PHILOCTETES by Sophocles, Part 05
Thersites, ever talking, never heard.
I have not seen him, but I hear he lives.
I did not doubt it: evil never dies;
The gods take care of that. If aught there be
Fraudful and vile, 'tis safe; the good and just
Perish unpitied by them. Wherefore is it?
When gods do ill, why should we worship them?
Since thus it is, since virtue is oppressed,
And vice triumphant, who deserve to live
Are doomed to perish, and the guilty reign.
Henceforth, O son of Poeas! far from Troy
And the Atreidae will I live remote.
I would not see the man I cannot love.
My barren Scyros shall afford me refuge,
And home- felt joys delight my future days.
So, fare thee well, and may th' indulgent gods
Heal thy sad wound, and grant thee every wish
Thy soul can form! Once more, farewell! I go,
The first propitious gale.
What! now, my son?
Immediately; the time demands
We should be near, and ready to depart.
Now, by the memory of thy honoured sire,
By thy loved mother, by whate'er remains
On earth most dear to thee, oh! hear me now,
Thy suppliant! Do not, do not thus forsake me,
Alone, oppressed, deserted, as thou seest,
In this sad place. I shall, I know it must, be
A burthen to thee. But, oh! bear it kindly;
For ever doth the noble mind abhor
Th' ungenerous deed, and loves humanity;
Disgrace attends thee if thou dost forsake me,
If not, immortal fame rewards thy goodness.
Thou mayst convey me safe to Oeta's shores
In one short day; I'll trouble you no longer.
Hide me in any part where I may least
Molest you. Hear me! By the guardian god
Of the poor suppliant, all- protecting Jove,
I beg. Behold me at thy feet, infirm,
And wretched as I am, I clasp thy knees.
Leave me not here then, where there is no mark
Of human footstep- take me to thy home!
Or to Euboea's port, to Oeta, thence
Short is the way to Trachin, or the banks
Of Spercheius' gentle stream, to meet my father,
If yet he lives; for, oh! I begged him oft
By those who hither came, to fetch me hence-
Or is he dead, or they neglectful bent
Their hasty course to their own native soil.
Be thou my better guide! Pity and save
The poor and wretched. Think, my son, how frail
And full of danger is the state of man-
Now prosperous, now adverse. Who feels no ills
Should therefore fear them; and when fortune smiles
Be doubly cautious, lest destruction come
Remorseless on him, and he fall unpitied.
Oh, pity him, my lord, for bitterest woes
And trials most severe he hath recounted;
Far be such sad distress from those I love!
Oh! if thou hat'st the base Atreidae, now
Revenge thee on them, serve their deadliest foe;
Bear the poor suppliant to his native soil;
So shalt thou bless thy friend, and 'scape the wrath
Of the just gods, who still protect the wretched.
Your proffered kindness, friends, may cost you dear;
When you shall feel his dreadful malady
Oppress you sore, you will repent it.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
Shall that reproach be ours.
In generous pity
Of the afflicted thus to be o'ercome
Were most disgraceful to me; he shall go.
May the kind gods speed our departure hence,
And guide our vessels to the wished-for shore!
O happy hour! O kindest, best of men!
And you my dearest friends! how shall I thank you?
What shall I do to show my grateful heart?
Let us be gone! But, oh! permit me first
To take a last farewell of my poor hut,
Where I so long have lived. Perhaps you'll say
I must have had a noble mind to bear it.
The very sight to any eyes but mine
Were horrible, but sad necessity
At length prevailed, and made it pleasing to me.
One from our ship, my lord, and with him comes The Spy enters, dressed as a merchant. He is accompanied by one of NEOPTOLEMUS'men.
A stranger. Stop a moment till we hear
Their business with us.
Son of great Achilles,
Know, chance alone hath brought me hither, driven
By adverse winds to where thy vessels lay,
As home I sailed from Troy. There did I meet
This my companion, who informed me where
Thou mightst be found. Hence to pursue my course
And not to tell thee what concerns thee near
Had been ungenerous, thou perhaps meantime
Of Greece and of her counsels naught suspecting,
Counsels against thee not by threats alone
Or words enforced, but now in execution.
Now by my virtue, stranger, for thy news
I am much bound to thee, and will repay
Thy service. Tell me what the Greeks have done.
A fleet already sails to fetch thee back,
Conducted by old Phoenix, and the sons
Of valiant Theseus.
Come they then to force me?
Or am I to be won by their persuasion?
I know not that; you have what I could learn.
And did the' Atreidae send them?
Sent they are,
And will be with you soon.