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The seven against thebes   


ETEOCLES and his retinue re-enter.

ETEOCLES addressing the CHORUS
Hark to my question, things detestable!
Is this aright and for the city's weal,
And helpful to our army thus beset,
That ye before the statues of our gods
Should fling yourselves, and scream and shriek your fears?
Immodest, uncontrolled! Be this my lot-
Never in troublous nor in peaceful days
To dwell with aught that wears a female form!
Where womankind has power, no man can house,
Where womankind feeds panic, ruin rules
Alike in house and city! Look you now-
Your flying feet, and rumour of your fears,
Have spread a soulless panic on our walls,
And they without do go from strength to strength,
And we within make breach upon ourselves!
Such fate it brings, to house with womankind.
Therefore if any shall resist my rule
Or man, or woman, or some sexless thing-
The vote of sentence shall decide their doom,
And stones of execution, past escape,
Shall finish all. Let not a woman's voice
Be loud in council! for the things without,
A man must care; let women keep within-
Even then is mischief all too probable!
Hear ye? or speak I to unheeding ears?
CHORUS chanting
Ah, but I shudder, child of Oedipus!
I heard the clash and clang!
The axles rolled and rumbled; woe to us,
Fire-welded bridles rang!
Say-when a ship is strained and deep in brine,
Did eer a seaman mend his chance, who left
The helm, t' invoke the image at the prow?
CHORUS chanting
Ah, but I fled to the shrines, I called to our helpers on high,
When the stone-shower roared at the portals!
I sped to the temples aloft, and loud was my call and my cry,
Look down and deliver, Immortals!
ETEOCLES
Ay, pray amain that stone may vanquish steel!
Where not that grace of gods? ay, ay-methinks,
When cities fall, the gods go forth from them!
CHORUS chanting
Ah, let me die, or ever I behold
The gods go forth, in conflagration dire!
The foemen's rush and raid, and all our hold
Wrapt in the burning fire!
ETEOCLES
Cry not on Heaven, in impotent debate!
What saith the saw?-Good saving Strength, in verity,
Out of Obedience breeds the babe Prosperity.
CHORUS chanting
'Tis true: yet stronger is the power divine,
And oft, when man's estate is overbowed
With bitter pangs, disperses from his eyne
The heavy, hanging cloud!
ETEOCLES
Let men with sacrifice and augury
Approach the gods, when comes the tug of war:
Alaids must be silent and abide within.
CHORUS chanting

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