for the general and myself and you. build our city on a rock. OEDIPUS Ah! my poor children. And first in visitations of the Gods. outtops it all. O King. find Some succor. A blight upon the grazing flocks and herds. methinks.Sore buffeted." Uplift us. but the first of men. Foundered beneath a weltering surge of blood. O Oedipus. And now. The quest that brings you hither and your need. our peerless king. here at thy hearth we sit. by a god inspired (so all men deem. How great soever yours. O let it not decline! If thou wouldst rule This land. as now thou reignest. O chief of men. Your sorrow touches each man severally. known. not as deeming thee A new divinity. A blight is on our harvest in the ear. Nor battlements nor galleys aught avail. known too well. Therefore. can no more lift her head. And testify) didst thou renew our life. yet my pain. 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. Tried counselors. and the murky realm Of Pluto is full fed with groans and tears. Ye sicken all. . whether by a voice from heaven Whispered. First in the common accidents of life. 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. better sure To rule a peopled than a desert realm. Upraise. All we thy votaries beseech thee.
Many. CREON Let me report then all the god declared. And tracked it up. I'll tell thee straight. 'Tis strange. OEDIPUS What expiation means he? What's amiss? CREON Banishment. Finding right issue. and now the god's command is plain: Punish his takers-off. even as thou speakest That shouting tells me Creon is at hand. I have sent Menoeceus' son. but never saw the man. tend to naught but good. are the tears I've wept. Thus pondering one clue of hope I caught. my children. said the god. and marvel how he fares. he's now in earshot range. But when he comes. And threaded many a maze of weary thought. And now I reckon up the tale of days Since he set forth.) My royal cousin. the miscreant thus denounced? CREON Before thou didst assume the helm of State. faint traces of a bygone crime? CREON In this land. OEDIPUS We soon shall know. or the shedding blood for blood. If I perform not all the god declares. And no more harbor an inveterate sore. What message hast thou brought us from the god? CREON Good news. King Phoebus bids us straitly extirpate A fell pollution that infests the land. (Enter CREON. How I might save the State by act or word. or with thee pass within. This stain of blood makes shipwreck of our state. PRIEST Thy words are well timed. OEDIPUS Speak before all. for e'en intolerable ills. OEDIPUS O King Apollo! may his joyous looks Be presage of the joyous news he brings! PRIEST As I surmise." . Menoeceus' child. whoe'er they be. OEDIPUS Where are they? Where in the wide world to find The far. OEDIPUS How runs the oracle? thus far thy words Give me no ground for confidence or fear. this endless tarrying. CREON If thou wouldst hear my message publicly. OEDIPUS I heard as much. to inquire Of Pythian Phoebus at his Delphic shrine. Creon. "who seeks shall find. passing strange. Who sits with folded hands or sleeps is blind. say. else his head Had scarce been crowned with berry-laden bays. OEDIPUS Whom can he mean. The sovereign of this land was Laius. CREON He fell. 'tis welcome. my consort's brother. the burden that I bear Is more for these my subjects than myself. then I were base indeed.
thou voice immortal. as is meet. For whoso slew that king might have a mind To strike me too with his assassin hand. but myself. OEDIPUS Came there no news. worthy thine too. With but a spark of hope to guide our quest. go summon hither The Theban commons. will lend my aid To avenge this wrong to Thebes and to the god. What dost thou bring me? My soul is racked and shivers with fear. (Exeunt OEDIPUS and CREON.OEDIPUS Was he within his palace. Or with the circling years renewest a penance of yore? Offspring of golden Hope. I also. no fellow-traveler To give some clue that might be followed up? CREON But one escape. who flying for dear life. . he told us. And may the god who sent this oracle Save us withal and rid us of this pest. OEDIPUS What trouble can have hindered a full quest. so he told us. Shall I expel this poison in the blood. Take hence your suppliant wands. children.) CHORUS (strophe 1) Sweet-voiced daughter of Zeus from thy gold-paved Pythian shrine Wafted to Thebes divine. Or traveling. 'tis ruin if we fail. haste ye. but he never thence returned. O tell me. these gracious words Forestall the very purpose of our suit. OEDIPUS Did any bandit dare so bold a stroke. (Exeunt PRIEST and SUPPLIANTS. Right worthy the concern Of Phoebus. Unless indeed he were suborned from Thebes? CREON So 'twas surmised. With the god's good help Success is sure. for the dead. OEDIPUS Well. Not for some far-off kinsman. children.) PRIEST Come. quit these altar stairs. or afield. hear! Hast thou some pain unknown before. when Laius met his fate? CREON Abroad. Therefore in righting him I serve myself. Up. I will start afresh and once again Make dark things clear. Healer of Delos. not one bandit but A troop of knaves. CREON Robbers. bound For Delphi. but none was found to avenge His murder mid the trouble that ensued. OEDIPUS And what was that? One clue might lead us far. let us hence. he started. When royalty had fallen thus miserably? CREON The riddling Sphinx compelled us to let slide The dim past and attend to instant needs. Could tell of all he saw but one thing sure. attacked and murdered him.
Slay him beneath thy levin bold.(antistrophe 1) First on Athene I call. ye drave From our land the fiery plague. Lady of Thebes. From that taut bow's gold string. Swifter than the Fire-God's might. O hear Let thine angel face appear! (strophe 3) And grant that Ares whose hot breath I feel. Golden child of Zeus. defend! Goddess and sister. Or Amphitrite's bed. what countless woes are mine! All our host is in decline. Slay him. whose voice is as the battle shout. (antistrophe 2) Wasted thus by death on death All our city perisheth. May turn in sudden rout. Smit by the morrow's sun Perisheth. Life on life downstriken goes. Father Zeus. If in the days of old when we nigh had perished. . None to tend or mourn is found. Swifter than the wind bird's flight. Women wail in barren throes. Lycean King. To the westering shores of Night. Earth her gracious fruits denies. Corpses spread infection round. Artemis. O slay! (antistrophe 3) O that thine arrows too. O Zeus-born goddess. befriend. Weaponless my spirit lies. For what night leaves undone. we pray. whose hand Doth wield the lightning brand. Wailing on the altar stair Wives and grandams rend the air-Long-drawn moans and piercing cries Blent with prayers and litanies. be near us now and defend us! (strophe 2) Ah me. To the unharbored Thracian waters sped. Though without targe or steel He stalks. 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 through fear For self or friends ye disregard my hest. if with my privity . wherewith the huntress sweeps Across the Lycian steeps. rout. Come with thy bright torch. and the flashing lights Of Artemis. Let him who knows speak out. And if he shrinks. so the god Hath lately shown to me by oracles. the champions of our rights. (Enter OEDIPUS. if any knows the man by whom Laius.Might fly abroad.) OEDIPUS Ye pray. may he pine in utter wretchedness! And for myself. And on the murderer this curse I lay (On him and all the partners in his guilt):-Wretch. I lay my ban On the assassin whosoe'er he be. 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. Bacchus to whom thy Maenads Evoe shout. But if ye still keep silence. The god whom gods abhor. Thee too I call with golden-snooded hair. son of Labdacus. For the worst penalty that shall befall him Is banishment--unscathed he shall depart. Blithe god whom we adore. was slain. but would ye hear my words And heed them and apply the remedy. whereof I hold The sovereign rule. For this is our defilement. Yea. no less than to the crime. let him reflect that thus Confessing he shall 'scape the capital charge. 'tis well. harbor or speak to him. Give him no part in prayer or sacrifice Or lustral rites. Mind you. But if an alien from a foreign land Be known to any as the murderer. and he shall have Due recompense from me and thanks to boot. Whose name our land doth bear. I speak as one who comes a stranger To this report. Ye might perchance find comfort and relief. Hear what I then resolve. I summon him to make clean shrift to me. Thus as their champion I maintain the cause Both of the god and of the murdered King. but hound him from your homes. Let no man in this land.
