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OEDIPUS
And die thou shalt unless thou tell the truth.

HERDSMAN
But, if I tell it, I am doubly lost.

OEDIPUS
The knave methinks will still prevaricate.

HERDSMAN
Nay, I confessed I gave it long ago.

OEDIPUS
Whence came it? was it thine, or given to thee?

HERDSMAN
I had it from another, 'twas not mine.

OEDIPUS
From whom of these our townsmen, and what house?

HERDSMAN
Forbear for God's sake, master, ask no more.

OEDIPUS
If I must question thee again, thou'rt lost.

HERDSMAN
Well then--it was a child of Laius' house.

OEDIPUS
Slave-born or one of Laius' own race?

HERDSMAN
Ah me!
I stand upon the perilous edge of speech.

OEDIPUS
And I of hearing, but I still must hear.

HERDSMAN
Know then the child was by repute his own,
But she within, thy consort best could tell.

OEDIPUS
What! she, she gave it thee?

HERDSMAN
'Tis so, my king.

OEDIPUS
With what intent?

HERDSMAN
To make away with it.

OEDIPUS
What, she its mother.

HERDSMAN
Fearing a dread weird.

OEDIPUS
What weird?

HERDSMAN
'Twas told that he should slay his sire.

OEDIPUS
What didst thou give it then to this old man?

HERDSMAN
Through pity, master, for the babe. I thought
He'd take it to the country whence he came;
But he preserved it for the worst of woes.
For if thou art in sooth what this man saith,
God pity thee! thou wast to misery born.

OEDIPUS
Ah me! ah me! all brought to pass, all true!
O light, may I behold thee nevermore!
I stand a wretch, in birth, in wedlock cursed,
A parricide, incestuously, triply cursed!
[Exit OEDIPUS]

CHORUS
(Str. 1)
Races of mortal man
Whose life is but a span,
I count ye but the shadow of a shade!
For he who most doth know
Of bliss, hath but the show;
A moment, and the visions pale and fade.
Thy fall, O Oedipus, thy piteous fall
Warns me none born of women blest to call.

(Ant. 1)
For he of marksmen best,
O Zeus, outshot the rest,
And won the prize supreme of wealth and power.
By him the vulture maid
Was quelled, her witchery laid;
He rose our savior and the land's strong tower.
We hailed thee king and from that day adored
Of mighty Thebes the universal lord.

(Str. 2)
O heavy hand of fate!
Who now more desolate,
Whose tale more sad than thine, whose lot more dire?
O Oedipus, discrowned head,
Thy cradle was thy marriage bed;
One harborage sufficed for son and sire.
How could the soil thy father eared so long
Endure to bear in silence such a wrong?

(Ant. 2)
All-seeing Time hath caught
Guilt, and to justice brought
The son and sire commingled in one bed.
O child of Laius' ill-starred race
Would I had ne'er beheld thy face;
I raise for thee a dirge as o'er the dead.
Yet, sooth to say, through thee I drew new breath,
And now through thee I feel a second death.
[Enter SECOND MESSENGER.]

SECOND MESSENGER
Most grave and reverend senators of Thebes,
What Deeds ye soon must hear, what sights behold
How will ye mourn, if, true-born patriots,
Ye reverence still the race of Labdacus!
Not Ister nor all Phasis' flood, I ween,
Could wash away the blood-stains from this house,
The ills it shrouds or soon will bring to light,
Ills wrought of malice, not unwittingly.
The worst to bear are self-inflicted wounds.

CHORUS
Grievous enough for all our tears and groans
Our past calamities; what canst thou add?

SECOND MESSENGER
My tale is quickly told and quickly heard.
Our sovereign lady queen Jocasta's dead.

CHORUS
Alas, poor queen! how came she by her death?

SECOND MESSENGER
By her own hand. And all the horror of it,
Not having seen, yet cannot comprehend.
Nathless, as far as my poor memory serves,
I will relate the unhappy lady's woe.
When in her frenzy she had passed inside
The vestibule, she hurried straight to win
The bridal-chamber, clutching at her hair
With both her hands, and, once within the room,
She shut the doors behind her with a crash.
"Laius," she cried, and called her husband dead
Long, long ago; 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, a monstrous progeny.
Then she bewailed the marriage bed whereon
Poor wretch, she had conceived a double brood,
Husband by husband, children by her child.
What happened after that I cannot tell,
Nor how the end befell, for with a shriek
Burst on us Oedipus; all eyes were fixed
On Oedipus, as up and down he strode,
Nor could we mark her agony to the end.
For stalking to and fro "A sword!" he cried,
"Where is the wife, no wife, the teeming womb
That bore a double harvest, me and mine?"
And in his frenzy some supernal power
(No mortal, surely, none of us who watched him)
Guided his footsteps; with a terrible shriek,
As though one beckoned him, he crashed against
The folding doors, and from their staples forced
The wrenched bolts and hurled himself within.
Then we beheld the woman hanging there,
A running noose entwined about her neck.
But when he saw her, with a maddened roar
He loosed the cord; and when her wretched corpse
Lay stretched on earth, what followed--O 'twas dread!
He tore the golden brooches that upheld
Her queenly robes, upraised them high and smote
Full on his eye-balls, uttering words like these:
"No more shall ye behold such sights of woe,
Deeds I have suffered and myself have wrought;
Henceforward quenched in darkness shall ye see
Those ye should ne'er have seen; now blind to those
Whom, when I saw, I vainly yearned to know."
Such was the burden of his moan, whereto,
Not once but oft, he struck with his hand uplift
His eyes, and at each stroke the ensanguined orbs
Bedewed his beard, not oozing drop by drop,
But one black gory downpour, thick as hail.
Such evils, issuing from the double source,
Have whelmed them both, confounding man and wife.
Till now the storied fortune of this house
Was fortunate indeed; but from this day
Woe, lamentation, ruin, death, disgrace,
All ills that can be named, all, all are theirs.

CHORUS
But hath he still no respite from his pain?

SECOND MESSENGER
He cries, "Unbar the doors and let all Thebes
Behold the slayer of his sire, his mother's--"
That shameful word my lips may not repeat.
He vows to fly self-banished from the land,
Nor stay to bring upon his house the curse
Himself had uttered; but he has no strength
Nor one to guide him, and his torture's more
Than man can suffer, as yourselves will see.
For lo, the palace portals are unbarred,
And soon ye shall behold a sight so sad
That he who must abhorred would pity it.
[Enter OEDIPUS blinded.]

