Oedipus the King
OEDIPUS Came there no news, no fellow-traveler
To give some clue that might be followed up?
CREON But one escape, who flying for dear life,
Could tell of all he saw but one thing sure.
OEDIPUS And what was that? One clue might lead us far,
With but a spark of hope to guide our quest.
CREON Robbers, he told us, not one bandit but
A troop of knaves, attacked and murdered him.
OEDIPUS Did any bandit dare so bold a stroke,
Unless indeed he were suborned from Thebes?
CREON So 'twas surmised, but none was found to avenge
His murder mid the trouble that ensued.
OEDIPUS What trouble can have hindered a full quest,
When royalty had fallen thus miserably?
CREON The riddling Sphinx compelled us to let slide
The dim past and attend to instant needs.
OEDIPUS Well, I will start afresh and once again
Make dark things clear. Right worthy the concern
Of Phoebus, worthy thine too, for the dead;
I also, as is meet, will lend my aid
To avenge this wrong to Thebes and to the god.
Not for some far-off kinsman, but myself,
Shall I expel this poison in the blood;
For whoso slew that king might have a mind
To strike me too with his assassin hand.
Therefore in righting him I serve myself.
Up, children, haste ye, quit these altar stairs,
Take hence your suppliant wands, go summon hither
The Theban commons. With the god's good help
Success is sure; 'tis ruin if we fail. (Exeunt OEDIPUS and CREON.)
PRIEST Come, children, let us hence; these gracious words
Forestall the very purpose of our suit.
And may the god who sent this oracle
Save us withal and rid us of this pest. (Exeunt PRIEST and SUPPLIANTS.)
CHORUS (strophe 1)
Sweet-voiced daughter of Zeus from thy gold-paved Pythian shrine
Wafted to Thebes divine,
What dost thou bring me? My soul is racked and shivers with fear.
Healer of Delos, hear!
Hast thou some pain unknown before,
Or with the circling years renewest a penance of yore?
Offspring of golden Hope, thou voice immortal, O tell me.
First on Athene I call; O Zeus-born goddess, defend!
Goddess and sister, befriend,
Artemis, Lady of Thebes, high-throned in the midst of our mart!
Lord of the death-winged dart!
Your threefold aid I crave
From death and ruin our city to save.
If in the days of old when we nigh had perished, ye drave
From our land the fiery plague, be near us now and defend us!
Ah me, what countless woes are mine!
All our host is in decline;
Weaponless my spirit lies.
Earth her gracious fruits denies;
Women wail in barren throes;
Life on life downstriken goes,
Swifter than the wind bird's flight,
Swifter than the Fire-God's might,
To the westering shores of Night.