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. OEDIPUS Well argued; but no living man can hope To force the gods to speak against their will. CHORUS May I then say what seems next best to me? OEDIPUS Aye, if there be a third best, tell it too. 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. 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. CHORUS I mind me too of rumors long ago-Mere gossip. OEDIPUS Tell them, I would fain know all.
CHORUS 'Twas said he fell by travelers. OEDIPUS So I heard, But none has seen the man who saw him fall. CHORUS Well, if he knows what fear is, he will quail And flee before the terror of thy curse. OEDIPUS Words scare not him who blenches not at deeds. 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. (Enter TEIRESIAS, led by a boy.) 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. TEIRESIAS Alas, alas, what misery to be wise When wisdom profits nothing! This old lore I had forgotten; else I were not here. OEDIPUS What ails thee? Why this melancholy mood? TEIRESIAS Let me go home; prevent me not; 'twere best That thou shouldst bear thy burden and I mine. OEDIPUS For shame! no true-born Theban patriot Would thus withhold the word of prophecy. TEIRESIAS Thy words, O king, are wide of the mark, and I For fear lest I too trip like thee... OEDIPUS Oh speak, Withhold not, I adjure thee, if thou know'st, Thy knowledge. We are all thy suppliants. TEIRESIAS Aye, for ye all are witless, but my voice Will ne'er reveal my miseries--or thine. OEDIPUS What then, thou knowest, and yet willst not speak! Wouldst thou betray us and destroy the State? TEIRESIAS I will not vex myself nor thee. Why ask Thus idly what from me thou shalt not learn?
OEDIPUS Monster! thy silence would incense a flint. Will nothing loose thy tongue? Can nothing melt thee, Or shake thy dogged taciturnity? TEIRESIAS Thou blam'st my mood and seest not thine own Wherewith thou art mated; no, thou taxest me. OEDIPUS And who could stay his choler when he heard How insolently thou dost flout the State? TEIRESIAS Well, it will come what will, though I be mute. OEDIPUS Since come it must, thy duty is to tell me. TEIRESIAS I have no more to say; storm as thou willst, And give the rein to all thy pent-up rage. 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. 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. OEDIPUS Vile slanderer, thou blurtest forth these taunts, And think'st forsooth as seer to go scot free. TEIRESIAS Yea, I am free, strong in the strength of truth. OEDIPUS Who was thy teacher? not methinks thy art. TEIRESIAS Thou, goading me against my will to speak. OEDIPUS What speech? repeat it and resolve my doubt. TEIRESIAS Didst miss my sense wouldst thou goad me on? OEDIPUS I but half caught thy meaning; say it again. TEIRESIAS I say thou art the murderer of the man Whose murderer thou pursuest. OEDIPUS Thou shalt rue it Twice to repeat so gross a calumny. TEIRESIAS Must I say more to aggravate thy rage? OEDIPUS Say all thou wilt; it will be but waste of breath. TEIRESIAS I say thou livest with thy nearest kin In infamy, unwitting in thy shame. OEDIPUS Think'st thou for aye unscathed to wag thy tongue? TEIRESIAS Yea, if the might of truth can aught prevail. OEDIPUS With other men, but not with thee, for thou In ear, wit, eye, in everything art blind. TEIRESIAS Poor fool to utter gibes at me which all Here present will cast back on thee ere long. OEDIPUS Offspring of endless Night, thou hast no power O'er me or any man who sees the sun. TEIRESIAS No, for thy weird is not to fall by me.
I leave to Apollo what concerns the god. OEDIPUS Is this a plot of Creon, or thine own? TEIRESIAS Not Creon, thou thyself art thine own bane. 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. 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. 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
He shall be proved the brother and the sire. TEIRESIAS In reading riddles who so skilled as thou? OEDIPUS Twit me with that wherein my greatness lies. take him quickly. boy. thou canst not plague me more. take me home. for his presence irks And lets me. He passes for an alien in the land But soon shall prove a Theban.) . OEDIPUS I know not thou wouldst utter folly. TEIRESIAS I ne'er had come hadst thou not bidden me. Hear then: this man whom thou hast sought to arrest With threats and warrants this long while. inmates of his home. on the gale! Aye. else Long hadst thou waited to be summoned here. OEDIPUS Must I endure this fellow's insolence? A murrain on thee! Get thee hence! Begone Avaunt! and never cross my threshold more. gone. TEIRESIAS I go. TEIRESIAS 'Tis time I left thee. Of her who bare him son and husband both. clad in beggar's weeds. wise.See clear shall henceforward endless night. OEDIPUS What sayest thou--"parents"? Who begat me. speak? TEIRESIAS This day shall be thy birth-day. (Exeunt TEIRESIAS and OEDIPUS. when thou hast found With what a hymeneal thou wast borne Home. But to the parents who begat thee. and leaning on his staff. Flout then both Creon and my words. What crag in all Cithaeron but shall then Reverberate thy wail. but first will tell thee why I came. Go in and ponder this. For blind of seeing. And yet his fortune brings him little joy. TEIRESIAS And yet this very greatness proved thy bane. henceforth declare I have no wit nor skill in prophecy. Ah whither shall thy bitter cry not reach. OEDIPUS No matter if I saved the commonwealth. and thy grave. and if thou find That I have missed the mark. TEIRESIAS Such am I--as it seems to thee a fool. and a flood of ills thou guessest not Shall set thyself and children in one line. and assassin of his sire. Co-partner. but to no fair haven. And of the children. for none Of mortals shall be striken worse than thou. Thy frown I dread not. To a strange land he soon shall grope his way. native born. for thou canst not harm me. OEDIPUS Thou lov'st to speak in riddles and dark words. For purple robes. the wretch Who murdered Laius--that man is here. Come. OEDIPUS Aye.
