Oedipus at Colonus
My wrath had all outrun those errors past,
Then, then it was the city went about
By force to oust me, respited for years;
And then my sons, who should as sons have helped,
Did nothing: and, one little word from them
Was all I needed, and they spoke no word,
But let me wander on for evermore,
A banished man, a beggar. These two maids
Their sisters, girls, gave all their sex could give,
Food and safe harborage and filial care;
While their two brethren sacrificed their sire
For lust of power and sceptred sovereignty.
No! me they ne'er shall win for an ally,
Nor will this Theban kingship bring them gain;
That know I from this maiden's oracles,
And those old prophecies concerning me,
Which Phoebus now at length has brought to pass.
Come Creon then, come all the mightiest
In Thebes to seek me; for if ye my friends,
Championed by those dread Powers indigenous,
Espouse my cause; then for the State ye gain
A great deliverer, for my foemen bane.
CHORUS Our pity, Oedipus, thou needs must move,
Thou and these maidens; and the stronger plea Thou urgest, as
the savior of our land, Disposes me to counsel for thy weal.
OEDIPUS Aid me, kind sirs; I will do all you bid.
CHORUS First make atonement to the deities,
Whose grove by trespass thou didst first profane.
OEDIPUS After what manner, stranger? Teach me, pray.
CHORUS Make a libation first of water fetched
With undefiled hands from living spring.
OEDIPUS And after I have gotten this pure draught?
CHORUS Bowls thou wilt find, the carver's handiwork;
Crown thou the rims and both the handles crown-
OEDIPUS With olive shoots or blocks of wool, or how?
CHORUS With wool from fleece of yearling freshly shorn.
OEDIPUS What next? how must I end the ritual?
CHORUS Pour thy libation, turning to the dawn.
OEDIPUS Pouring it from the urns whereof ye spake?
CHORUS Yea, in three streams; and be the last bowl drained
To the last drop.
OEDIPUS And wherewith shall I fill it,
Ere in its place I set it? This too tell.
CHORUS With water and with honey; add no wine.
OEDIPUS And when the embowered earth hath drunk thereof?
CHORUS Then lay upon it thrice nine olive sprays
With both thy hands, and offer up this prayer.
OEDIPUS I fain would hear it; that imports the most.
CHORUS That, as we call them Gracious, they would deign
To grant the suppliant their saving grace.
So pray thyself or whoso pray for thee,
In whispered accents, not with lifted voice;
Then go and look back. Do as I bid,
And I shall then be bold to stand thy friend;
Else, stranger, I should have my fears for thee.
OEDIPUS Hear ye, my daughters, what these strangers say?
ANTIGONE We listened, and attend thy bidding, father.
OEDIPUS I cannot go, disabled as I am
Doubly, by lack of strength and lack of sight;
But one of you may do it in my stead;
For one, I trow, may pay the sacrifice
Of thousands, if his heart be leal and true.
So to your work with speed, but leave me not
Untended; for this frame is all too week