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Sophocles Index


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OEDIPUS AT COLONUS by Sophocles, Part 04


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.

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.

 

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