And come to you protesting. countrymen. (strophe 2) Sore perplexed am I by the words of the master seer. (antistrophe 1) Yea. Proof is there none: how then can I challenge our King's good name. Thus ill-reputed. horrors that no tongue can tell? A foot for flight he needs Fleeter than storm-swift steeds. But that a mortal seer knows more than I know--where Hath this been proven? Or how without sign assured. How in a blood-feud join for an untracked deed of shame? (antistrophe 2) All wise are Zeus and Apollo. From Earth's mid shrine. Apollo. Are they true. can I blame Him who saved our State when the winged songstress came. Polybus' son. The voice divine. and in wits a man may surpass his fellow men. Armed with the lightnings of his Sire. for the calumny Hits not a single blot. If by the general voice I am denounced . I care not to prolong the span of life.CHORUS (strophe 1) Who is he by voice immortal named from Pythia's rocky cell. They are gods. And vainly seeks to fly The doom that ever nigh Flits o'er his head. nor present nor future is clear. If he deems That I have harmed or injured him in aught By word or deed in this our present trouble. Doer of foul deeds of bloodshed. Quarrel of ancient date or in days still near know I none Twixt the Labdacidan house and our ruler. are they false? I know not and bridle my tongue for fear. like gold assayed? How can I now assent when a crime is on Oedipus laid? CREON Friends. Still by the avenging Phoebus sped. but blasts my name. but now flashed forth the summons from Parnassus' snowy peak. Fluttered with vague surmise. "Near and far the undiscovered doer of this murder seek!" Now like a sullen bull he roves Through forest brakes and upland groves. I learn King Oedipus Hath laid against me a most grievous charge. Tested and tried in the light of us all. For on his heels doth follow. Like sleuth-hounds too The Fates pursue. and nothing is hid from their ken.
My murderer and the filcher of my crown? Come. This thou art witless seeking to possess Without a following or friends the crown. not when I was by. thou art much astray. OEDIPUS If thou dost hold a kinsman may be wronged.) OEDIPUS Sirrah. it well may be. not spoken advisedly. OEDIPUS Didst thou or didst thou not advise that I Should call the priest? CREON Yes. but this wrong That thou allegest--tell me what it is. Then having heard me.False to the State and false by you my friends. 'tis my turn To make reply. was blurted out In petulance. OEDIPUS Did he at that time ever glance at me? CREON Not to my knowledge. CREON Since Laius. That made thee undertake this enterprise? I seemed forsooth too simple to perceive The serpent stealing on me in the dark.. CREON Were not his wits and vision all astray When upon me he fixed this monstrous charge? CHORUS I know not. what mak'st thou here? Dost thou presume To approach my doors..? I follow not thy drift. and I stand to it. skilled as now and in no less repute. OEDIPUS By violent hands was spirited away. but I am slow to learn Of thee. a many years agone. Or else too weak to scotch it when I saw. Unschooled by reason... CREON Therein thou judgest rightly. didst thou detect in me Some touch of cowardice or witlessness. CREON First I would argue out this very point. I know too well thy venomous hate. CREON If thou dost count a virtue stubbornness. CREON Attend me. (Enter OEDIPUS. And no pains follow. thou brazen-faced rogue. thou art much to seek. CREON In the dim past. with what intent I know not. he comes to answer for himself. A prize that followers and wealth must win. CREON Did any dare pretend that it was I Prompted the seer to utter a forged charge? CHORUS Such things were said. answer this. CHORUS This taunt. Thou hast spoken. judge. OEDIPUS Did the same prophet then pursue his craft? CREON Yes. to my sovereign's acts I am blind. OEDIPUS O argue not that thou art not a rogue. But lo. OEDIPUS Thou art glib of tongue. OEDIPUS Tell me how long is it since Laius. OEDIPUS But was no search and inquisition made? .
CREON What's mean'st thou? All I know I will declare. And if thou doubt me. first to Delphi go. No such ambition ever tempted me. without appeal. but nothing learnt. CREON If so he thou knowest best. But O condemn me not. OEDIPUS Why failed the seer to tell his story then? CREON I know not. If he would hope to win a grace from thee. If the same power were given him? As for me. There ascertain if my report was true Of the god's answer. I bid thee think. CREON Then let me ask thee. My acts would oft run counter to my will. And every suitor seeks to gain my ear. And I have naught to fear. and I am not mad. OEDIPUS But for thy prompting never had the seer Ascribed to me the death of Laius. and not knowing hold my tongue. 'Tis not right to adjudge . Would any mortal choose a troubled reign Of terrors rather than secure repose. CREON And with you twain I share the triple rule? OEDIPUS Yea. OEDIPUS This much thou knowest and canst surely tell.CREON Surely full quest was made. And if it prove so. Now all men cry me Godspeed! wish me well. but were I king. CREON And as thy consort queen she shares the throne? OEDIPUS I grant her freely all her heart desires. Now all my needs are satisfied through thee. but I Would put thee to the question in my turn. Not by thy voice alone. OEDIPUS Question and prove me murderer if thou canst. 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. preferring to do kingly deeds. I have no natural craving for the name Of king. choose the worse? That were sheer madness. didst thou wed my sister? OEDIPUS A fact so plain I cannot well deny. if thou wouldst reason with thyself. And so thinks every sober-minded man. First. and it is that proves thee a false friend. Why should I leave the better. next investigate If with the seer I plotted or conspired. On bare suspicion. but mine and thine. CREON Not so. As I with myself. Nor would I have a share in such intrigue. sentence me to death.
While the whole land lies striken. CREON Thou art not wise. JOCASTA Believe him. I have caught him practicing Against my royal person his vile arts. First for his solemn oath's sake. my brother. To wait his onset passively. and none too soon. Oedipus. OEDIPUS Yes. Go home. CREON May I ne'er speed but die accursed. I would as lief a man should cast away The thing he counts most precious. why have ye upraised This wordy wrangle? Are ye not ashamed. CREON What then's thy will? To banish me the land? OEDIPUS I would not have thee banished. Hath bid me choose (O dread alternative!) An outlaw's exile or a felon's death. OEDIPUS None but a fool would credit such as thou. CREON Why not for me too? OEDIPUS Why for such a knave? CREON Suppose thou lackest sense. I adjure thee. OEDIPUS When with swift strides the stealthy plotter stalks I must be quick too with my counterplot. princes. then for mine. That men may mark the wages envy reaps. Thou wilt learn in time The truth. As spurn a true friend. for him Is sure success. CREON I see thou wilt not yield. or good men bad. A villain is detected in a day. CHORUS (strophe 1) . OEDIPUS Oh my Thebans. no. thus to voice Your private injuries? Go in. And for thine elders' sake who wait on thee. if I In any way am guilty of this charge. Who so fit As peacemaker to reconcile your feud? (Enter JOCASTA. for time alone reveals the just. CREON Not if they rule ill.) JOCASTA Misguided princes. and forebear to make A public scandal of a petty grief. OEDIPUS Yet kings must rule. Jocasta from the palace. Oedipus. CREON My royal sister. thy lord. for me assured defeat. nor credit me.Bad men at random good. his own life. lo there comes. OEDIPUS Wise for myself at least. my lord. swift counsels are not sure. hear him! CREON Thy Thebans? am not I a Theban too? CHORUS Cease. CHORUS To one who walketh warily his words Commend themselves. lady. but dead.