CHORUS
Woeful sight! more woeful none
These sad eyes have looked upon.
Whence this madness? None can tell
Who did cast on thee his spell,
prowling all thy life around,
Leaping with a demon bound.
Hapless wretch! how can I brook
On thy misery to look?
Though to gaze on thee I yearn,
Much to question, much to learn,
Horror-struck away I turn.

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, on the demon goads. The end, ah where?

CHORUS
An end too dread to tell, too dark to see.

OEDIPUS
(Str. 1)
Dark, dark! The horror of darkness, like a shroud,
Wraps me and bears me on through mist and cloud.
Ah me, ah me! What spasms athwart me shoot,
What pangs of agonizing memory?

CHORUS
No marvel if in such a plight thou feel'st
The double weight of past and present woes.

OEDIPUS
(Ant. 1)
Ah friend, still loyal, constant still and kind,
Thou carest for the blind.
I know thee near, and though bereft of eyes,
Thy voice I recognize.

CHORUS
O doer of dread deeds, how couldst thou mar
Thy vision thus? What demon goaded thee?

OEDIPUS
(Str. 2)
Apollo, friend, Apollo, he it was
That brought these ills to pass;
But the right hand that dealt the blow
Was mine, none other. How,
How, could I longer see when sight
Brought no delight?

CHORUS
Alas! 'tis as thou sayest.

OEDIPUS
Say, friends, can any look or voice
Or touch of love henceforth my heart rejoice?
Haste, friends, no fond delay,
Take the twice cursed away
Far from all ken,
The man abhorred of gods, accursed of men.

CHORUS
O thy despair well suits thy desperate case.
Would I had never looked upon thy face!

OEDIPUS
(Ant. 2)
My curse on him whoe'er unrived
The waif's fell fetters and my life revived!
He meant me well, yet had he left me there,
He had saved my friends and me a world of care.

CHORUS
I too had wished it so.

OEDIPUS
Then had I never come to shed
My father's blood nor climbed my mother's bed;
The monstrous offspring of a womb defiled,
Co-mate of him who gendered me, and child.
Was ever man before afflicted thus,
Like Oedipus.

CHORUS
I cannot say that thou hast counseled well,
For thou wert better dead than living blind.

OEDIPUS
What's done was well done. Thou canst never shake
My firm belief. A truce to argument.
For, had I sight, I know not with what eyes
I could have met my father in the shades,
Or my poor mother, since against the twain
I sinned, a sin no gallows could atone.
Aye, but, ye say, the sight of children joys
A parent's eyes. What, born as mine were born?
No, such a sight could never bring me joy;
Nor this fair city with its battlements,
Its temples and the statues of its gods,
Sights from which I, now wretchedst of all,
Once ranked the foremost Theban in all Thebes,
By my own sentence am cut off, condemned
By my own proclamation 'gainst the wretch,
The miscreant by heaven itself declared
Unclean--and of the race of Laius.
Thus branded as a felon by myself,
How had I dared to look you in the face?
Nay, had I known a way to choke the springs
Of hearing, I had never shrunk to make
A dungeon of this miserable frame,
Cut off from sight and hearing; for 'tis bliss
to bide in regions sorrow cannot reach.
Why didst thou harbor me, Cithaeron, why
Didst thou not take and slay me? Then I never
Had shown to men the secret of my birth.
O Polybus, O Corinth, O my home,
Home of my ancestors (so wast thou called)
How fair a nursling then I seemed, how foul
The canker that lay festering in the bud!
Now is the blight revealed of root and fruit.
Ye triple high-roads, and thou hidden glen,
Coppice, and pass where meet the three-branched ways,
Ye drank my blood, the life-blood these hands spilt,
My father's; 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, thou didst give me birth,
And, having borne me, sowed again my seed,
Mingling the blood of fathers, brothers, children,
Brides, wives and mothers, an incestuous brood,
All horrors that are wrought beneath the sun,
Horrors so foul to name them were unmeet.
O, I adjure you, hide me anywhere
Far from this land, or slay me straight, or cast me
Down to the depths of ocean out of sight.
Come hither, deign to touch an abject wretch;
Draw near and fear not; I myself must bear
The load of guilt that none but I can share.
[Enter CREON.]

CREON
Lo, here is Creon, the one man to grant
Thy prayer by action or advice, for he
Is left the State's sole guardian in thy stead.

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.

CREON
Not in derision, Oedipus, I come
Nor to upbraid thee with thy past misdeeds.
(To BYSTANDERS)
But shame upon you! if ye feel no sense
Of human decencies, at least revere
The Sun whose light beholds and nurtures all.
Leave not thus nakedly for all to gaze at
A horror neither earth nor rain from heaven
Nor light will suffer. Lead him straight within,
For it is seemly that a kinsman's woes
Be heard by kin and seen by kin alone.

OEDIPUS
O listen, since thy presence comes to me
A shock of glad surprise--so noble thou,
And I so vile--O grant me one small boon.
I ask it not on my behalf, but thine.

CREON
And what the favor thou wouldst crave of me?

OEDIPUS
Forth from thy borders thrust me with all speed;
Set me within some vasty desert where
No mortal voice shall greet me any more.

CREON
This had I done already, but I deemed
It first behooved me to consult the god.

OEDIPUS
His will was set forth fully--to destroy
The parricide, the scoundrel; and I am he.

CREON
Yea, so he spake, but in our present plight
'Twere better to consult the god anew.

OEDIPUS
Dare ye inquire concerning such a wretch?

CREON
Yea, for thyself wouldst credit now his word.

OEDIPUS
Aye, and on thee in all humility
I lay this charge: let her who lies within
Receive such burial as thou shalt ordain;
Such rites 'tis thine, as brother, to perform.
But for myself, O never let my Thebes,
The city of my sires, be doomed to bear
The burden of my presence while I live.
No, let me be a dweller on the hills,
On yonder mount Cithaeron, famed as mine,
My tomb predestined for me by my sire
And mother, while they lived, that I may die
Slain as they sought to slay me, when alive.
This much I know full surely, nor disease
Shall end my days, nor any common chance;
For I had ne'er been snatched from death, unless
I was predestined to some awful doom.
So be it. I reck not how Fate deals with me
But my unhappy children--for my sons
Be not concerned, O Creon, they are men,
And for themselves, where'er they be, can fend.
But for my daughters twain, poor innocent maids,
Who ever sat beside me at the board
Sharing my viands, drinking of my cup,
For them, I pray thee, care, and, if thou willst,
O might I feel their touch and make my moan.
Hear me, O prince, my noble-hearted prince!
Could I but blindly touch them with my hands
I'd think they still were mine, as when I saw.
[ANTIGONE and ISMENE are led in.]
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; 'twas I procured thee this delight,
Knowing the joy they were to thee of old.

