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Works by Sophocles
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by the eyes of one; for thus, by a guide's help, the blind must walk.
And what, aged Teiresias, are thy tidings?
I will tell thee; and do thou hearken to the seer.
Indeed, it has not been my wont to slight thy counsel.
Therefore didst thou steer our city's course aright.
I have felt, and can attest, thy benefits.
Mark that now, once more, thou standest on fate's fine edge.
What means this? How I shudder at thy message!
Thou wilt learn, when thou hearest the warnings of mine art. As
I took my place on mine old seat of augury, where all birds have
been wont to gather within my ken, I heard a strange voice among them;
they were screaming with dire, feverish rage, that drowned their
language in jargon; and I knew that they were rending each other
with their talons, murderously; the whirr of wings told no doubtful
Forthwith, in fear, I essayed burnt-sacrifice on a duly kindled
altar: but from my offerings the Fire-god showed no flame; a dank
moisture, oozing from the thigh-flesh, trickled forth upon the embers,
and smoked, and sputtered; the gall was scattered to the air; and
the streaming thighs lay bared of the fat that had been wrapped
round them.
Such was the failure of the rites by which I vainly asked a
sign, as from this boy I learned; for he is my guide, as I am guide to
others. And 'tis thy counsel that hath brought this sickness on our
State. For the altars of our city and of our hearths have been
tainted, one and all, by birds and dogs, with carrion from the hapless
corpse, the son of Oedipus: and therefore the gods no more accept
prayer and sacrifice at our hands, or the flame of meat-offering;
nor doth any bird give a clear sign by its shrill cry, for they have
tasted the fatness of a slain man's blood.
Think, then, on these things, my son. All men are liable to err;
but when an error hath been made, that man is no longer witless or
unblest who heals the ill into which he hath fallen, and remains not
Self-will, we know, incurs the charge of folly. Nay, allow the
claim of the dead; stab not the fallen; what prowess is it to slay the
slain anew? I have sought thy good, and for thy good I speak: and
never is it sweeter to learn from a good counsellor than when he
counsels for thine own gain.
Old man, ye all shoot your shafts at me, as archers at the
butts;-Ye must needs practise on me with seer-craft also;-aye, the
seer-tribe hath long trafficked in me, and made me their
merchandise. Gain your gains, drive your trade, if ye list, in the
silver-gold of Sardis and the gold of India; but ye shall not hide
that man in the grave,-no, though the eagles of Zeus should bear the
carrion morsels to their Master's throne-no, not for dread of that
defilement will I suffer his burial:-for well I know that no mortal
can defile the gods.-But, aged Teiresias, the wisest fall with
shameful fall, when they clothe shameful thoughts in fair words, for
lucre's sake.
Alas! Doth any man know, doth any consider...
Whereof? What general truth dost thou announce?

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