THE SEVEN AGAINST THEBES by Aeschylus, Part 11
But when, in the fulness of days, he knew of his bridal unblest,
A twofold horror he wrought, in the frenzied despair of his
Debarred from the grace of the banquet, the service of goblets
He flung on his children a curse for the splendour they dared to
A curse prophetic and bitter-The glory of wealth and of pride,
With iron, not gold, in your hands, ye shall come, at the last,
Behold, how a shudder runs through me, lest now, in the fulness
The house-fiend awake and return, to mete out the measure of
(THE SPY enters.)
Take heart, ye daughters whom your mothers' milk
Made milky-hearted! lo, our city stands,
Saved from the yoke of servitude: the vaunts
Of overweening men are silent now,
And the State sails beneath a sky serene,
Nor in the manifold and battering waves
Hath shipped a single surge, and solid stands
The rampart, and the gates are made secure,
Each with a single champion's trusty guard.
So in the main and at six gates we hold
A victory assured; but, at the seventh,
The god that on the seventh day was born,
Royal Apollo, hath ta'en up his rest
To wreak upon the sons of Oedipus
Their grandsire's wilfulness of long ago.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
What further woefulness besets our home?
The home stands safe-but ah, the princes twain-
Who? what of them? I am distraught with fear.
Hear now, and mark! the sons of Oedipus-
Ah, my prophetic soul! I feel their doom.
Have done with questions!-with I-with their lives crushed out-
Lie they out yonder? the full horror speak!
Did hands meet hands more close than brotherly?
Came fate on each. and in the selfsame hour?
Yea, blotting out the lineage ill-starred!
Now mix your exultation and your tears,
Over a city saved, the while its lords,
Twin LEADERs of the fight, have parcelled out
With forged arbitrament of Scythian steel
The full division of their fatherland,
And, as their father's imprecation bade,
Shall have their due of land, a twofold grave.
So is the city saved; the earth has drunk
Blood of twin princes, by each other slain.
O mighty Zeus and guardian powers,
The strength and stay of Cadmus' towers!
Shall I send forth a joyous cry,
Hail to the lord of weal renewed?
Or weep the misbegotten twain,
Born to a fatal destiny
Each numbered now among the slain,
Each dying in ill fortitude,
Each truly named, each child of feud?
O dark and all-prevailing ill,
That broods o'er Oedipus and all his line,
Numbing my heart with mortal chill!
Ah me, this song of mine,
Which, Thyad-like, I woke, now falleth still,
Or only tells of doom,
And echoes round a tomb!
Dead are they, dead! in their own blood they lie
Ill-omened the concent that hails our victory!
The curse a father on his children spake
Hath faltered not, nor failed!
Nought, Laius! thy stubborn choice availed-
First to beget, then, in the after day
And for the city's sake,
The child to slay!
For nought can blunt nor mar
The speech oracular!
Children of teen! by disbelief ye erred-
Yet in wild weeping came fulfilment of the word!
(ANTIGONE and ISMENE approach, with a train of mourners.
bearing the bodies of ETEOCLES and POLYNEICES.)
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