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,
Where are ye? Let me clasp you with these hands,
A brother's hands, a father's; hands that made
Lack-luster sockets of his once bright eyes;
Hands of a man who blindly, recklessly,
Became your sire by her from whom he sprang.
Though I cannot behold you, I must weep
In thinking of the evil days to come,
The slights and wrongs that men will put upon you.
Where'er ye go to feast or festival,
No merrymaking will it prove for you,
But oft abashed in tears ye will return.
And when ye come to marriageable years,
Where's the bold wooers who will jeopardize
To take unto himself such disrepute
As to my children's children still must cling,
For what of infamy is lacking here?
"Their father slew his father, sowed the seed
Where he himself was gendered, and begat
These maidens at the source wherefrom he sprang."
Such are the gibes that men will cast at you.
Who then will wed you? None, I ween, but ye
Must pine, poor maids, in single barrenness.
O Prince, Menoeceus' son, to thee, I turn,
With the it rests to father them, for we
Their natural parents, both of us, are lost.
O leave them not to wander poor, unwed,
Thy kin, nor let them share my low estate.
O pity them so young, and but for thee
All destitute. Thy hand upon it, Prince.
To you, my children I had much to say,
Were ye but ripe to hear. Let this suffice:
Pray ye may find some home and live content,
And may your lot prove happier than your sire's.

CREON
Thou hast had enough of weeping; pass within.

OEDIPUS
I must obey,
Though 'tis grievous.

CREON
Weep not, everything must have its day.

OEDIPUS
Well I go, but on conditions.

CREON
What thy terms for going, say.

OEDIPUS
Send me from the land an exile.

CREON
Ask this of the gods, not me.

OEDIPUS
But I am the gods' abhorrence.

CREON
Then they soon will grant thy plea.

OEDIPUS
Lead me hence, then, I am willing.

CREON
Come, but let thy children go.

OEDIPUS
Rob me not of these my children!

CREON
Crave not mastery in all,
For the mastery that raised thee was thy bane and wrought thy fall.

CHORUS
Look ye, countrymen and Thebans, this is Oedipus the great,
He who knew the Sphinx's riddle and was mightiest in our state.
Who of all our townsmen gazed not on his fame with envious eyes?
Now, in what a sea of troubles sunk and overwhelmed he lies!
Therefore wait to see life's ending ere thou count one mortal blest;
Wait till free from pain and sorrow he has gained his final rest.

FOOTNOTES
---------

1. Dr. Kennedy and others render "Since to men of experience I see
that also comparisons of their counsels are in most lively use."

2. Literally "not to call them thine," but the Greek may be rendered
"In order not to reveal thine."

3. The Greek text that occurs in this place has been lost.

*It should include the header from the top including small print*

SOPHOCLES

OEDIPUS AT COLONUS

Translation by F. Storr, BA
Formerly Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge
From the Loeb Library Edition
Originally published by
Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
and
William Heinemann Ltd, London

First published in 1912

----------------------------------------------------------------------

ARGUMENT

Oedipus, the blind and banished King of Thebes, has come in his
wanderings to Colonus, a deme of Athens, led by his daughter Antigone.
He sits to rest on a rock just within a sacred grove of the Furies and
is bidden depart by a passing native. But Oedipus, instructed by an
oracle that he had reached his final resting-place, refuses to stir,
and the stranger consents to go and consult the Elders of Colonus (the
Chorus of the Play). Conducted to the spot they pity at first the
blind beggar and his daughter, but on learning his name they are
horror-striken and order him to quit the land. He appeals to the
world-famed hospitality of Athens and hints at the blessings that his
coming will confer on the State. They agree to await the decision of
King Theseus. From Theseus Oedipus craves protection in life and
burial in Attic soil; the benefits that will accrue shall be told
later. Theseus departs having promised to aid and befriend him. No
sooner has he gone than Creon enters with an armed guard who seize
Antigone and carry her off (Ismene, the other sister, they have
already captured) and he is about to lay hands on Oedipus, when
Theseus, who has heard the tumult, hurries up and, upbraiding Creon
for his lawless act, threatens to detain him till he has shown where
the captives are and restored them. In the next scene Theseus returns
bringing with him the rescued maidens. He informs Oedipus that a
stranger who has taken sanctuary at the altar of Poseidon wishes to
see him. It is Polyneices who has come to crave his father's
forgiveness and blessing, knowing by an oracle that victory will fall
to the side that Oedipus espouses. But Oedipus spurns the hypocrite,
and invokes a dire curse on both his unnatural sons. A sudden clap of
thunder is heard, and as peal follows peal, Oedipus is aware that his
hour is come and bids Antigone summon Theseus. Self-guided he leads
the way to the spot where death should overtake him, attended by
Theseus and his daughters. Halfway he bids his daughters farewell,
and what followed none but Theseus knew. He was not (so the Messenger
reports) for the gods took him.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

OEDIPUS, banished King of Thebes.
ANTIGONE, his daughter.
ISMENE, his daughter.
THESEUS, King of Athens.
CREON, brother of Jocasta, now reigning at Thebes.
POLYNEICES, elder son of Oedipus.
STRANGER, a native of Colonus.
MESSENGER, an attendant of Theseus.
CHORUS, citizens of Colonus.

Scene: In front of the grove of the Eumenides.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

OEDIPUS AT COLONUS

Enter the blind OEDIPUS led by his daughter, ANTIGONE.

OEDIPUS
Child of an old blind sire, Antigone,
What region, say, whose city have we reached?
Who will provide today with scanted dole
This wanderer? 'Tis little that he craves,
And less obtains--that less enough for me;
For I am taught by suffering to endure,
And the long years that have grown old with me,
And last not least, by true nobility.
My daughter, if thou seest a resting place
On common ground or by some sacred grove,
Stay me and set me down. Let us discover
Where we have come, for strangers must inquire
Of denizens, and do as they are bid.

ANTIGONE
Long-suffering father, Oedipus, the towers
That fence the city still are faint and far;
But where we stand is surely holy ground;
A wilderness of laurel, olive, vine;
Within a choir or songster nightingales
Are warbling. On this native seat of rock
Rest; for an old man thou hast traveled far.

OEDIPUS
Guide these dark steps and seat me there secure.

