THE SEVEN AGAINST THEBES by Aeschylus, Part 10
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Heed women's voices, though thou love them not!
Say aught that may avail, but stint thy words.
Go not thou forth to guard the seventh gate!
Words shall not blunt the edge of my resolve.
Yet the god loves to let the weak prevail.
That to a swordsman, is no welcome word!
Shall thine own brother's blood be victory's palm?
Ill which the gods have sent thou canst no-shun!
(ETEOCLES goes out.)
I shudder in dread of the power, abhorred by the gods of high
The ruinous curse of the home till roof-tree and rafter be riven!
Too true are the visions of ill, too true the fulfilment they
To the curse that was spoken of old by the frenzy and wrath of the
Her will is the doom of the children, and Discord is kindled
And strange is the Lord of Division, who cleaveth the birthright
The edged thing, born of the north, the steel that is ruthless
Dividing in bitter division the lot of the children of teen!
Not the wide lowland around, the realm of their sire, shall they
Yet enough for the dead to inherit, the pitiful space of a grave!
Ah, but when kin meets kin, when sire and child,
Unknowing, are defiled
By shedding common blood, and when the pit
Of death devoureth it,
Drinking the clotted stain, the gory dye-
Who, who can purify?
Who cleanse pollution, where the ancient bane
Rises and reeks again?
Whilome in olden days the sin was wrought,
And swift requital brought-
Yea on the children of the child came still
New heritage of ill!
For thrice Apollo spoke this word divine,
From Delphi's central shrine,
To Laius-Die thou childless! thus alone
Can the land's weal be won!
But vainly with his wife's desire he strove,
And gave himself to love,
Begetting Oedipus, by whom he died,
The fateful parricide!
The sacred seed-plot, his own mother's womb,
He sowed, his house's doom,
A root of blood! by frenzy lured, they came
Unto their wedded shame.
And now the waxing surge, the wave of fate,
Rolls on them, triply great-
One billow sinks, the next towers, high and dark,
Above our city's bark-
Only the narrow barrier of the wal
Totters, as soon to fall;
And, if our chieftains in the storm go down,
What chance can save the town?
Curses, inherited from long ago,
Bring heavy freight of woe:
Rich stores of merchandise o'erload the deck,
Near, nearer comes the wreck-
And all is lost, cast out upon the wave,
Floating, with none to save!
Whom did the gods, whom did the chief of men,
Whom did each citizen
In crowded concourse, in such honour hold,
As Oedipus of old,
When the grim fiend, that fed on human prey,
He took from us away?