things it cannot comprehend; and whatso'er a child hath learnt, this
it is his wont to treasure up till he is old. So train up your children
in a virtuous way.
CHORUS (chanting) Alas! my son, to sorrow I bare thee and carried
thee within my womb, enduring the pangs of travail; but now Hades
takes the fruit of all my hapless toil, and I that had a son am left,
ah me! with none to nurse my age.
THESEUS As for the noble son of Oecleus, him, while yet he lived,
the gods snatched hence to the bowels of the earth, and his chariot
too, manifestly blessing him; while I myself may truthfully tell the
praises of the son of Oedipus, that is, Polyneices, for he was my
guest-friend ere he left the town of Cadmus and crossed to Argos in
voluntary exile. But dost thou know what I would have thee do in this?
ADRASTUS I know naught save this,-to yield obedience to thy hests.
THESEUS As for yon Capaneus, stricken by the bolt of Zeus-
ADRASTUS Wilt bury him apart as a consecrated corpse?
THESEUS Even so; but all the rest on one funeral pyre.
ADRASTUS Where wilt thou set the tomb apart for him?
THESEUS Here near this temple have I builded him a sepulchre.
ADRASTUS Thy thralls forthwith must undertake this toil.
THESEUS Myself will look to those others; let the biers advance.
ADRASTUS Approach your sons, unhappy mothers.
THESEUS This thy proposal, Adrastus, is anything but good.
ADRASTUS Must not the mothers touch their sons?
THESEUS It would kill them to see how they are altered.
ADRASTUS 'Tis bitter, truly, to see the dead even at the moment of
THESEUS Why then wilt thou add fresh grief to them?
ADRASTUS Thou art right. Ye needs must patiently abide, for the words
of Theseus are good. But when we have committed them unto the flames,
ye shall collect their bones. O wretched sons of men! Why do ye get
you weapons and bring slaughter on one another? Cease therefrom, give
o'er your toiling, and in mutual peace keep safe your cities. Short
is the span of life, so 'twere best to run its course as lightly as
we may, from trouble free. (The corpses, followed by the CHILDREN
of the slain chieftains, are carried off to the pyre which is kindled
within the sight of the persons on the stage.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe)
No more a happy mother I, with children blest; no more I share, among
Argive women, who have sons, their happy lot; nor any more will Artemis
in the hour of travail kindly greet these childless mothers. Most
dreary is my life, and like some wandering cloud drift before the
The seven noblest sons in Argos once we had, we seven hapless mothers;
but now my sons are dead, I have no child, and on me steals old age
in piteous wise, nor 'mongst the dead nor 'mongst the living do I
count myself, having as it were a lot apart from these.
Tears alone are left me; in my house sad memories of my son are stored;
mournful tresses shorn from his head, chaplets that he wore, libations
for the dead departed, and songs, but not such as golden-haired Apollo
welcometh; and when I wake to weep, my tears will ever drench the
folds of my robe upon my bosom. Ah! there I see the sepulchre ready
e'en now for Capaneus, his consecrated tomb, and the votive offerings
Theseus gives unto the dead outside the shrine, and nigh yon lightning-smitten
chief I see his noble bride, Evadne, daughter of King Iphis. Wherefore
stands she on the towering rock, which o'ertops this temple, advancing
along yon path? (EVADNE is seen on a rock which overhangs the burning
pyre. She is dressed as though for a festival.)
EVADNE (chanting) What light, what radiancy did the sun-god's car
dart forth, and the moon athwart the firmament, while round her in
the gloom swift stars careered, in the day that the city of Argos
raised the stately chant of joy at my wedding, in honour of my marriage
with mail-clad Capaneus? Now from my home in frantic haste with frenzied