ANTIGONE
If time can teach, I need not to be told.

OEDIPUS
Say, prithee, if thou knowest, where we are.

ANTIGONE
Athens I recognize, but not the spot.

OEDIPUS
That much we heard from every wayfarer.

ANTIGONE
Shall I go on and ask about the place?

OEDIPUS
Yes, daughter, if it be inhabited.

ANTIGONE
Sure there are habitations; but no need
To leave thee; yonder is a man hard by.

OEDIPUS
What, moving hitherward and on his way?

ANTIGONE
Say rather, here already. Ask him straight
The needful questions, for the man is here.
[Enter STRANGER]

OEDIPUS
O stranger, as I learn from her whose eyes
Must serve both her and me, that thou art here
Sent by some happy chance to serve our doubts--

STRANGER
First quit that seat, then question me at large:
The spot thou treadest on is holy ground.

OEDIPUS
What is the site, to what god dedicate?

STRANGER
Inviolable, untrod; goddesses,
Dread brood of Earth and Darkness, here abide.

OEDIPUS
Tell me the awful name I should invoke?

STRANGER
The Gracious Ones, All-seeing, so our folk
Call them, but elsewhere other names are rife.

OEDIPUS
Then may they show their suppliant grace, for I
From this your sanctuary will ne'er depart.

STRANGER
What word is this?

OEDIPUS
The watchword of my fate.

STRANGER
Nay, 'tis not mine to bid thee hence without
Due warrant and instruction from the State.

OEDIPUS
Now in God's name, O stranger, scorn me not
As a wayfarer; tell me what I crave.

STRANGER
Ask; your request shall not be scorned by me.

OEDIPUS
How call you then the place wherein we bide?

STRANGER
Whate'er I know thou too shalt know; the place
Is all to great Poseidon consecrate.
Hard by, the Titan, he who bears the torch,
Prometheus, has his worship; but the spot
Thou treadest, the Brass-footed Threshold named,
Is Athens' bastion, and the neighboring lands
Claim as their chief and patron yonder knight
Colonus, and in common bear his name.
Such, stranger, is the spot, to fame unknown,
But dear to us its native worshipers.

OEDIPUS
Thou sayest there are dwellers in these parts?

STRANGER
Surely; they bear the name of yonder god.

OEDIPUS
Ruled by a king or by the general voice?

STRANGER
The lord of Athens is our over-lord.

OEDIPUS
Who is this monarch, great in word and might?

STRANGER
Theseus, the son of Aegeus our late king.

OEDIPUS
Might one be sent from you to summon him?

STRANGER
Wherefore? To tell him aught or urge his coming?

OEDIPUS
Say a slight service may avail him much.

STRANGER
How can he profit from a sightless man?

OEDIPUS
The blind man's words will be instinct with sight.

STRANGER
Heed then; I fain would see thee out of harm;
For by the looks, marred though they be by fate,
I judge thee noble; tarry where thou art,
While I go seek the burghers--those at hand,
Not in the city. They will soon decide
Whether thou art to rest or go thy way.
[Exit STRANGER]

OEDIPUS
Tell me, my daughter, has the stranger gone?

ANTIGONE
Yes, he has gone; now we are all alone,
And thou may'st speak, dear father, without fear.

OEDIPUS
Stern-visaged queens, since coming to this land
First in your sanctuary I bent the knee,
Frown not on me or Phoebus, who, when erst
He told me all my miseries to come,
Spake of this respite after many years,
Some haven in a far-off land, a rest
Vouchsafed at last by dread divinities.
"There," said he, "shalt thou round thy weary life,
A blessing to the land wherein thou dwell'st,
But to the land that cast thee forth, a curse."
And of my weird he promised signs should come,
Earthquake, or thunderclap, or lightning flash.
And now I recognize as yours the sign
That led my wanderings to this your grove;
Else had I never lighted on you first,
A wineless man on your seat of native rock.
O goddesses, fulfill Apollo's word,
Grant me some consummation of my life,
If haply I appear not all too vile,
A thrall to sorrow worse than any slave.
Hear, gentle daughters of primeval Night,
Hear, namesake of great Pallas; Athens, first
Of cities, pity this dishonored shade,
The ghost of him who once was Oedipus.

ANTIGONE
Hush! for I see some grey-beards on their way,
Their errand to spy out our resting-place.

OEDIPUS
I will be mute, and thou shalt guide my steps
Into the covert from the public road,
Till I have learned their drift. A prudent man
Will ever shape his course by what he learns.
[Enter CHORUS]

CHORUS
(Str. 1)
Ha! Where is he? Look around!
Every nook and corner scan!
He the all-presumptuous man,
Whither vanished? search the ground!
A wayfarer, I ween,
A wayfarer, no countryman of ours,
That old man must have been;
Never had native dared to tempt the Powers,
Or enter their demesne,
The Maids in awe of whom each mortal cowers,
Whose name no voice betrays nor cry,
And as we pass them with averted eye,
We move hushed lips in reverent piety.
But now some godless man,
'Tis rumored, here abides;
The precincts through I scan,
Yet wot not where he hides,
The wretch profane!
I search and search in vain.

OEDIPUS
I am that man; I know you near
Ears to the blind, they say, are eyes.

CHORUS
O dread to see and dread to hear!

OEDIPUS
Oh sirs, I am no outlaw under ban.

CHORUS
Who can he be--Zeus save us!--this old man?

OEDIPUS
No favorite of fate,
That ye should envy his estate,
O, Sirs, would any happy mortal, say,
Grope by the light of other eyes his way,
Or face the storm upon so frail a stay?

CHORUS
(Ant. 1)
Wast thou then sightless from thy birth?
Evil, methinks, and long
Thy pilgrimage on earth.
Yet add not curse to curse and wrong to wrong.
I warn thee, trespass not
Within this hallowed spot,
Lest thou shouldst find the silent grassy glade
Where offerings are laid,
Bowls of spring water mingled with sweet mead.
Thou must not stay,
Come, come away,
Tired wanderer, dost thou heed?
(We are far off, but sure our voice can reach.)
If aught thou wouldst beseech,
Speak where 'tis right; till then refrain from speech.

OEDIPUS
Daughter, what counsel should we now pursue?

ANTIGONE
We must obey and do as here they do.

OEDIPUS
Thy hand then!

ANTIGONE
Here, O father, is my hand,

OEDIPUS
O Sirs, if I come forth at your command,
Let me not suffer for my confidence.

CHORUS
(Str. 2)
Against thy will no man shall drive thee hence.

