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OEDIPUS AT COLONUS by Sophocles, Part 01

Oedipus at Colonus

By Sophocles

Translated by F. Storr

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


Scene

In front of the grove of the Eumenides.

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


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.

 

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