OEDIPUS Well. I say it once again. I know. Such tempers justly plague themselves the most. insane. such thought was never mine. but not stubborn but relent. JOCASTA What was the tale? CHORUS Ask me no more. CHORUS Brand not a friend whom babbling tongues assail. For your sake I relent. Unblest. OEDIPUS Dost know what grace thou cravest? CHORUS Yea. And yet would'st mitigate and blunt my zeal. CREON I go. to crown our woe. Where'er he be. OEDIPUS Declare it then and make thy meaning plain. CREON Thou art as sullen in thy yielding mood As in thine anger thou wast truculent. but justified by these. 'Twere better sleeping ills to leave at rest. Doubly fall'n should discord grow Twixt you twain. CHORUS (antistrophe 2) King. . by the leader of the host divine! (strophe 2) Witness. lead indoors thy consort. OEDIPUS Say to what should I consent? CHORUS Respect a man whose probity and troth Are known to all and now confirmed by oath. Witless were I proved. If I lightly put away Thee my country's prop and stay. OEDIPUS Leave me in peace and get thee gone. By thee misjudged. friend! I know thou mean'st me well. OEDIPUS Bethink you that in seeking this ye seek In very sooth my death or banishment? CHORUS No. unfriended may I perish. OEDIPUS Strange counsel. (Exeunt CREON.) CHORUS (antistrophe 1) Lady.Hearken. CHORUS Rumors bred unjust suspicious and injustice rankles sore. we pray thee. wherefore longer here delay? JOCASTA Tell me first how rose the fray. Let not suspicion 'gainst his oath prevail. King. reflect. and him. JOCASTA Were both at fault? CHORUS Both. not his. If ever I such wish did cherish! But O my heart is desolate Musing on our striken State. thou Sun. no matter what it cost me. The land is sore distressed. let him go. Or certain death or shameful banishment. my heart shall still abhor.
and now Who can guide us right but thou? JOCASTA Let me too. it was but three days old. Regard it not. As for the child. JOCASTA So ran the story that is current still. for thou art more to me than these. O king. OEDIPUS He points me out as Laius' murderer. OEDIPUS I will. Here is the proof in brief. lady. JOCASTA But what provoked the quarrel? make this clear. No natives. the cause is Creon and his plots. JOCASTA Then thou mayest ease thy conscience on that score. So then Apollo brought it not to pass The child should be his father's murderer. I adjure thee. 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. what wild tumult of the soul Came o'er me. at a spot where three roads meet. OEDIPUS Where did this happen? Dost thou know the place? JOCASTA Phocis the land is called. but from His ministers) declaring he was doomed To perish by the hand of his own son. its ankles pierced and pinned Together. Now Laius--so at least report affirmed-Was murdered on a day by highwaymen. When Laius. OEDIPUS And how long is it since these things befell? . And Laius be slain by his own son. in danger sought. himself unaided will reveal. know. And makes a mouthpiece of a knavish seer. To a quiet haven brought Our distracted State. An oracle Once came to Laius (I will not say 'Twas from the Delphic god himself. Lady. What cause has stirred this unrelenting wrath. the spot is where Branch roads from Delphi and from Daulis meet. Whate'er the god deems fit To search. OEDIPUS What memories. gave it to be cast away By others on the trackless mountain side. A child that should be born to him by me.Pilot who. Listen and I'll convince thee that no man Hath scot or lot in the prophetic art. O king. Or the dread terror find accomplishment. Such was the prophet's horoscope. JOCASTA Of his own knowledge or upon report? OEDIPUS He is too cunning to commit himself.
'Twas an honest slave And well deserved some better recompense. He clasped my hand and supplicated me To send him to the alps and pastures. Who has a higher claim that thou to hear My tale of dire adventures? Listen then. JOCASTA He shall be brought. Oedipus. Now my imaginings have gone so far. Yet scarce deserving all the heat it stirred. but may not I too claim To share the burden of thy heart. where He might be farthest from the sight of Thebes. he shall come. And so I sent him. OEDIPUS Fetch him at once.JOCASTA 'Twas but a brief while were thou wast proclaimed Our country's ruler that the news was brought. OEDIPUS Alas! 'tis clear as noonday now. But say. . and My mother Merope. like a prince? JOCASTA They were but five in all. JOCASTA Well. therefore I would question him. a Dorian. OEDIPUS Had he but few attendants or a train Of armed retainers with him. that moves thee so? OEDIPUS Ask me not yet. I fain would see the man. strange indeed. I tremble. My sire was Polybus of Corinth. Till a strange thing befell me. One further question to resolve my doubt. tell me the build and height Of Laius? Was he still in manhood's prime? JOCASTA Tall was he. the sole survivor who returned. and one of them A herald. I fear my tongue has overrun Discretion. and his hair was lightly strewn With silver. JOCASTA What say'st thou? When I look upon thee. but wherefore summon him? OEDIPUS Lady. but ask. and not unlike thee in form. for as soon as he returned and found Thee reigning in the stead of Laius slain. And I was held the foremost citizen. Lady. and I will answer all. OEDIPUS 'Tis a dread presentiment That in the end the seer will prove not blind. Laius in a mule-car rode. JOCASTA I quail. OEDIPUS Haply he is at hand or in the house? JOCASTA No. what hast thou willed to do with me! JOCASTA What is it. OEDIPUS O woe is me! Mehtinks unwittingly I laid but now a dread curse on myself. who carried this report to Thebes? JOCASTA A serf. my king. my king? OEDIPUS And thou shalt not be frustrate of thy wish. OEDIPUS O Zeus.
They were indignant at the random slur Cast on my parentage and did their best To comfort me. whom all are bound To harry from their homes. Then jostled by the charioteer in wrath I struck him. Woes. but I stomached for the nonce The insult. What mortal could you find more god-abhorred? Wretch whom no sojourner. lady. 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.--thou shalt hear the very truth-As I drew near the triple-branching roads. Or else to wed my mother and slay my sire. who more miserable than I. seeing this. Yea with these hands all gory I pollute The bed of him I slew. To wit I should defile my mother's bed And raise up seed too loathsome to behold. on the morrow I sought out My mother and my sire and questioned them. Shouted "Thou art not true son of thy sire. one stroke Of my good staff sufficed to fling him clean Out of the chariot seat and laid him prone. mourning." It irked me. And this same curse Was laid on me. am I vile? Am I not utterly unclean. Yet was I quits with him and more. and in banishment Forgo the sight of all my dearest ones. Say. and the old man. for still the scandal spread and grew. no citizen May harbor or address. flown with wine. Polybus. Watched till I passed and from his car brought down Full on my head the double-pointed goad. but still the venomed barb Rankled. who begat me and upreared? . a wretch Doomed to be banished. And never tread again my native earth.A roisterer at some banquet. Then. So privily without their leave I went To Delphi. portents dire. But other grievous things he prophesied. and laid by none but me. But if Betwixt this stranger there was aught in common With Laius. And slay the father from whose loins I sprang. and Apollo sent me back Baulked of the knowledge that I came to seek. lamentations. And so I slew them every one.