OEDIPUS
Shall I go further?

CHORUS
Aye.

OEDIPUS
What further still?

CHORUS
Lead maiden, thou canst guide him where we will.

ANTIGONE [1]
* * * * * *

OEDIPUS
* * * * * *

ANTIGONE
* * * * * *
Follow with blind steps, father, as I lead.

OEDIPUS

* * * * * *

CHORUS
In a strange land strange thou art;
To her will incline thy heart;
Honor whatso'er the State
Honors, all she frowns on hate.

OEDIPUS
Guide me child, where we may range
Safe within the paths of right;
Counsel freely may exchange
Nor with fate and fortune fight.

CHORUS
(Ant. 2)
Halt! Go no further than that rocky floor.

OEDIPUS
Stay where I now am?

CHORUS
Yes, advance no more.

OEDIPUS
May I sit down?

CHORUS
Move sideways towards the ledge,
And sit thee crouching on the scarped edge.

ANTIGONE
This is my office, father, O incline--

OEDIPUS
Ah me! ah me!

ANTIGONE
Thy steps to my steps, lean thine aged frame on mine.

OEDIPUS
Woe on my fate unblest!

CHORUS
Wanderer, now thou art at rest,
Tell me of thy birth and home,
From what far country art thou come,
Led on thy weary way, declare!

OEDIPUS
Strangers, I have no country. O forbear--

CHORUS
What is it, old man, that thou wouldst conceal?

OEDIPUS
Forbear, nor urge me further to reveal--

CHORUS
Why this reluctance?

OEDIPUS
Dread my lineage.

CHORUS
Say!

OEDIPUS
What must I answer, child, ah welladay!

CHORUS
Say of what stock thou comest, what man's son--

OEDIPUS
Ah me, my daughter, now we are undone!

ANTIGONE
Speak, for thou standest on the slippery verge.

OEDIPUS
I will; no plea for silence can I urge.

CHORUS
Will neither speak? Come, Sir, why dally thus!

OEDIPUS
Know'st one of Laius'--

CHORUS
Ha? Who!

OEDIPUS
Seed of Labdacus--

CHORUS
Oh Zeus!

OEDIPUS
The hapless Oedipus.

CHORUS
Art he?

OEDIPUS
Whate'er I utter, have no fear of me.

CHORUS
Begone!

OEDIPUS
O wretched me!

CHORUS
Begone!

OEDIPUS
O daughter, what will hap anon?

CHORUS
Forth from our borders speed ye both!

OEDIPUS
How keep you then your troth?

CHORUS
Heaven's justice never smites
Him who ill with ill requites.
But if guile with guile contend,
Bane, not blessing, is the end.
Arise, begone and take thee hence straightway,
Lest on our land a heavier curse thou lay.

ANTIGONE
O sirs! ye suffered not my father blind,
Albeit gracious and to ruth inclined,
Knowing the deeds he wrought, not innocent,
But with no ill intent;
Yet heed a maiden's moan
Who pleads for him alone;
My eyes, not reft of sight,
Plead with you as a daughter's might
You are our providence,
O make us not go hence!
O with a gracious nod
Grant us the nigh despaired-of boon we crave?
Hear us, O hear,
But all that ye hold dear,
Wife, children, homestead, hearth and God!
Where will you find one, search ye ne'er so well.
Who 'scapes perdition if a god impel!

CHORUS
Surely we pity thee and him alike
Daughter of Oedipus, for your distress;
But as we reverence the decrees of Heaven
We cannot say aught other than we said.

OEDIPUS
O what avails renown or fair repute?
Are they not vanity? For, look you, now
Athens is held of States the most devout,
Athens alone gives hospitality
And shelters the vexed stranger, so men say.
Have I found so? I whom ye dislodged
First from my seat of rock and now would drive
Forth from your land, dreading my name alone;
For me you surely dread not, nor my deeds,
Deeds of a man more sinned against than sinning,
As I might well convince you, were it meet
To tell my mother's story and my sire's,
The cause of this your fear. Yet am I then
A villain born because in self-defense,
Striken, I struck the striker back again?
E'en had I known, no villainy 'twould prove:
But all unwitting whither I went, I went--
To ruin; my destroyers knew it well,
Wherefore, I pray you, sirs, in Heaven's name,
Even as ye bade me quit my seat, defend me.
O pay not a lip service to the gods
And wrong them of their dues. Bethink ye well,
The eye of Heaven beholds the just of men,
And the unjust, nor ever in this world
Has one sole godless sinner found escape.
Stand then on Heaven's side and never blot
Athens' fair scutcheon by abetting wrong.
I came to you a suppliant, and you pledged
Your honor; O preserve me to the end,
O let not this marred visage do me wrong!
A holy and god-fearing man is here
Whose coming purports comfort for your folk.
And when your chief arrives, whoe'er he be,
Then shall ye have my story and know all.
Meanwhile I pray you do me no despite.

CHORUS
The plea thou urgest, needs must give us pause,
Set forth in weighty argument, but we
Must leave the issue with the ruling powers.

OEDIPUS
Where is he, strangers, he who sways the realm?

CHORUS
In his ancestral seat; a messenger,
The same who sent us here, is gone for him.

OEDIPUS
And think you he will have such care or thought
For the blind stranger as to come himself?

CHORUS
Aye, that he will, when once he learns thy name.

OEDIPUS
But who will bear him word!

CHORUS
The way is long,
And many travelers pass to speed the news.
Be sure he'll hear and hasten, never fear;
So wide and far thy name is noised abroad,
That, were he ne'er so spent and loth to move,
He would bestir him when he hears of thee.

OEDIPUS
Well, may he come with blessing to his State
And me! Who serves his neighbor serves himself. [2]

ANTIGONE
Zeus! What is this? What can I say or think?

OEDIPUS
What now, Antigone?

ANTIGONE
I see a woman
Riding upon a colt of Aetna's breed;
She wears for headgear a Thessalian hat
To shade her from the sun. Who can it be?
She or a stranger? Do I wake or dream?
'This she; 'tis not--I cannot tell, alack;
It is no other! Now her bright'ning glance
Greets me with recognition, yes, 'tis she,
Herself, Ismene!

OEDIPUS
Ha! what say ye, child?

ANTIGONE
That I behold thy daughter and my sister,
And thou wilt know her straightway by her voice.
[Enter ISMENE]

ISMENE
Father and sister, names to me most sweet,
How hardly have I found you, hardly now
When found at last can see you through my tears!

