Oedipus at Colonus
THESEUS Wherefore again this general din? at once
My people call me and the stranger calls.
Is it a thunderbolt of Zeus or sleet
Of arrowy hail? a storm so fierce as this
Would warrant all surmises of mischance.
OEDIPUS Thou com'st much wished for, Prince, and sure some god
Hath bid good luck attend thee on thy way.
THESEUS What, son of Laius, hath chanced of new?
OEDIPUS My life hath turned the scale. I would do all
I promised thee and thine before I die.
THESEUS What sign assures thee that thine end is near?
OEDIPUS The gods themselves are heralds of my fate;
Of their appointed warnings nothing fails.
THESEUS How sayest thou they signify their will?
OEDIPUS This thunder, peal on peal, this lightning hurled
Flash upon flash, from the unconquered hand.
THESEUS I must believe thee, having found thee oft
A prophet true; then speak what must be done.
OEDIPUS O son of Aegeus, for this state will I
Unfold a treasure age cannot corrupt.
Myself anon without a guiding hand
Will take thee to the spot where I must end.
This secret ne'er reveal to mortal man,
Neither the spot nor whereabouts it lies,
So shall it ever serve thee for defense
Better than native shields and near allies.
But those dread mysteries speech may not profane
Thyself shalt gather coming there alone;
Since not to any of thy subjects, nor
To my own children, though I love them dearly,
Can I reveal what thou must guard alone, And whisper to thy chosen heir alone, So to be handed down from heir to heir.
Thus shalt thou hold this land inviolate
From the dread Dragon's brood. The justest State
By countless wanton neighbors may be wronged,
For the gods, though they tarry, mark for doom
The godless sinner in his mad career.
Far from thee, son of Aegeus, be such fate!
But to the spot-the god within me goads-
Let us set forth no longer hesitate.
Follow me, daughters, this way. Strange that I
Whom you have led so long should lead you now.
Oh, touch me not, but let me all alone
Find out the sepulcher that destiny
Appoints me in this land. Hither, this way,
For this way Hermes leads, the spirit guide,
And Persephassa, empress of the dead.
O light, no light to me, but mine erewhile,
Now the last time I feel thee palpable,
For I am drawing near the final gloom
Of Hades. Blessing on thee, dearest friend,
On thee and on thy land and followers!
Live prosperous and in your happy state
Still for your welfare think on me, the dead. (Exit THESEUS followed
by ANTIGONE and ISMENE)
If mortal prayers are heard in hell,
Hear, Goddess dread, invisible!
Monarch of the regions drear,
Aidoneus, hear, O hear!
By a gentle, tearless doom
Speed this stranger to the gloom, (Let him enter without pain) The
all-shrouding Stygian plain.
Wrongfully in life oppressed,
Be he now by Justice blessed.