Oedipus the King
And if it prove so, sentence me to death,
Not by thy voice alone, but mine and thine.
But O condemn me not, without appeal,
On bare suspicion. 'Tis not right to adjudge
Bad men at random good, or good men bad.
I would as lief a man should cast away
The thing he counts most precious, his own life,
As spurn a true friend. Thou wilt learn in time
The truth, for time alone reveals the just;
A villain is detected in a day.
CHORUS To one who walketh warily his words
Commend themselves; swift counsels are not sure.
OEDIPUS When with swift strides the stealthy plotter stalks
I must be quick too with my counterplot.
To wait his onset passively, for him
Is sure success, for me assured defeat.
CREON What then's thy will? To banish me the land?
OEDIPUS I would not have thee banished, no, but dead,
That men may mark the wages envy reaps.
CREON I see thou wilt not yield, nor credit me.
OEDIPUS None but a fool would credit such as thou.
CREON Thou art not wise.
OEDIPUS Wise for myself at least.
CREON Why not for me too?
OEDIPUS Why for such a knave?
CREON Suppose thou lackest sense.
OEDIPUS Yet kings must rule.
CREON Not if they rule ill.
OEDIPUS Oh my Thebans, hear him!
CREON Thy Thebans? am not I a Theban too?
CHORUS Cease, princes; lo there comes, and none too soon,
Jocasta from the palace. Who so fit
As peacemaker to reconcile your feud? (Enter JOCASTA.)
JOCASTA Misguided princes, why have ye upraised
This wordy wrangle? Are ye not ashamed,
While the whole land lies striken, thus to voice
Your private injuries? Go in, my lord;
Go home, my brother, and forebear to make
A public scandal of a petty grief.
CREON My royal sister, Oedipus, thy lord,
Hath bid me choose (O dread alternative!)
An outlaw's exile or a felon's death.
OEDIPUS Yes, lady; I have caught him practicing
Against my royal person his vile arts.
CREON May I ne'er speed but die accursed, if I
In any way am guilty of this charge.
JOCASTA Believe him, I adjure thee, Oedipus,
First for his solemn oath's sake, then for mine,
And for thine elders' sake who wait on thee.
CHORUS (strophe 1)
Hearken, King, reflect, we pray thee, but not stubborn but relent.
OEDIPUS Say to what should I consent?
CHORUS Respect a man whose probity and troth
Are known to all and now confirmed by oath.
OEDIPUS Dost know what grace thou cravest?
CHORUS Yea, I know.
OEDIPUS Declare it then and make thy meaning plain.
CHORUS Brand not a friend whom babbling tongues assail;
Let not suspicion 'gainst his oath prevail.
OEDIPUS Bethink you that in seeking this ye seek
In very sooth my death or banishment?
CHORUS No, by the leader of the host divine!