Oedipus at Colonus
Degenerate sons-these maidens did not so.
Therefore my curse is stronger than thy «throne,»
Thy «suppliance,» if by right of laws eterne
Primeval Justice sits enthroned with Zeus.
Begone, abhorred, disowned, no son of mine,
Thou vilest of the vile! and take with thee
This curse I leave thee as my last bequest:--
Never to win by arms thy native land,
No, nor return to Argos in the Vale,
But by a kinsman's hand to die and slay
Him who expelled thee. So I pray and call
On the ancestral gloom of Tartarus
To snatch thee hence, on these dread goddesses
I call, and Ares who incensed you both
To mortal enmity. Go now proclaim
What thou hast heard to the Cadmeians all,
Thy staunch confederates-this the heritage that Oedipus divideth
to his sons.
CHORUS Thy errand, Polyneices, liked me not
From the beginning; now go back with speed.
POLYNEICES Woe worth my journey and my baffled hopes!
Woe worth my comrades! What a desperate end
To that glad march from Argos! Woe is me!
I dare not whisper it to my allies
Or turn them back, but mute must meet my doom.
My sisters, ye his daughters, ye have heard
The prayers of our stern father, if his curse
Should come to pass and ye some day return
To Thebes, O then disown me not, I pray,
But grant me burial and due funeral rites.
So shall the praise your filial care now wins
Be doubled for the service wrought for me.
ANTIGONE One boon, O Polyneices, let me crave.
POLYNEICES What would'st thou, sweet Antigone? Say on.
ANTIGONE Turn back thy host to Argos with all speed,
And ruin not thyself and Thebes as well.
POLYNEICES That cannot be. How could I lead again
An army that had seen their leader quail?
ANTIGONE But, brother, why shouldst thou be wroth again?
What profit from thy country's ruin comes?
POLYNEICES 'Tis shame to live in exile, and shall I
The elder bear a younger brother's flouts?
ANTIGONE Wilt thou then bring to pass his prophecies
Who threatens mutual slaughter to you both?
POLYNEICES Aye, so he wishes:--but I must not yield.
ANTIGONE O woe is me! but say, will any dare,
Hearing his prophecy, to follow thee?
POLYNEICES I shall not tell it; a good general
Reports successes and conceals mishaps.
ANTIGONE Misguided youth, thy purpose then stands fast!
POLYNEICES 'Tis so, and stay me not. The road I choose,
Dogged by my sire and his avenging spirit,
Leads me to ruin; but for you may Zeus
Make your path bright if ye fulfill my hest
When dead; in life ye cannot serve me more.
Now let me go, farewell, a long farewell!
Ye ne'er shall see my living face again.
ANTIGONE Ah me!
POLYNEICES Bewail me not.
ANTIGONE Who would not mourn
Thee, brother, hurrying to an open pit!
POLYNEICES If I must die, I must.