JOCASTA That will I straightway. He shed no blood. I would do nothing that my lord mislikes. but he. if his tale agrees With thine. rest assured. Forbid. OEDIPUS My hope is faint. not a robber. Olympus their progenitor alone: Ne'er shall they slumber in oblivion cold. The god in them is strong and grows not old. O king. Nor can he now retract what then he said. JOCASTA Suppose him here. who could blame His judgment? But. lady. JOCASTA And what of special import did I say? OEDIPUS In thy report of what the herdsman said Laius was slain by robbers. For Loxias said expressly he was doomed To die by my child's hand. So much for divination. 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. Come. his tale ran thus at first. but still enough survives To bid me bide the coming of this herd. He cannot make the death of Laius In any wise jump with the oracle. I shall have 'scaped calamity. are troubled. but till thou Hast questioned the survivor. let us within. poor babe. JOCASTA Well. (antistrophe 1) . ye pure and awful gods. now if he Still speaks of robbers. But if he says one lonely wayfarer. OEDIPUS Thou reasonest well. To follow still those laws ordained on high Whose birthplace is the bright ethereal sky No mortal birth they own. this is the handiwork Of some inhuman power. Still I would have thee send And fetch the bondsman hither. I Slew him not. Not I alone but all our townsfolk heard it.) CHORUS (strophe 1) My lot be still to lead The life of innocence and fly Irreverence in word or deed. Henceforth I Will look for signs neither to right nor left. The last link wanting to my guilt is forged.If one should say. E'en should he vary somewhat in his story. See to it. (Exeunt OEDIPUS and JOCASTA. but perished first himself. "one" with "many" cannot square. what wouldst thou learn of him? OEDIPUS I'll tell thee. still hope on.
or in word or deed. If. That will not Justice heed. all-seeing. With empty riches surfeited. Who when such deeds are done Can hope heaven's bolts to shun? If sin like this to honor can aspire. King. Nor reverence the shrine Of images divine. But O may Heaven the true patriot keep Who burns with emulous zeal to serve the State. urged by greed profane. Apollo. and to thee My prayers and supplications here I bring. His weird. (strophe 2) But the proud sinner. Since then my counsels naught avail. Why dance I still and lead the sacred choir? (antistrophe 2) No more I'll seek earth's central oracle. our present help in time of trouble.) JOCASTA My lords. but lends an ear To any croaker if he augurs ill. 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. Nor to Olympia bring My votive offering. as of old. (Enter JOCASTA. if thou'rt named aright Omnipotent. .Of insolence is bred The tyrant. No foothold on that dizzy steep. Lord Lycean. reveal thy might. Then topples o'er and lies in ruin prone. God is my help and hope. insolence full blown. And lays an impious hand on holiest things. For Laius is forgot. I turn To thee. To judge the present need. If before all God's truth be not bade plain. He grasps at ill-got gain. alarmed With terrors manifold. Apollo is forsook and faith grows cold. Perdition seize his vain imaginings. like a man of sense. He will not use His past experience. Scales the precipitous height and grasps the throne. Or Abae's hallowed cell. men heed it not. For Oedipus is overwrought. on him I wait. O Zeus.
CHORUS Here is the palace and he bides within. In dread to prove his murderer. and cleanse us from this curse! For now we all are cowed like mariners Who see their helmsman dumbstruck in the storm. the sire of Oedipus? MESSENGER If I speak falsely. thy fair words Deserve a like response. MESSENGER All happiness attend her and the house. Ye god-sent oracles. MESSENGER Good for thy consort and the royal house. stranger. verily. OEDIPUS By treachery. having measured the full span of years. lady! why should one regard The Pythian hearth or birds that scream i' the air? Did they not point at me as doomed to slay My father? but he's dead and in his grave And here am I who ne'er unsheathed a sword. MESSENGER Yes.) OEDIPUS My wife. lord. (Enter OEDIPUS. JOCASTA What may it be? Whose messenger art thou? MESSENGER The Isthmian commons have resolved to make Thy husband king--so 'twas reported there. OEDIPUS Out on it. or better. And as thou hearest judge what has become Of all those awe-inspiring oracles. stranger. know that Polybus is dead. OEDIPUS So of some malady he died. Blessed is her husband and her marriage-bed. This is his queen the mother of his children. . tell me where the palace is Of Oedipus. he's dead and in his grave. where's the king. and now He dies in nature's course. JOCASTA What! is not aged Polybus still king? MESSENGER No. But tell me why Thou comest--what thy need or what thy news. MESSENGER If I must first make plain beyond a doubt My message. OEDIPUS Who is this man. Jocasta.Lighten us.) MESSENGER My masters. bear these tidings to my lord. my queen. and what his news for me? JOCASTA He comes from Corinth and his message this: Thy father Polybus hath passed away. from thy mouth. why hast thou Summoned me from my palace? JOCASTA Hear this man. JOCASTA My greetings to thee. JOCASTA What! is he dead. not by his hand. OEDIPUS What? let me have it. (Enter Corinthian MESSENGER. poor man. maiden. where stand ye now! This is the man whom Oedipus long shunned. or by sickness visited? MESSENGER One touch will send an old man to his rest. JOCASTA Quick. may I die myself.
and shed With my own hands the blood of my own sire. since she lives Though half convinced I still must live in dread. MESSENGER A mystery. but my fear is touching her who lives. OEDIPUS Much. Loxias once foretold That I should mate with mine own mother. or may a stranger hear it? OEDIPUS Aye. 'tis no secret. MESSENGER Lest through thy parents thou shouldst be accursed? OEDIPUS This and none other is my constant dread. be afraid? Best live a careless life from hand to mouth. With no assured foreknowledge. since I came to give thee pleasure. How oft it chances that in dreams a man Has wed his mother! He who least regards Such brainsick phantasies lives most at ease.Unless the longing for his absent son Killed him and so I slew him in a sense. Were not my mother living. lest the god's word be fulfilled in me. and I trove abroad. OEDIPUS I should have shared in full thy confidence. thou shalt have due guerdon for thy pains. as they stand. But. 'tis plain. MESSENGER And what of her can cause you any fear? OEDIPUS A heaven-sent oracle of dread import. OEDIPUS How so. Have I not rid thee of this second fear? OEDIPUS Well. did not I foretell this long ago? OEDIPUS Thou didst: but I was misled by my fear. Hence Corinth was for many a year to me A home distant. OEDIPUS Nay. MESSENGER Was this the fear that exiled thee from home? OEDIPUS Yea. JOCASTA Why should a mortal man. ashes. This wedlock with thy mother fear not thou. MESSENGER If this is why thou dreadest to return. MESSENGER Who may this woman be whom thus you fear? OEDIPUS Merope. MESSENGER Why. wife of Polybus. MESSENGER Dost thou not know thy fears are baseless all? . my parents' face. the sport of chance. OEDIPUS Yea. dead as Polybus. nothing. the oracles are dead-Dust. JOCASTA And yet thy sire's death lights out darkness much. stranger. OEDIPUS Must I not fear my mother's marriage bed. MESSENGER Well. MESSENGER My son. I confess what chiefly made me come Was hope to profit by thy coming home. old man? For heaven's sake tell me all. I will ne'er go near my parents more. JOCASTA Then let I no more weigh upon thy soul. JOCASTA Say. and the dread of slaying my own sire. King. But missed the sweetest sight. thou know'st not what thou doest.
