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THE SEVEN AGAINST THEBES by Aeschylus, Part 03

strophe 3

O gods and O sisters of gods, our bulwark and guard! we beseech
That ye give not our war-worn hold to a rabble of alien speech!
List to the call of the maidens, the hands held up for the right,

antistrophe 3

Be near us, protect us, and show that the city is dear in your
sight!
Have heed for her sacrifice holy, and thought of her offerings
take,
Forget not her love and her worship, be near her and smite for
her sake!
(ETEOCLES and his retinue re-enter.)
ETEOCLES (addressing the CHORUS)
Hark to my question, things detestable!
Is this aright and for the city's weal,
And helpful to our army thus beset,
That ye before the statues of our gods
Should fling yourselves, and scream and shriek your fears?
Immodest, uncontrolled! Be this my lot-
Never in troublous nor in peaceful days
To dwell with aught that wears a female form!
Where womankind has power, no man can house,
Where womankind feeds panic, ruin rules
Alike in house and city! Look you now-
Your flying feet, and rumour of your fears,
Have spread a soulless panic on our walls,
And they without do go from strength to strength,
And we within make breach upon ourselves!
Such fate it brings, to house with womankind.
Therefore if any shall resist my rule
Or man, or woman, or some sexless thing-
The vote of sentence shall decide their doom,
And stones of execution, past escape,
Shall finish all. Let not a woman's voice
Be loud in council! for the things without,
A man must care; let women keep within-
Even then is mischief all too probable!
Hear ye? or speak I to unheeding ears?
CHORUS (chanting)
Ah, but I shudder, child of Oedipus!
I heard the clash and clang!
The axles rolled and rumbled; woe to us,
Fire-welded bridles rang!
Say-when a ship is strained and deep in brine,
Did eer a seaman mend his chance, who left
The helm, t' invoke the image at the prow?
CHORUS (chanting)
Ah, but I fled to the shrines, I called to our helpers on high,
When the stone-shower roared at the portals!
I sped to the temples aloft, and loud was my call and my cry,
Look down and deliver, Immortals!
ETEOCLES
Ay, pray amain that stone may vanquish steel!
Where not that grace of gods? ay, ay-methinks,
When cities fall, the gods go forth from them!
CHORUS (chanting)
Ah, let me die, or ever I behold
The gods go forth, in conflagration dire!
The foemen's rush and raid, and all our hold
Wrapt in the burning fire!
ETEOCLES
Cry not on Heaven, in impotent debate!
What saith the saw?-Good saving Strength, in verity,
Out of Obedience breeds the babe Prosperity.
CHORUS (chanting)
'Tis true: yet stronger is the power divine,
And oft, when man's estate is overbowed
With bitter pangs, disperses from his eyne
The heavy, hanging cloud!
ETEOCLES
Let men with sacrifice and augury
Approach the gods, when comes the tug of war:
Alaids must be silent and abide within.
CHORUS (chanting)
By grace of the gods we hold it, a city untamed of the spear,
And the battlement wards from the wall the foe and his aspect of
fear!
What need of displeasure herein?
ETEOCLES
Ay, pay thy vows to Heaven; I grudge them not,
But-so thou strike no fear into our men-
Have calm at heart, nor be too much afraid.
Alack, it is fresh in mine ears, the clamour and crash of the
fray,
And up to our holiest height I sped on my timorous way,
Bewildered, beset by the din!
ETEOCLES
Now, if ye hear the bruit of death or wounds,
Give not yourselves o'ermuch to shriek and scream,
For Ares ravins upon human flesh.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Ah, but the snorting of the steeds I hear!
ETEOCLES
Then, if thou hearest, hear them not too well
LEADER
Hark, the earth rumbles, as they close us round!
ETEOCLES
Enough if I am here, with plans prepared.

 

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