Oedipus at Colonus
I was expelled my country, and can ne'er
Thither return again, a parricide.
THESEUS Why fetch thee home if thou must needs obey.
THESEUS What are they threatened by the oracle?
OEDIPUS Destruction that awaits them in this land.
THESEUS What can beget ill blood 'twixt them and me?
OEDIPUS Dear son of Aegeus, to the gods alone
Is given immunity from eld and death;
But nothing else escapes all-ruinous time.
Earth's might decays, the might of men decays,
Honor grows cold, dishonor flourishes,
There is no constancy 'twixt friend and friend,
Or city and city; be it soon or late,
Sweet turns to bitter, hate once more to love.
If now 'tis sunshine betwixt Thebes and thee
And not a cloud, Time in his endless course
Gives birth to endless days and nights, wherein
The merest nothing shall suffice to cut
With serried spears your bonds of amity.
Then shall my slumbering and buried corpse
In its cold grave drink their warm life-blood up,
If Zeus be Zeus and Phoebus still speak true. No more: 'tis ill
to tear aside the veil Of mysteries; let me cease as I began:
Enough if thou wilt keep thy plighted troth,
Then shall thou ne'er complain that Oedipus
Proved an unprofitable and thankless guest,
Except the gods themselves shall play me false.
CHORUS The man, my lord, has from the very first Declared his
power to offer to our land These and like benefits.
THESEUS Who could reject
The proffered amity of such a friend?
First, he can claim the hospitality
To which by mutual contract we stand pledged:
Next, coming here, a suppliant to the gods,
He pays full tribute to the State and me;
His favors therefore never will I spurn,
But grant him the full rights of citizen;
And, if it suits the stranger here to bide,
I place him in your charge, or if he please
Rather to come with me-choose, Oedipus,
Which of the two thou wilt. Thy choice is mine.
OEDIPUS Zeus, may the blessing fall on men like these!
THESEUS What dost thou then decide-to come with me?
OEDIPUS Yea, were it lawful-but 'tis rather here-
THESEUS What wouldst thou here? I shall not thwart thy wish.
OEDIPUS Here shall I vanquish those who cast me forth.
THESEUS Then were thy presence here a boon indeed.
OEDIPUS Such shall it prove, if thou fulfill'st thy pledge.
THESEUS Fear not for me; I shall not play thee false.
OEDIPUS No need to back thy promise with an oath.
THESEUS An oath would be no surer than my word.
OEDIPUS How wilt thou act then?
THESEUS What is it thou fear'st?
OEDIPUS My foes will come-
THESEUS Our friends will look to that.
OEDIPUS But if thou leave me?
THESEUS Teach me not my duty.
OEDIPUS 'Tis fear constrains me.
THESEUS My soul knows no fear!
OEDIPUS Thou knowest not what threats-
THESEUS I know that none
Shall hale thee hence in my despite. Such threats
Vented in anger oft, are blusterers,
An idle breath, forgot when sense returns.