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The Phoenissae   


ETEOCLES I am treated just the same.
POLYNEICES Where wilt thou be stationed before the towers?
ETEOCLES Why ask me this?
POLYNEICES I will array myself against thee for thy death.
ETEOCLES I too have the same desire.
JOCASTA Woe is me! what will ye do, my sons?
POLYNEICES The event will show.
JOCASTA Oh, fly your father's curse! (JOCASTA enters the palace.)
ETEOCLES Destruction seize our whole house!
POLYNEICES Soon shall my sword be busy, plunged in gore. But I call
my native land and heaven too to witness, with what contumely and
bitter treatment I am being driven forth, as though I were a slave,
not a son of Oedipus as much as he. If aught happen to thee, my city,
blame him, not me; for I came not willingly, and all unwillingly am
I driven hence. Farewell, king Phoebus, lord of highways; farewell
palace and comrades; farewell ye statues of the gods, at which men
offer sheep; for I know not if shall ever again address you, though
hope is still awake, which makes me confident that with heaven's help
I shall slay this fellow and rule my native Thebes. (POLYNEICES departs.)
ETEOCLES Forth from the land! 'twas a true name our father gave thee,
when, prompted by some god, he called thee Polyneices, a name denoting
strife.
CHORUS (singing, strophe)
To this land came Cadmus of Tyre, at whose feet an unyoked heifer
threw itself down, giving effect to an oracle on the spot where the
god's response bade him take up his abode in Aonia's rich cornlands,
where gushing Dirce's fair rivers of water pour o'er verdant fruitful
fields; here was born the Bromian god by her whom Zeus made a mother,
round whom the ivy twined its wreaths while he was yet a babe, swathing
him amid the covert of its green foliage as child of happy destiny,
to be a theme for Bacchic revelry among the maids and wives inspired
in Thebes.
(antistrophe)
There lay Ares' murderous dragon, a savage warder, watching with
roving eye the watered glens and quickening streams; him did Cadmus
slay with a jagged stone, when he came thither to draw him lustral
water, smiting that fell head with a blow of his death-dealing arm;
but by the counsel of Pallas, motherless goddess, he cast the teeth
upon the earth into deep furrows, whence sprang to sight mail-clad
host above the surface of the soil; but grim slaughter once again
united them to the earth they loved, bedewing with blood the ground
that had disclosed them to the sunlit breath of heaven.
(epode)
Thee too, Epaphus, child of Zeus, sprung from Io our ancestress,
call on in my foreign tongue; all hail to thee! hear my prayer uttered
in accents strange, and visit this land; 'twas in thy honour thy descendants
settled here, and those goddesses of twofold name, Persephone and
kindly Demeter or Earth the queen of all, that feedeth every mouth,
won it for themselves; send to the help of this land those torch-bearing
queens; for to gods all things are easy.
ETEOCLES (to an attendant) Go, fetch Creon son of Menoeceus, the
brother of jocasta my mother; tell him I fain would confer with him
on matters affecting our public and private weal, before we set out
to battle and the arraying of our host. But lo! he comes and saves
thee the trouble of going; I see him on his way to my palace. (CREON
enters.)

CREON To and fro have I been, king Eteocles, in my desire to see
thee, and have gone all round the gates and sentinels of Thebes in
quest of thee.
ETEOCLES Why, and I was anxious to see thee, Creon; for I found the
terms of peace far from satisfactory, when I came to confer with Polyneices.
CREON I hear that he has wider aims than Thebes, relying on his alliance
with the daughter of Adrastus and his army. Well, we must leave this
dependent on the gods; meantime I am come to tell thee our chief obstacle.

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