Oedipus at Colonus
(In front of the grove of the Eumenides.)
(Enter the blind OEDIPUS led by his daughter, ANTIGONE.)
OEDIPUS Child of an old blind sire, Antigone,
What region, say, whose city have we reached?
Who will provide today with scanted dole
This wanderer? 'Tis little that he craves,
And less obtains-that less enough for me;
For I am taught by suffering to endure,
And the long years that have grown old with me,
And last not least, by true nobility.
My daughter, if thou seest a resting place
On common ground or by some sacred grove,
Stay me and set me down. Let us discover
Where we have come, for strangers must inquire
Of denizens, and do as they are bid.
ANTIGONE Long-suffering father, Oedipus, the towers
That fence the city still are faint and far;
But where we stand is surely holy ground;
A wilderness of laurel, olive, vine;
Within a choir or songster nightingales
Are warbling. On this native seat of rock
Rest; for an old man thou hast traveled far.
OEDIPUS Guide these dark steps and seat me there secure.
ANTIGONE If time can teach, I need not to be told.
OEDIPUS Say, prithee, if thou knowest, where we are.
ANTIGONE Athens I recognize, but not the spot.
OEDIPUS That much we heard from every wayfarer.
ANTIGONE Shall I go on and ask about the place?
OEDIPUS Yes, daughter, if it be inhabited.
ANTIGONE Sure there are habitations; but no need
To leave thee; yonder is a man hard by.
OEDIPUS What, moving hitherward and on his way?
ANTIGONE Say rather, here already. Ask him straight
The needful questions, for the man is here. (Enter STRANGER)
OEDIPUS O stranger, as I learn from her whose eyes
Must serve both her and me, that thou art here
Sent by some happy chance to serve our doubts-
STRANGER First quit that seat, then question me at large:
The spot thou treadest on is holy ground.
OEDIPUS What is the site, to what god dedicate?
STRANGER Inviolable, untrod; goddesses,
Dread brood of Earth and Darkness, here abide.
OEDIPUS Tell me the awful name I should invoke?
STRANGER The Gracious Ones, All-seeing, so our folk
Call them, but elsewhere other names are rife.
OEDIPUS Then may they show their suppliant grace, for I
From this your sanctuary will ne'er depart.
STRANGER What word is this?
OEDIPUS The watchword of my fate.
STRANGER Nay, 'tis not mine to bid thee hence without
Due warrant and instruction from the State.
OEDIPUS Now in God's name, O stranger, scorn me not
As a wayfarer; tell me what I crave.
STRANGER Ask; your request shall not be scorned by me.
OEDIPUS How call you then the place wherein we bide?
STRANGER Whate'er I know thou too shalt know; the place
Is all to great Poseidon consecrate.
Hard by, the Titan, he who bears the torch,
Prometheus, has his worship; but the spot
Thou treadest, the Brass-footed Threshold named,
Is Athens' bastion, and the neighboring lands
Claim as their chief and patron yonder knight