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Oedipus the King   


OEDIPUS Thou art glib of tongue, but I am slow to learn
Of thee; I know too well thy venomous hate.
CREON First I would argue out this very point.
OEDIPUS O argue not that thou art not a rogue.
CREON If thou dost count a virtue stubbornness,
Unschooled by reason, thou art much astray.
OEDIPUS If thou dost hold a kinsman may be wronged,
And no pains follow, thou art much to seek.
CREON Therein thou judgest rightly, but this wrong
That thou allegest-tell me what it is.
OEDIPUS Didst thou or didst thou not advise that I
Should call the priest?
CREON Yes, and I stand to it.
OEDIPUS Tell me how long is it since Laius...
CREON Since Laius...? I follow not thy drift.
OEDIPUS By violent hands was spirited away.
CREON In the dim past, a many years agone.
OEDIPUS Did the same prophet then pursue his craft?
CREON Yes, skilled as now and in no less repute.
OEDIPUS Did he at that time ever glance at me?
CREON Not to my knowledge, not when I was by.
OEDIPUS But was no search and inquisition made?
CREON Surely full quest was made, but nothing learnt.
OEDIPUS Why failed the seer to tell his story then?
CREON I know not, and not knowing hold my tongue.
OEDIPUS This much thou knowest and canst surely tell.
CREON What's mean'st thou? All I know I will declare.
OEDIPUS But for thy prompting never had the seer
Ascribed to me the death of Laius.
CREON If so he thou knowest best; but I
Would put thee to the question in my turn.
OEDIPUS Question and prove me murderer if thou canst.
CREON Then let me ask thee, didst thou wed my sister?
OEDIPUS A fact so plain I cannot well deny.
CREON And as thy consort queen she shares the throne?
OEDIPUS I grant her freely all her heart desires.
CREON And with you twain I share the triple rule?
OEDIPUS Yea, and it is that proves thee a false friend.
CREON Not so, if thou wouldst reason with thyself,
As I with myself. First, I bid thee think,
Would any mortal choose a troubled reign
Of terrors rather than secure repose,
If the same power were given him? As for me,
I have no natural craving for the name
Of king, preferring to do kingly deeds,
And so thinks every sober-minded man.
Now all my needs are satisfied through thee,
And I have naught to fear; but were I king,
My acts would oft run counter to my will.
How could a title then have charms for me
Above the sweets of boundless influence?
I am not so infatuate as to grasp
The shadow when I hold the substance fast.
Now all men cry me Godspeed! wish me well,
And every suitor seeks to gain my ear,
If he would hope to win a grace from thee.
Why should I leave the better, choose the worse?
That were sheer madness, and I am not mad.
No such ambition ever tempted me,
Nor would I have a share in such intrigue.
And if thou doubt me, first to Delphi go,
There ascertain if my report was true
Of the god's answer; next investigate
If with the seer I plotted or conspired,

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