OEDIPUS
Art come, my child?

ISMENE
O father, sad thy plight!

OEDIPUS
Child, thou art here?

ISMENE
Yes, 'twas a weary way.

OEDIPUS
Touch me, my child.

ISMENE
I give a hand to both.

OEDIPUS
O children--sisters!

ISMENE
O disastrous plight!

OEDIPUS
Her plight and mine?

ISMENE
Aye, and my own no less.

OEDIPUS
What brought thee, daughter?

ISMENE
Father, care for thee.

OEDIPUS
A daughter's yearning?

ISMENE
Yes, and I had news
I would myself deliver, so I came
With the one thrall who yet is true to me.

OEDIPUS
Thy valiant brothers, where are they at need?

ISMENE
They are--enough, 'tis now their darkest hour.

OEDIPUS
Out on the twain! The thoughts and actions all
Are framed and modeled on Egyptian ways.
For there the men sit at the loom indoors
While the wives slave abroad for daily bread.
So you, my children--those whom I behooved
To bear the burden, stay at home like girls,
While in their stead my daughters moil and drudge,
Lightening their father's misery. The one
Since first she grew from girlish feebleness
To womanhood has been the old man's guide
And shared my weary wandering, roaming oft
Hungry and footsore through wild forest ways,
In drenching rains and under scorching suns,
Careless herself of home and ease, if so
Her sire might have her tender ministry.
And thou, my child, whilom thou wentest forth,
Eluding the Cadmeians' vigilance,
To bring thy father all the oracles
Concerning Oedipus, and didst make thyself
My faithful lieger, when they banished me.
And now what mission summons thee from home,
What news, Ismene, hast thou for thy father?
This much I know, thou com'st not empty-handed,
Without a warning of some new alarm.

ISMENE
The toil and trouble, father, that I bore
To find thy lodging-place and how thou faredst,
I spare thee; surely 'twere a double pain
To suffer, first in act and then in telling;
'Tis the misfortune of thine ill-starred sons
I come to tell thee. At the first they willed
To leave the throne to Creon, minded well
Thus to remove the inveterate curse of old,
A canker that infected all thy race.
But now some god and an infatuate soul
Have stirred betwixt them a mad rivalry
To grasp at sovereignty and kingly power.
Today the hot-branded youth, the younger born,
Is keeping Polyneices from the throne,
His elder, and has thrust him from the land.
The banished brother (so all Thebes reports)
Fled to the vale of Argos, and by help
Of new alliance there and friends in arms,
Swears he will stablish Argos straight as lord
Of the Cadmeian land, or, if he fail,
Exalt the victor to the stars of heaven.
This is no empty tale, but deadly truth,
My father; and how long thy agony,
Ere the gods pity thee, I cannot tell.

OEDIPUS
Hast thou indeed then entertained a hope
The gods at last will turn and rescue me?

ISMENE
Yea, so I read these latest oracles.

OEDIPUS
What oracles? What hath been uttered, child?

ISMENE
Thy country (so it runs) shall yearn in time
To have thee for their weal alive or dead.

OEDIPUS
And who could gain by such a one as I?

ISMENE
On thee, 'tis said, their sovereignty depends.

OEDIPUS
So, when I cease to be, my worth begins.

ISMENE
The gods, who once abased, uplift thee now.

OEDIPUS
Poor help to raise an old man fallen in youth.

ISMENE
Howe'er that be, 'tis for this cause alone
That Creon comes to thee--and comes anon.

OEDIPUS
With what intent, my daughter? Tell me plainly.

ISMENE
To plant thee near the Theban land, and so
Keep thee within their grasp, yet now allow
Thy foot to pass beyond their boundaries.

OEDIPUS
What gain they, if I lay outside?

OEDIPUS
Thy tomb,
If disappointed, brings on them a curse.

OEDIPUS
It needs no god to tell what's plain to sense.

ISMENE
Therefore they fain would have thee close at hand,
Not where thou wouldst be master of thyself.

OEDIPUS
Mean they to shroud my bones in Theban dust?

ISMENE
Nay, father, guilt of kinsman's blood forbids.

OEDIPUS
Then never shall they be my masters, never!

ISMENE
Thebes, thou shalt rue this bitterly some day!

OEDIPUS
When what conjunction comes to pass, my child?

ISMENE
Thy angry wraith, when at thy tomb they stand. [3]

OEDIPUS
And who hath told thee what thou tell'st me, child?

ISMENE
Envoys who visited the Delphic hearth.

OEDIPUS
Hath Phoebus spoken thus concerning me?

ISMENE
So say the envoys who returned to Thebes.

OEDIPUS
And can a son of mine have heard of this?

ISMENE
Yea, both alike, and know its import well.

OEDIPUS
They knew it, yet the ignoble greed of rule
Outweighed all longing for their sire's return.

ISMENE
Grievous thy words, yet I must own them true.

OEDIPUS
Then may the gods ne'er quench their fatal feud,
And mine be the arbitrament of the fight,
For which they now are arming, spear to spear;
That neither he who holds the scepter now
May keep this throne, nor he who fled the realm
Return again. _They_ never raised a hand,
When I their sire was thrust from hearth and home,
When I was banned and banished, what recked they?
Say you 'twas done at my desire, a grace
Which the state, yielding to my wish, allowed?
Not so; for, mark you, on that very day
When in the tempest of my soul I craved
Death, even death by stoning, none appeared
To further that wild longing, but anon,
When time had numbed my anguish and I felt
My wrath had all outrun those errors past,
Then, then it was the city went about
By force to oust me, respited for years;
And then my sons, who should as sons have helped,
Did nothing: and, one little word from them
Was all I needed, and they spoke no word,
But let me wander on for evermore,
A banished man, a beggar. These two maids
Their sisters, girls, gave all their sex could give,
Food and safe harborage and filial care;
While their two brethren sacrificed their sire
For lust of power and sceptred sovereignty.
No! me they ne'er shall win for an ally,
Nor will this Theban kingship bring them gain;
That know I from this maiden's oracles,
And those old prophecies concerning me,
Which Phoebus now at length has brought to pass.
Come Creon then, come all the mightiest
In Thebes to seek me; for if ye my friends,
Championed by those dread Powers indigenous,
Espouse my cause; then for the State ye gain
A great deliverer, for my foemen bane.

CHORUS
Our pity, Oedipus, thou needs must move,
Thou and these maidens; and the stronger plea
Thou urgest, as the savior of our land,
Disposes me to counsel for thy weal.

