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The Phoenissae   

ETEOCLES What is that? I do not understand what thou sayest.
CREON There is come one that was captured by the Argives.
ETEOCLES What news does he bring from their camp?
CREON He says the Argive army intend at once to draw a ring of troops
round the city of Thebes, about its towers.
ETEOCLES In that case the city of Cadmus must lead out its troops.
CREON Whither? art thou so young that thine eyes see not what they
ETEOCLES Across yon trenches for immediate action.
CREON Our Theban forces are small, while theirs are numberless.
ETEOCLES I well know they are reputed brave.
CREON No mean repute have those Argives among Hellenes.
ETEOCLES Never fear! I will soon fill the plain with their dead.
CREON I could wish it so; but I see great difficulties in this.
ETEOCLES Trust me, I will not keep my host within the walls.
CREON Still victory is entirely a matter of good counsel.
ETEOCLES Art anxious then that I should have recourse to any other
CREON Aye to every scheme, before running the risk once for all.
ETEOCLES Suppose we fall on them by night from ambuscade?
CREON Good! provided in the event of defeat thou canst secure thy
return hither.
ETEOCLES Night equalizes risks, though it rather favours daring.
CREON The darkness of night is a terrible time to suffer disaster.
ETEOCLES Well, shall I fall upon them as they sit at meat?
CREON That might cause them fright, but victory is what we want.
ETEOCLES Dirce's ford is deep enough to prevent their retreat.
CREON No plan so good as to keep well guarded.
ETEOCLES What if our cavalry make a sortie against the host of Argos?
CREON Their troops too are fenced all round with chariots.
ETEOCLES What then can I do? am I to surrender the city to the foe?
CREON Nay, nay! but of thy wisdom form some plan.
ETEOCLES Pray, what scheme is wiser than mine?
CREON They have seven chiefs, I hear.
ETEOCLES What is their appointed task? their might can be but feeble.
CREON To lead the several companies and storm our seven gates.
ETEOCLES What are we to do? I will not wait till every chance is
CREON Choose seven chiefs thyself to set against them at the gates.
ETEOCLES To lead our companies, or to fight single-handed?
CREON Choose our very bravest men to lead the troops.
ETEOCLES I understand; to repel attempts at scaling our walls.
CREON With others to share the command, for one man sees not everything.
ETEOCLES Selecting them for courage or thoughtful prudence?
CREON For both; for one is naught without the other.
ETEOCLES It shall be done; I will away to our seven towers and post
captains at the gates, as thou advisest, pitting them man for man
against the foe. To tell thee each one's name were grievous waste
of time, when the foe is camped beneath our very walls. But I will
go, that my hands may no longer hang idle. May I meet my brother face
to face, and encounter him hand to hand, e'en to the death, for coming
to waste my country! But if I suffer any mischance, thou must see
to the marriage 'twixt Antigone my sister and Haemon, thy son; and
now, as I go forth to battle, I ratify their previous espousal. Thou
art my mother's brother, so why need I say more? take care of her,
as she deserves, both for thy own sake and mine. As for my sire he
hath been guilty of folly against himself in putting out his eyes;
small praise have I for him; by his curses maybe he will slay us too.
One thing only have we still to do, to ask Teiresias, the seer, if
he has aught to tell of heaven's will. Thy son Menoeceus, who bears
thy father's name, will I send to fetch Teiresias hither, Creon; for
with the he will readily converse, though I have ere now so scorned
his art prophetic to his face, that he has reasons to reproach me.
This commandment, Creon, I lay upon the city and thee; should my cause

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