OEDIPUS What. OEDIPUS A foundling or a purchased slave. another shepherd gave thee me. OEDIPUS A vagrant shepherd journeying for hire? MESSENGER True. this child? MESSENGER I found thee in Cithaeron's wooded glens. a gift. OEDIPUS Ah. not thyself? MESSENGER Not I. OEDIPUS My savior? from what harm? what ailed me then? MESSENGER Those ankle joints are evidence enow. CHORUS Methinks he means none other than the hind Whom thou anon wert fain to see.OEDIPUS How baseless. my son. but thy savior in that hour. tell me who Say. with such guiding clues I cannot fail . OEDIPUS And is he living still for me to see him? MESSENGER His fellow-countrymen should best know that. OEDIPUS Who did it? I adjure thee. OEDIPUS My sire no more to me than one who is naught? MESSENGER Since I begat thee not. dost know the man we sent to fetch? Is the same of whom the stranger speaks? JOCASTA Who is the man? What matter? Let it be. OEDIPUS Yet. OEDIPUS Who was he? Would'st thou know again the man? MESSENGER He passed indeed for one of Laius' house. MESSENGER A childless man till then. 'Twere waste of thought to weigh such idle words. he warmed to thee. and no more. if I am their very son? MESSENGER Since Polybus was naught to thee in blood. OEDIPUS Madam. OEDIPUS No. MESSENGER Whence thou deriv'st the name that still is thine. from my cradle that dread brand I bore. The man from whom I had thee may know more. OEDIPUS The king who ruled the country long ago? MESSENGER The same: he was a herdsman of the king. why remind me of that ancient sore? MESSENGER I loosed the pin that riveted thy feet. OEDIPUS Doth any bystander among you know The herd he speaks of. OEDIPUS Yes. did another find me. was it father. he loved me well. OEDIPUS What led thee to explore those upland glades? MESSENGER My business was to tend the mountain flocks. if no child of his. no more did he. OEDIPUS What reason had he then to call me son? MESSENGER Know that he took thee from my hands. OEDIPUS What say'st thou? was not Polybus my sire? MESSENGER As much thy sire as I am. but that Our queen Jocasta best of all could tell. or by seeing him Afield or in the city? answer straight! The hour hath come to clear this business up. mother? MESSENGER I know not.
may my words find grace! (antistrophe) Child. be it ne'er so low. CHORUS (strophe) If my soul prophetic err not. thy honor is unsmirched. who never yet before Have met the man. Thee.To bring to light the secret of my birth. Dance and song shall hymn thy praises. as thou carest for thy life. my fixed resolve still holds. henceforth silent evermore. Oedipus. if my wisdom aught avail. The giver of good gifts. I must probe this matter home. though I be proved the son Of a bondwoman. for he haunts the upland wold. JOCASTA Oh. if I. aye. To learn my lineage. Thus sprung why should I fear to trace my birth? Nothing can make me other than I am. and with them I wax and wane. OEDIPUS Be of good cheer. through three descents Triply a slave. or Bacchus. OEDIPUS I cannot. shall not be shamed. (Exit JOCASTA. why stung with passionate grief Hath the queen thus departed? Much I fear From this dead calm will burst a storm of woes. nymph or goddess? sure thy sure was more than man. As the nurse and foster-mother of our Oedipus shall greet Ere tomorrow's full moon rises. OEDIPUS I grow impatient of this best advice. I shall hail. It may be she with all a woman's pride Thinks scorn of my base parentage. fetch me here the herd. I pray thee. Cithaeron. Haply the hill-roamer Pan. Or Cyllene's lord. Enough the anguish I endure. JOCASTA O woe is thee.) CHORUS Why. JOCASTA Ah mayst thou ne'er discover who thou art! OEDIPUS Go. JOCASTA 'Tis for thy sake I advise thee for the best. lover of our royal race. . methinks I see the herdsman who we long have sought. OEDIPUS Let the storm burst. give o'er This quest. She is my mother and the changing moons My brethren. do not this. and leave yon woman To glory in her pride of ancestry. poor wretch! With that last word I leave thee. a new-born joy? Nymphs with whom he love to toy? OEDIPUS Elders. JOCASTA Yet humor me. may make a guess. who bare thee. Phoebus. and exalt thee as is meet. dweller on the hilltops cold? Did some Heliconian Oread give him thee. Of did Loxias beget thee. But I Who rank myself as Fortune's favorite child.
MESSENGER Well. Having in past days known or seen the herd. Did these things happen as I say. babbles like a fool. (Enter HERDSMAN. old man. OEDIPUS And now old man. perchance. OEDIPUS Arrest the villain. seize and pinion him! HERDSMAN Alack. what is my offense? OEDIPUS Not answering what he asks about the child. I his mate from spring Till rose Arcturus. then in winter time I led mine home. But you. look up and answer all I ask thee. or no? HERDSMAN 'Tis long ago. OEDIPUS Then there Thou must have known yon man. alack! .. having met him in past times. I'll loose thy tongue. at least by fame? HERDSMAN Yon man? in what way? what man dost thou mean? OEDIPUS The man here. HERDSMAN For mercy's sake abuse not an old man. HERDSMAN A plague upon thee! Hold thy wanton tongue! OEDIPUS Softly. besides I seem to recognize the men who bring him As servants of my own. on the Cithaeron range. Wast thou once of Laius' house? HERDSMAN I was. MESSENGER No wonder. He two. he that stands before thee was that child. stranger. rebuke him not. HERDSMAN O best of masters. master. thy words Are more deserving chastisement than his. HERDSMAN Off-hand I cannot call him well to mind. not purchased but home-bred. But I will revive His blunted memories. OEDIPUS What was thy business? how wast thou employed? HERDSMAN The best part of my life I tended sheep. one of Laius' house. I address thee first. Is this the man thou meanest! MESSENGER This is he.) OEDIPUS Corinthian.His time-worn aspect matches with the years Of yonder aged messenger. A simple hind. May better by sure knowledge my surmise. OEDIPUS What were the pastures thou didst most frequent? HERDSMAN Cithaeron and the neighboring alps. he his to Laius' folds. For three long summers. Sure he can recall What time together both we drove our flocks. a thrall. OEDIPUS If thou lack'st grace to speak.. CHORUS I recognize him. HERDSMAN He speaks at random. but true as any man. I one. thou mast then remember giving me A child to rear as my own foster-son? HERDSMAN Why dost thou ask this question? What of that? MESSENGER Friend. but all thou say'st is true.
HERDSMAN Well then--it was a child of Laius' house. But she within. HERDSMAN But. my king. . A parricide. HERDSMAN Fearing a dread weird. OEDIPUS The knave methinks will still prevaricate. OEDIPUS Slave-born or one of Laius' own race? HERDSMAN Ah me! I stand upon the perilous edge of speech. thy piteous fall Warns me none born of women blest to call. all true! O light. OEDIPUS Ah me! ah me! all brought to pass. she its mother. OEDIPUS What weird? HERDSMAN 'Twas told that he should slay his sire. or given to thee? HERDSMAN I had it from another. I am doubly lost. master. thy consort best could tell. and the visions pale and fade. OEDIPUS What. OEDIPUS With what intent? HERDSMAN To make away with it. and what house? HERDSMAN Forbear for God's sake. for the babe. 'twas not mine. in wedlock cursed. she gave it thee? HERDSMAN 'Tis so. thou'rt lost. God pity thee! thou wast to misery born.) CHORUS (strophe 1) Races of mortal man Whose life is but a span. O Oedipus. HERDSMAN Nay. if I tell it. OEDIPUS Whence came it? was it thine. I thought He'd take it to the country whence he came. and would that I had died that day! OEDIPUS And die thou shalt unless thou tell the truth. Thy fall. incestuously. OEDIPUS What didst thou give it then to this old man? HERDSMAN Through pity. may I behold thee nevermore! I stand a wretch. OEDIPUS If I must question thee again.What have I done? what wouldst thou further learn? OEDIPUS Didst give this man the child of whom he asks? HERDSMAN I did. OEDIPUS From whom of these our townsmen. in birth. triply cursed! (Exit OEDIPUS. HERDSMAN Know then the child was by repute his own. OEDIPUS What! she. But he preserved it for the worst of woes. For if thou art in sooth what this man saith. I count ye but the shadow of a shade! For he who most doth know Of bliss. master. hath but the show. ask no more. OEDIPUS And I of hearing. A moment. I confessed I gave it long ago. but I still must hear.
