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OEDIPUS AT COLONUS by Sophocles, Part 09


CHORUS
The man, my lord, has from the very first
Declared his power to offer to our land
These and like benefits.

Theseus
Who could reject
The proffered amity of such a friend?
First, he can claim the hospitality
To which by mutual contract we stand pledged:
Next, coming here, a suppliant to the gods,
He pays full tribute to the State and me;
His favors therefore never will I spurn,
But grant him the full rights of citizen;
And, if it suits the stranger here to bide,
I place him in your charge, or if he please
Rather to come with me--choose, Oedipus,
Which of the two thou wilt. Thy choice is mine.

OEDIPUS
Zeus, may the blessing fall on men like these!

Theseus
What dost thou then decide--to come with me?

OEDIPUS
Yea, were it lawful--but 'tis rather here--

Theseus
What wouldst thou here? I shall not thwart thy wish.

OEDIPUS
Here shall I vanquish those who cast me forth.

Theseus
Then were thy presence here a boon indeed.

OEDIPUS
Such shall it prove, if thou fulfill'st thy pledge.

Theseus
Fear not for me; I shall not play thee false.

OEDIPUS
No need to back thy promise with an oath.

Theseus
An oath would be no surer than my word.

OEDIPUS
How wilt thou act then?

Theseus
What is it thou fear'st?

OEDIPUS
My foes will come--

Theseus
Our friends will look to that.

OEDIPUS
But if thou leave me?

Theseus
Teach me not my duty.

OEDIPUS
'Tis fear constrains me.

Theseus
My soul knows no fear!

OEDIPUS
Thou knowest not what threats--

Theseus
I know that none
Shall hale thee hence in my despite. Such threats
Vented in anger oft, are blusterers,
An idle breath, forgot when sense returns.
And for thy foemen, though their words were brave,
Boasting to bring thee back, they are like to find
The seas between us wide and hard to sail.
Such my firm purpose, but in any case
Take heart, since Phoebus sent thee here. My name,
Though I be distant, warrants thee from harm.

CHORUS
strophe 1

Thou hast come to a steed-famed land for rest,
O stranger worn with toil,
To a land of all lands the goodliest
Colonus' glistening soil.
'Tis the haunt of the clear-voiced nightingale,
Who hid in her bower, among
The wine-dark ivy that wreathes the vale,
Trilleth her ceaseless song;
And she loves, where the clustering berries nod
O'er a sunless, windless glade,
The spot by no mortal footstep trod,
The pleasance kept for the Bacchic god,
Where he holds each night his revels wild
With the nymphs who fostered the lusty child.

antistrophe 1

And fed each morn by the pearly dew
The starred narcissi shine,
And a wreath with the crocus' golden hue
For the Mother and Daughter twine.
And never the sleepless fountains cease
That feed Cephisus' stream,
But they swell earth's bosom with quick increase,
And their wave hath a crystal gleam.
And the Muses' quire will never disdain
To visit this heaven-favored plain,
Nor the Cyprian queen of the golden rein.

strophe 2

And here there grows, unpruned, untamed,
Terror to foemen's spear,
A tree in Asian soil unnamed,
By Pelops' Dorian isle unclaimed,
Self-nurtured year by year;
'Tis the grey-leaved olive that feeds our boys;
Nor youth nor withering age destroys
The plant that the Olive Planter tends
And the Grey-eyed Goddess herself defends.

antistrophe 2

Yet another gift, of all gifts the most
Prized by our fatherland, we boast--
The might of the horse, the might of the sea;
Our fame, Poseidon, we owe to thee,
Son of Kronos, our king divine,
Who in these highways first didst fit
For the mouth of horses the iron bit;
Thou too hast taught us to fashion meet
For the arm of the rower the oar-blade fleet,
Swift as the Nereids' hundred feet
As they dance along the brine.

 

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