OEDIPUS
Aid me, kind sirs; I will do all you bid.

CHORUS
First make atonement to the deities,
Whose grove by trespass thou didst first profane.

OEDIPUS
After what manner, stranger? Teach me, pray.

CHORUS
Make a libation first of water fetched
With undefiled hands from living spring.

OEDIPUS
And after I have gotten this pure draught?

CHORUS
Bowls thou wilt find, the carver's handiwork;
Crown thou the rims and both the handles crown--

OEDIPUS
With olive shoots or blocks of wool, or how?

CHORUS
With wool from fleece of yearling freshly shorn.

OEDIPUS
What next? how must I end the ritual?

CHORUS
Pour thy libation, turning to the dawn.

OEDIPUS
Pouring it from the urns whereof ye spake?

CHORUS
Yea, in three streams; and be the last bowl drained
To the last drop.

OEDIPUS
And wherewith shall I fill it,
Ere in its place I set it? This too tell.

CHORUS
With water and with honey; add no wine.

OEDIPUS
And when the embowered earth hath drunk thereof?

CHORUS
Then lay upon it thrice nine olive sprays
With both thy hands, and offer up this prayer.

OEDIPUS
I fain would hear it; that imports the most.

CHORUS
That, as we call them Gracious, they would deign
To grant the suppliant their saving grace.
So pray thyself or whoso pray for thee,
In whispered accents, not with lifted voice;
Then go and look back. Do as I bid,
And I shall then be bold to stand thy friend;
Else, stranger, I should have my fears for thee.

OEDIPUS
Hear ye, my daughters, what these strangers say?

ANTIGONE
We listened, and attend thy bidding, father.

OEDIPUS
I cannot go, disabled as I am
Doubly, by lack of strength and lack of sight;
But one of you may do it in my stead;
For one, I trow, may pay the sacrifice
Of thousands, if his heart be leal and true.
So to your work with speed, but leave me not
Untended; for this frame is all too week
To move without the help of guiding hand.

ISMENE
Then I will go perform these rites, but where
To find the spot, this have I yet to learn.

CHORUS
Beyond this grove; if thou hast need of aught,
The guardian of the close will lend his aid.

ISMENE
I go, and thou, Antigone, meanwhile
Must guard our father. In a parent's cause
Toil, if there be toil, is of no account.
[Exit ISMENE]

CHORUS
(Str. 1)
Ill it is, stranger, to awake
Pain that long since has ceased to ache,
And yet I fain would hear--

OEDIPUS
What thing?

CHORUS
Thy tale of cruel suffering
For which no cure was found,
The fate that held thee bound.

OEDIPUS
O bid me not (as guest I claim
This grace) expose my shame.

CHORUS
The tale is bruited far and near,
And echoes still from ear to ear.
The truth, I fain would hear.

OEDIPUS
Ah me!

CHORUS
I prithee yield.

OEDIPUS
Ah me!

CHORUS
Grant my request, I granted all to thee.

OEDIPUS
(Ant. 1)
Know then I suffered ills most vile, but none
(So help me Heaven!) from acts in malice done.

CHORUS
Say how.

OEDIPUS
The State around
An all unwitting bridegroom bound
An impious marriage chain;
That was my bane.

CHORUS
Didst thou in sooth then share
A bed incestuous with her that bare--

OEDIPUS
It stabs me like a sword,
That two-edged word,
O stranger, but these maids--my own--

CHORUS
Say on.

OEDIPUS
Two daughters, curses twain.

CHORUS
Oh God!

OEDIPUS
Sprang from the wife and mother's travail-pain.

CHORUS
(Str. 2)
What, then thy offspring are at once--

OEDIPUS
Too true.
Their father's very sister's too.

CHORUS
Oh horror!

OEDIPUS
Horrors from the boundless deep
Back on my soul in refluent surges sweep.

CHORUS
Thou hast endured--

OEDIPUS
Intolerable woe.

CHORUS
And sinned--

OEDIPUS
I sinned not.

CHORUS
How so?

OEDIPUS
I served the State; would I had never won
That graceless grace by which I was undone.

CHORUS
(Ant. 2)
And next, unhappy man, thou hast shed blood?

OEDIPUS
Must ye hear more?

CHORUS
A father's?

OEDIPUS
Flood on flood
Whelms me; that word's a second mortal blow.

CHORUS
Murderer!

OEDIPUS
Yes, a murderer, but know--

CHORUS
What canst thou plead?

OEDIPUS
A plea of justice.

CHORUS
How?

OEDIPUS
I slew who else would me have slain;
I slew without intent,
A wretch, but innocent
In the law's eye, I stand, without a stain.

CHORUS
Behold our sovereign, Theseus, Aegeus' son,
Comes at thy summons to perform his part.
[Enter THESEUS]

THESEUS
Oft had I heard of thee in times gone by--
The bloody mutilation of thine eyes--
And therefore know thee, son of Laius.
All that I lately gathered on the way
Made my conjecture doubly sure; and now
Thy garb and that marred visage prove to me
That thou art he. So pitying thine estate,
Most ill-starred Oedipus, I fain would know
What is the suit ye urge on me and Athens,
Thou and the helpless maiden at thy side.
Declare it; dire indeed must be the tale
Whereat _I_ should recoil. I too was reared,
Like thee, in exile, and in foreign lands
Wrestled with many perils, no man more.
Wherefore no alien in adversity
Shall seek in vain my succor, nor shalt thou;
I know myself a mortal, and my share
In what the morrow brings no more than thine.

OEDIPUS
Theseus, thy words so apt, so generous
So comfortable, need no long reply
Both who I am and of what lineage sprung,
And from what land I came, thou hast declared.
So without prologue I may utter now
My brief petition, and the tale is told.

THESEUS
Say on, and tell me what I fain would learn.

OEDIPUS
I come to offer thee this woe-worn frame,
A gift not fair to look on; yet its worth
More precious far than any outward show.

THESEUS
What profit dost thou proffer to have brought?

OEDIPUS
Hereafter thou shalt learn, not yet, methinks.

THESEUS
When may we hope to reap the benefit?

OEDIPUS
When I am dead and thou hast buried me.

THESEUS
Thou cravest life's last service; all before--
Is it forgotten or of no account?

OEDIPUS
Yea, the last boon is warrant for the rest.

THESEUS
The grace thou cravest then is small indeed.

OEDIPUS
Nay, weigh it well; the issue is not slight.

THESEUS
Thou meanest that betwixt thy sons and me?

