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OEDIPUS AT COLONUS by Sophocles, Part 07


ANTIGONE
We listened, and attend thy bidding, father.

OEDIPUS
I cannot go, disabled as I am
Doubly, by lack of strength and lack of sight;
But one of you may do it in my stead;
For one, I trow, may pay the sacrifice
Of thousands, if his heart be leal and true.
So to your work with speed, but leave me not
Untended; for this frame is all too week
To move without the help of guiding hand.

ISMENE
Then I will go perform these rites, but where
To find the spot, this have I yet to learn.

CHORUS
Beyond this grove; if thou hast need of aught,
The guardian of the close will lend his aid.

ISMENE
I go, and thou, Antigone, meanwhile
Must guard our father. In a parent's cause
Toil, if there be toil, is of no account.
Exit ISMENE

CHORUS
strophe 1

Ill it is, stranger, to awake
Pain that long since has ceased to ache,
And yet I fain would hear--

OEDIPUS
What thing?

CHORUS
Thy tale of cruel suffering
For which no cure was found,
The fate that held thee bound.

OEDIPUS
O bid me not (as guest I claim
This grace) expose my shame.

CHORUS
The tale is bruited far and near,
And echoes still from ear to ear.
The truth, I fain would hear.

OEDIPUS
Ah me!

CHORUS
I prithee yield.

OEDIPUS
Ah me!

CHORUS
Grant my request, I granted all to thee.

OEDIPUS
antistrophe 1

Know then I suffered ills most vile, but none
(So help me Heaven!) from acts in malice done.

CHORUS
Say how.

OEDIPUS
The State around
An all unwitting bridegroom bound
An impious marriage chain;
That was my bane.

CHORUS
Didst thou in sooth then share
A bed incestuous with her that bare--

OEDIPUS
It stabs me like a sword,
That two-edged word,
O stranger, but these maids--my own--

CHORUS
Say on.

OEDIPUS
Two daughters, curses twain.

CHORUS
Oh God!

OEDIPUS
Sprang from the wife and mother's travail-pain.

CHORUS
strophe 2

What, then thy offspring are at once--

OEDIPUS
Too true. Their father's very sister's too.

CHORUS
Oh horror!

OEDIPUS
Horrors from the boundless deep
Back on my soul in refluent surges sweep.

CHORUS
Thou hast endured--

OEDIPUS
Intolerable woe.

CHORUS
And sinned--

OEDIPUS
I sinned not.

CHORUS
How so?

OEDIPUS
I served the State; would I had never won
That graceless grace by which I was undone.

CHORUS
antistrophe 2

And next, unhappy man, thou hast shed blood?

OEDIPUS
Must ye hear more?

CHORUS
A father's?

OEDIPUS
Flood on flood
Whelms me; that word's a second mortal blow.

CHORUS
Murderer!

 

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