Oedipus the King
Yet see'st not in what misery thou art fallen,
Nor where thou dwellest nor with whom for mate.
Dost know thy lineage? Nay, thou know'st it not,
And all unwitting art a double foe
To thine own kin, the living and the dead;
Aye and the dogging curse of mother and sire
One day shall drive thee, like a two-edged sword,
Beyond our borders, and the eyes that now
See clear shall henceforward endless night.
Ah whither shall thy bitter cry not reach,
What crag in all Cithaeron but shall then
Reverberate thy wail, when thou hast found
With what a hymeneal thou wast borne
Home, but to no fair haven, on the gale!
Aye, and a flood of ills thou guessest not
Shall set thyself and children in one line.
Flout then both Creon and my words, for none
Of mortals shall be striken worse than thou.
OEDIPUS Must I endure this fellow's insolence?
A murrain on thee! Get thee hence! Begone
Avaunt! and never cross my threshold more.
TEIRESIAS I ne'er had come hadst thou not bidden me.
OEDIPUS I know not thou wouldst utter folly, else
Long hadst thou waited to be summoned here.
TEIRESIAS Such am I-as it seems to thee a fool,
But to the parents who begat thee, wise.
OEDIPUS What sayest thou-«parents»? Who begat me, speak?
TEIRESIAS This day shall be thy birth-day, and thy grave.
OEDIPUS Thou lov'st to speak in riddles and dark words.
TEIRESIAS In reading riddles who so skilled as thou?
OEDIPUS Twit me with that wherein my greatness lies.
TEIRESIAS And yet this very greatness proved thy bane.
OEDIPUS No matter if I saved the commonwealth.
TEIRESIAS 'Tis time I left thee. Come, boy, take me home.
OEDIPUS Aye, take him quickly, for his presence irks
And lets me; gone, thou canst not plague me more.
TEIRESIAS I go, but first will tell thee why I came.
Thy frown I dread not, for thou canst not harm me.
Hear then: this man whom thou hast sought to arrest
With threats and warrants this long while, the wretch
Who murdered Laius-that man is here.
He passes for an alien in the land
But soon shall prove a Theban, native born.
And yet his fortune brings him little joy;
For blind of seeing, clad in beggar's weeds,
For purple robes, and leaning on his staff,
To a strange land he soon shall grope his way.
And of the children, inmates of his home,
He shall be proved the brother and the sire,
Of her who bare him son and husband both,
Co-partner, and assassin of his sire.
Go in and ponder this, and if thou find
That I have missed the mark, henceforth declare
I have no wit nor skill in prophecy. (Exeunt TEIRESIAS and OEDIPUS.)
CHORUS (strophe 1)
Who is he by voice immortal named from Pythia's rocky cell,
Doer of foul deeds of bloodshed, horrors that no tongue can tell?
A foot for flight he needs
Fleeter than storm-swift steeds,
For on his heels doth follow,
Armed with the lightnings of his Sire, Apollo.
Like sleuth-hounds too
The Fates pursue.