OEDIPUS
Prince, they would fain convey me back to Thebes.

THESEUS
If there be no compulsion, then methinks
To rest in banishment befits not thee.

OEDIPUS
Nay, when _I_ wished it _they_ would not consent.

THESEUS
For shame! such temper misbecomes the faller.

OEDIPUS
Chide if thou wilt, but first attend my plea.

THESEUS
Say on, I wait full knowledge ere I judge.

OEDIPUS
O Theseus, I have suffered wrongs on wrongs.

THESEUS
Wouldst tell the old misfortune of thy race?

OEDIPUS
No, that has grown a byword throughout Greece.

THESEUS
What then can be this more than mortal grief?

OEDIPUS
My case stands thus; by my own flesh and blood
I was expelled my country, and can ne'er
Thither return again, a parricide.

THESEUS
Why fetch thee home if thou must needs obey.

THESEUS
What are they threatened by the oracle?

OEDIPUS
Destruction that awaits them in this land.

THESEUS
What can beget ill blood 'twixt them and me?

OEDIPUS
Dear son of Aegeus, to the gods alone
Is given immunity from eld and death;
But nothing else escapes all-ruinous time.
Earth's might decays, the might of men decays,
Honor grows cold, dishonor flourishes,
There is no constancy 'twixt friend and friend,
Or city and city; be it soon or late,
Sweet turns to bitter, hate once more to love.
If now 'tis sunshine betwixt Thebes and thee
And not a cloud, Time in his endless course
Gives birth to endless days and nights, wherein
The merest nothing shall suffice to cut
With serried spears your bonds of amity.
Then shall my slumbering and buried corpse
In its cold grave drink their warm life-blood up,
If Zeus be Zeus and Phoebus still speak true.
No more: 'tis ill to tear aside the veil
Of mysteries; let me cease as I began:
Enough if thou wilt keep thy plighted troth,
Then shall thou ne'er complain that Oedipus
Proved an unprofitable and thankless guest,
Except the gods themselves shall play me false.

CHORUS
The man, my lord, has from the very first
Declared his power to offer to our land
These and like benefits.

THESEUS
Who could reject
The proffered amity of such a friend?
First, he can claim the hospitality
To which by mutual contract we stand pledged:
Next, coming here, a suppliant to the gods,
He pays full tribute to the State and me;
His favors therefore never will I spurn,
But grant him the full rights of citizen;
And, if it suits the stranger here to bide,
I place him in your charge, or if he please
Rather to come with me--choose, Oedipus,
Which of the two thou wilt. Thy choice is mine.

OEDIPUS
Zeus, may the blessing fall on men like these!

THESEUS
What dost thou then decide--to come with me?

OEDIPUS
Yea, were it lawful--but 'tis rather here--

THESEUS
What wouldst thou here? I shall not thwart thy wish.

OEDIPUS
Here shall I vanquish those who cast me forth.

THESEUS
Then were thy presence here a boon indeed.

OEDIPUS
Such shall it prove, if thou fulfill'st thy pledge.

THESEUS
Fear not for me; I shall not play thee false.

OEDIPUS
No need to back thy promise with an oath.

THESEUS
An oath would be no surer than my word.

OEDIPUS
How wilt thou act then?

THESEUS
What is it thou fear'st?

OEDIPUS
My foes will come--

THESEUS
Our friends will look to that.

OEDIPUS
But if thou leave me?

THESEUS
Teach me not my duty.

OEDIPUS
'Tis fear constrains me.

THESEUS
_My_ soul knows no fear!

OEDIPUS
Thou knowest not what threats--

THESEUS
I know that none
Shall hale thee hence in my despite. Such threats
Vented in anger oft, are blusterers,
An idle breath, forgot when sense returns.
And for thy foemen, though their words were brave,
Boasting to bring thee back, they are like to find
The seas between us wide and hard to sail.
Such my firm purpose, but in any case
Take heart, since Phoebus sent thee here. My name,
Though I be distant, warrants thee from harm.

CHORUS
(Str. 1)
Thou hast come to a steed-famed land for rest,
O stranger worn with toil,
To a land of all lands the goodliest
Colonus' glistening soil.
'Tis the haunt of the clear-voiced nightingale,
Who hid in her bower, among
The wine-dark ivy that wreathes the vale,
Trilleth her ceaseless song;
And she loves, where the clustering berries nod
O'er a sunless, windless glade,
The spot by no mortal footstep trod,
The pleasance kept for the Bacchic god,
Where he holds each night his revels wild
With the nymphs who fostered the lusty child.

(Ant. 1)
And fed each morn by the pearly dew
The starred narcissi shine,
And a wreath with the crocus' golden hue
For the Mother and Daughter twine.
And never the sleepless fountains cease
That feed Cephisus' stream,
But they swell earth's bosom with quick increase,
And their wave hath a crystal gleam.
And the Muses' quire will never disdain
To visit this heaven-favored plain,
Nor the Cyprian queen of the golden rein.

(Str. 2)
And here there grows, unpruned, untamed,
Terror to foemen's spear,
A tree in Asian soil unnamed,
By Pelops' Dorian isle unclaimed,
Self-nurtured year by year;
'Tis the grey-leaved olive that feeds our boys;
Nor youth nor withering age destroys
The plant that the Olive Planter tends
And the Grey-eyed Goddess herself defends.

(Ant. 2)
Yet another gift, of all gifts the most
Prized by our fatherland, we boast--
The might of the horse, the might of the sea;
Our fame, Poseidon, we owe to thee,
Son of Kronos, our king divine,
Who in these highways first didst fit
For the mouth of horses the iron bit;
Thou too hast taught us to fashion meet
For the arm of the rower the oar-blade fleet,
Swift as the Nereids' hundred feet
As they dance along the brine.

ANTIGONE
Oh land extolled above all lands, 'tis now
For thee to make these glorious titles good.

OEDIPUS
Why this appeal, my daughter?

ANTIGONE
Father, lo!
Creon approaches with his company.

OEDIPUS
Fear not, it shall be so; if we are old,
This country's vigor has no touch of age.
[Enter CREON with attendants]

CREON
Burghers, my noble friends, ye take alarm
At my approach (I read it in your eyes),
Fear nothing and refrain from angry words.
I come with no ill purpose; I am old,
And know the city whither I am come,
Without a peer amongst the powers of Greece.
It was by reason of my years that I
Was chosen to persuade your guest and bring
Him back to Thebes; not the delegate
Of one man, but commissioned by the State,
Since of all Thebans I have most bewailed,

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