Our sovereign lady queen Jocasta's dead. O child of Laius' ill-starred race Would I had ne'er beheld thy face. Ills wrought of malice. The ills it shrouds or soon will bring to light. Nathless. whose lot more dire? O Oedipus. as far as my poor memory serves. What Deeds ye soon must hear. sooth to say. what canst thou add? SECOND MESSENGER My tale is quickly told and quickly heard. I ween. CHORUS Grievous enough for all our tears and groans Our past calamities. Thy cradle was thy marriage bed. (strophe 2) O heavy hand of fate! Who now more desolate. The worst to bear are self-inflicted wounds. We hailed thee king and from that day adored Of mighty Thebes the universal lord. outshot the rest. I raise for thee a dirge as o'er the dead. When in her frenzy she had passed inside . How could the soil thy father eared so long Endure to bear in silence such a wrong? (antistrophe 2) All-seeing Time hath caught Guilt. I will relate the unhappy lady's woe. and to justice brought The son and sire commingled in one bed. Not having seen. Ye reverence still the race of Labdacus! Not Ister nor all Phasis' flood. And won the prize supreme of wealth and power. Whose tale more sad than thine. yet cannot comprehend. what sights behold How will ye mourn. Could wash away the blood-stains from this house. And all the horror of it.) SECOND MESSENGER Most grave and reverend senators of Thebes. By him the vulture maid Was quelled. One harborage sufficed for son and sire. (Enter SECOND MESSENGER. He rose our savior and the land's strong tower. if. CHORUS Alas.(antistrophe 1) For he of marksmen best. not unwittingly. O Zeus. poor queen! how came she by her death? SECOND MESSENGER By her own hand. her witchery laid. Yet. And now through thee I feel a second death. through thee I drew new breath. discrowned head. true-born patriots.
and when her wretched corpse Lay stretched on earth. whereto. She shut the doors behind her with a crash. now blind to those Whom. and from their staples forced The wrenched bolts and hurled himself within. what followed--O 'twas dread! He tore the golden brooches that upheld Her queenly robes. But when he saw her. with a maddened roar He loosed the cord. long ago. once within the room. Nor could we mark her agony to the end. a monstrous progeny." Such was the burden of his moan. Then we beheld the woman hanging there. children by her child. Then she bewailed the marriage bed whereon Poor wretch. Deeds I have suffered and myself have wrought. no wife. as up and down he strode. A running noose entwined about her neck. all eyes were fixed On Oedipus. confounding man and wife. Husband by husband. . me and mine?" And in his frenzy some supernal power (No mortal. thick as hail." she cried. "Laius. and at each stroke the ensanguined orbs Bedewed his beard. issuing from the double source. surely. he struck with his hand uplift His eyes. her thought was of that child By him begot. the son by whom the sire Was murdered and the mother left to breed With her own seed. Nor how the end befell. What happened after that I cannot tell. As though one beckoned him. Such evils. upraised them high and smote Full on his eye-balls. Have whelmed them both. with a terrible shriek. I vainly yearned to know. when I saw. she hurried straight to win The bridal-chamber. For stalking to and fro "A sword!" he cried. none of us who watched him) Guided his footsteps. Not once but oft. and. uttering words like these: "No more shall ye behold such sights of woe. Henceforward quenched in darkness shall ye see Those ye should ne'er have seen. But one black gory downpour. "Where is the wife. not oozing drop by drop. and called her husband dead Long. he crashed against The folding doors. for with a shriek Burst on us Oedipus. she had conceived a double brood. the teeming womb That bore a double harvest.The vestibule. clutching at her hair With both her hands.
OEDIPUS Ah me! ah woe is me! Ah whither am I borne! How like a ghost forlorn My voice flits from me on the air! On. ah where? CHORUS An end too dread to tell. too dark to see. Wraps me and bears me on through mist and cloud. The end. all. And soon ye shall behold a sight so sad That he who must abhorred would pity it. OEDIPUS (antistrophe 1) Ah friend. I know thee near.Till now the storied fortune of this house Was fortunate indeed. All ills that can be named. lamentation. much to learn. his mother's--" That shameful word my lips may not repeat. all are theirs. Horror-struck away I turn. prowling all thy life around. He vows to fly self-banished from the land. Whence this madness? None can tell Who did cast on thee his spell. "Unbar the doors and let all Thebes Behold the slayer of his sire. but from this day Woe. disgrace. the palace portals are unbarred. Ah me. (Enter OEDIPUS blinded. OEDIPUS (strophe 1) Dark. Leaping with a demon bound. Much to question. Nor stay to bring upon his house the curse Himself had uttered. like a shroud. and though bereft of eyes. still loyal. how couldst thou mar Thy vision thus? What demon goaded thee? . CHORUS But hath he still no respite from his pain? SECOND MESSENGER He cries. as yourselves will see. Thy voice I recognize. Thou carest for the blind. constant still and kind.) CHORUS Woeful sight! more woeful none These sad eyes have looked upon. CHORUS O doer of dread deeds. and his torture's more Than man can suffer. ruin. For lo. but he has no strength Nor one to guide him. What pangs of agonizing memory? CHORUS No marvel if in such a plight thou feel'st The double weight of past and present woes. death. Hapless wretch! how can I brook On thy misery to look? Though to gaze on thee I yearn. on the demon goads. dark! The horror of darkness. ah me! What spasms athwart me shoot.
CHORUS I too had wished it so. friends. I know not with what eyes I could have met my father in the shades. no fond delay. OEDIPUS Say. Thou canst never shake My firm belief. CHORUS I cannot say that thou hast counseled well. How. friends. What. Aye. but. OEDIPUS What's done was well done.OEDIPUS (strophe 2) Apollo. ye say. accursed of men. A truce to argument. yet had he left me there. He had saved my friends and me a world of care. OEDIPUS Then had I never come to shed My father's blood nor climbed my mother's bed. had I sight. Apollo. and child. such a sight could never bring me joy. can any look or voice Or touch of love henceforth my heart rejoice? Haste. How. the sight of children joys A parent's eyes. a sin no gallows could atone. The man abhorred of gods. Take the twice cursed away Far from all ken. he it was That brought these ills to pass. Or my poor mother. Co-mate of him who gendered me. since against the twain I sinned. Its temples and the statues of its gods. Would I had never looked upon thy face! OEDIPUS (antistrophe 2) My curse on him whoe'er unrived The waif's fell fetters and my life revived! He meant me well. For thou wert better dead than living blind. friend. now wretchedst of all. condemned By my own proclamation 'gainst the wretch. Nor this fair city with its battlements. none other. For. Was ever man before afflicted thus. CHORUS O thy despair well suits thy desperate case. The miscreant by heaven itself declared . Once ranked the foremost Theban in all Thebes. By my own sentence am cut off. The monstrous offspring of a womb defiled. But the right hand that dealt the blow Was mine. Like Oedipus. could I longer see when sight Brought no delight? CHORUS Alas! 'tis as thou sayest. born as mine were born? No. Sights from which I.
