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Oedipus the King   


OEDIPUS Words scare not him who blenches not at deeds.
CHORUS But here is one to arraign him. Lo, at length
They bring the god-inspired seer in whom
Above all other men is truth inborn. (Enter TEIRESIAS, led by a boy.)
OEDIPUS Teiresias, seer who comprehendest all,
Lore of the wise and hidden mysteries,
High things of heaven and low things of the earth,
Thou knowest, though thy blinded eyes see naught,
What plague infects our city; and we turn
To thee, O seer, our one defense and shield.
The purport of the answer that the God
Returned to us who sought his oracle,
The messengers have doubtless told thee-how
One course alone could rid us of the pest,
To find the murderers of Laius,
And slay them or expel them from the land.
Therefore begrudging neither augury
Nor other divination that is thine,
O save thyself, thy country, and thy king,
Save all from this defilement of blood shed.
On thee we rest. This is man's highest end,
To others' service all his powers to lend.

TEIRESIAS Alas, alas, what misery to be wise
When wisdom profits nothing! This old lore
I had forgotten; else I were not here.
OEDIPUS What ails thee? Why this melancholy mood?
TEIRESIAS Let me go home; prevent me not; 'twere best
That thou shouldst bear thy burden and I mine.
OEDIPUS For shame! no true-born Theban patriot
Would thus withhold the word of prophecy.
TEIRESIAS Thy words, O king, are wide of the mark, and I
For fear lest I too trip like thee...
OEDIPUS Oh speak,
Withhold not, I adjure thee, if thou know'st,
Thy knowledge. We are all thy suppliants.
TEIRESIAS Aye, for ye all are witless, but my voice
Will ne'er reveal my miseries-or thine.
OEDIPUS What then, thou knowest, and yet willst not speak!
Wouldst thou betray us and destroy the State?
TEIRESIAS I will not vex myself nor thee. Why ask
Thus idly what from me thou shalt not learn?
OEDIPUS Monster! thy silence would incense a flint.
Will nothing loose thy tongue? Can nothing melt thee,
Or shake thy dogged taciturnity?
TEIRESIAS Thou blam'st my mood and seest not thine own
Wherewith thou art mated; no, thou taxest me.
OEDIPUS And who could stay his choler when he heard
How insolently thou dost flout the State?
TEIRESIAS Well, it will come what will, though I be mute.
OEDIPUS Since come it must, thy duty is to tell me.
TEIRESIAS I have no more to say; storm as thou willst,
And give the rein to all thy pent-up rage.
OEDIPUS Yea, I am wroth, and will not stint my words,
But speak my whole mind. Thou methinks thou art he,
Who planned the crime, aye, and performed it too,
All save the assassination; and if thou
Hadst not been blind, I had been sworn to boot
That thou alone didst do the bloody deed.
TEIRESIAS Is it so? Then I charge thee to abide
By thine own proclamation; from this day
Speak not to these or me. Thou art the man,
Thou the accursed polluter of this land.
OEDIPUS Vile slanderer, thou blurtest forth these taunts,

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