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OEDIPUS AT COLONUS by Sophocles, Part 17


POLYNEICES
That cannot be. How could I lead again
An army that had seen their leader quail?

ANTIGONE
But, brother, why shouldst thou be wroth again?
What profit from thy country's ruin comes?

POLYNEICES
'Tis shame to live in exile, and shall I
The elder bear a younger brother's flouts?

ANTIGONE
Wilt thou then bring to pass his prophecies
Who threatens mutual slaughter to you both?

POLYNEICES
Aye, so he wishes:--but I must not yield.

ANTIGONE
O woe is me! but say, will any dare,
Hearing his prophecy, to follow thee?

POLYNEICES
I shall not tell it; a good general
Reports successes and conceals mishaps.

ANTIGONE
Misguided youth, thy purpose then stands fast!

POLYNEICES
'Tis so, and stay me not. The road I choose,
Dogged by my sire and his avenging spirit,
Leads me to ruin; but for you may Zeus
Make your path bright if ye fulfill my hest
When dead; in life ye cannot serve me more.
Now let me go, farewell, a long farewell!
Ye ne'er shall see my living face again.

ANTIGONE
Ah me!

POLYNEICES
Bewail me not.

ANTIGONE
Who would not mourn
Thee, brother, hurrying to an open pit!

POLYNEICES
If I must die, I must.

ANTIGONE
Nay, hear me plead.

POLYNEICES
It may not be; forbear.

ANTIGONE
Then woe is me, If I must lose thee.

POLYNEICES
Nay, that rests with fate,
Whether I live or die; but for you both
I pray to heaven ye may escape all ill;
For ye are blameless in the eyes of all.
Exit POLYNEICES

CHORUS
strophe 1

Ills on ills! no pause or rest!
Come they from our sightless guest?
Or haply now we see fulfilled
What fate long time hath willed?
For ne'er have I proved vain
Aught that the heavenly powers ordain.
Time with never sleeping eye
Watches what is writ on high,
Overthrowing now the great,
Raising now from low estate.
Hark! How the thunder rumbles! Zeus defend us!

OEDIPUS
Children, my children! will no messenger
Go summon hither Theseus my best friend?

ANTIGONE
And wherefore, father, dost thou summon him?

OEDIPUS
This winged thunder of the god must bear me
Anon to Hades. Send and tarry not.

CHORUS
antistrophe 1

Hark! with louder, nearer roar
The bolt of Zeus descends once more.
My spirit quails and cowers: my hair
Bristles for fear. Again that flare!
What doth the lightning-flash portend?
Ever it points to issues grave.
Dread powers of air! Save, Zeus, O save!

OEDIPUS
Daughters, upon me the predestined end
Has come; no turning from it any more.

ANTIGONE
How knowest thou? What sign convinces thee?

OEDIPUS
I know full well. Let some one with all speed
Go summon hither the Athenian prince.

CHORUS
strophe 2

Ha! once more the deafening sound
Peals yet louder all around
If thou darkenest our land,
Lightly, lightly lay thy hand;
Grace, not anger, let me win,
If upon a man of sin
I have looked with pitying eye,
Zeus, our king, to thee I cry!

OEDIPUS
Is the prince coming? Will he when he comes
Find me yet living and my senses clear!

ANTIGONE
What solemn charge would'st thou impress on him?

OEDIPUS
For all his benefits I would perform
The promise made when I received them first.

CHORUS
antistrophe 2

Hither haste, my son, arise,
Altar leave and sacrifice,
If haply to Poseidon now
In the far glade thou pay'st thy vow.
For our guest to thee would bring
And thy folk and offering,
Thy due guerdon. Haste, O King!
Enter Theseus

 

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