I adjure you. or slay me straight. here is Creon.) CREON Lo. O my home.Unclean--and of the race of Laius. the life-blood these hands spilt. sowed again my seed. I myself must bear The load of guilt that none but I can share. brothers. wives and mothers. I had never shrunk to make A dungeon of this miserable frame. Mingling the blood of fathers. O Corinth. the one man to grant Thy prayer by action or advice. at least revere The Sun whose light beholds and nurtures all. I come Nor to upbraid thee with thy past misdeeds. for he Is left the State's sole guardian in thy stead.) But shame upon you! if ye feel no sense Of human decencies. Coppice. why Didst thou not take and slay me? Then I never Had shown to men the secret of my birth. Ye drank my blood. or cast me Down to the depths of ocean out of sight. Why didst thou harbor me. O. how foul The canker that lay festering in the bud! Now is the blight revealed of root and fruit. having borne me. Leave not thus nakedly for all to gaze at . Oedipus. for 'tis bliss to bide in regions sorrow cannot reach. And. and pass where meet the three-branched ways. Cut off from sight and hearing. My father's. OEDIPUS Ah me! what words to accost him can I find? What cause has he to trust me? In the past I have bee proved his rancorous enemy. hide me anywhere Far from this land. CREON Not in derision. O Polybus. Cithaeron. All horrors that are wrought beneath the sun. and thou hidden glen. How had I dared to look you in the face? Nay. Horrors so foul to name them were unmeet. thou didst give me birth. Come hither. Brides. Ye triple high-roads. children. Thus branded as a felon by myself. (Enter CREON. Home of my ancestors (so wast thou called) How fair a nursling then I seemed. an incestuous brood. do ye call to mind perchance Those deeds of mine ye witnessed and the work I wrought thereafter when I came to Thebes? O fatal wedlock. (To BYSTANDERS. had I known a way to choke the springs Of hearing. deign to touch an abject wretch. Draw near and fear not.
if thou willst. but thine. OEDIPUS His will was set forth fully--to destroy The parricide. as brother. The city of my sires.A horror neither earth nor rain from heaven Nor light will suffer. famed as mine. when alive. This much I know full surely. I pray thee. So be it. For I had ne'er been snatched from death. Who ever sat beside me at the board Sharing my viands. Hear me. Lead him straight within. nor disease Shall end my days. but I deemed It first behooved me to consult the god. while they lived. the scoundrel. O Creon. poor innocent maids. to perform. For them. But for my daughters twain. for thyself wouldst credit now his word. No. since thy presence comes to me A shock of glad surprise--so noble thou. they are men. OEDIPUS O listen. CREON Yea. drinking of my cup. unless I was predestined to some awful doom. OEDIPUS Aye. For it is seemly that a kinsman's woes Be heard by kin and seen by kin alone. And I so vile--O grant me one small boon. be doomed to bear The burden of my presence while I live. and I am he. nor any common chance. And for themselves. can fend. Set me within some vasty desert where No mortal voice shall greet me any more. O might I feel their touch and make my moan. Such rites 'tis thine. but in our present plight 'Twere better to consult the god anew. CREON And what the favor thou wouldst crave of me? OEDIPUS Forth from thy borders thrust me with all speed. CREON This had I done already. and on thee in all humility I lay this charge: let her who lies within Receive such burial as thou shalt ordain. My tomb predestined for me by my sire And mother. and. On yonder mount Cithaeron. OEDIPUS Dare ye inquire concerning such a wretch? CREON Yea. O never let my Thebes. care. O prince. so he spake. I ask it not on my behalf. let me be a dweller on the hills. my noble-hearted prince! . where'er they be. But for myself. that I may die Slain as they sought to slay me. I reck not how Fate deals with me But my unhappy children--for my sons Be not concerned.
Were ye but ripe to hear. for we Their natural parents. Where's the bold wooers who will jeopardize To take unto himself such disrepute As to my children's children still must cling. my children I had much to say. No merrymaking will it prove for you. Became your sire by her from whom he sprang. OEDIPUS I must obey. are lost. and begat These maidens at the source wherefrom he sprang. pass within. Where'er ye go to feast or festival. as when I saw. The slights and wrongs that men will put upon you. Though I cannot behold you. OEDIPUS God speed thee! and as meed for bringing them May Providence deal with thee kindlier Than it has dealt with me! O children mine. sowed the seed Where he himself was gendered. Menoeceus' son. Let this suffice: Pray ye may find some home and live content. and but for thee All destitute. nor let them share my low estate. With the it rests to father them. I must weep In thinking of the evil days to come. 'twas I procured thee this delight. both of us. poor maids.Could I but blindly touch them with my hands I'd think they still were mine. unwed. I ween. But oft abashed in tears ye will return. to thee. CREON Thou hast had enough of weeping. in single barrenness. Though 'tis grievous. Hands of a man who blindly. Thy hand upon it. And when ye come to marriageable years. A brother's hands.) What say I? can it be my pretty ones Whose sobs I hear? Has Creon pitied me And sent me my two darlings? Can this be? CREON 'Tis true. To you. I turn. . And may your lot prove happier than your sire's. Who then will wed you? None. O pity them so young. O leave them not to wander poor. Knowing the joy they were to thee of old. (ANTIGONE and ISMENE are led in. Thy kin. For what of infamy is lacking here? "Their father slew his father. Prince. a father's. but ye Must pine. Where are ye? Let me clasp you with these hands. hands that made Lack-luster sockets of his once bright eyes." Such are the gibes that men will cast at you. recklessly. O Prince.
edu. CREON What thy terms for going. CREON Ask this of the gods. OEDIPUS But I am the gods' abhorrence. say. Wait till free from pain and sorrow he has gained his final rest. Daniel C. OEDIPUS Lead me hence. but on conditions. including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. this is Oedipus the great. Web Atomics.mit. countrymen and Thebans. Direct permission requests to classics@classics. not me. Translation of "The Deeds of the Divine Augustus" by Augustus is copyright (C) Thomas Bushnell. He who knew the Sphinx's riddle and was mightiest in our state. I am willing. CREON Then they soon will grant thy plea. everything must have its day. Who of all our townsmen gazed not on his fame with envious eyes? Now. but let thy children go. in what a sea of troubles sunk and overwhelmed he lies! Therefore wait to see life's ending ere thou count one mortal blest. OEDIPUS Rob me not of these my children! CREON Crave not mastery in all. then. CHORUS Look ye. . CREON Come. Stevenson. THE END ---------------------------------------------------------------------Copyright statement: The Internet Classics Archive by Daniel C. World Wide Web presentation is copyright (C) 1994-1998. Web Atomics. OEDIPUS Send me from the land an exile. All rights reserved under international and pan-American copyright conventions. BSG. For the mastery that raised thee was thy bane and wrought thy fall. OEDIPUS Well I go.CREON Weep not. Stevenson.
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