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Oedipus the King   


By others on the trackless mountain side.
So then Apollo brought it not to pass
The child should be his father's murderer,
Or the dread terror find accomplishment,
And Laius be slain by his own son.
Such was the prophet's horoscope. O king,
Regard it not. Whate'er the god deems fit
To search, himself unaided will reveal.

OEDIPUS What memories, what wild tumult of the soul
Came o'er me, lady, as I heard thee speak!
JOCASTA What mean'st thou? What has shocked and startled thee?
OEDIPUS Methought I heard thee say that Laius
Was murdered at the meeting of three roads.
JOCASTA So ran the story that is current still.
OEDIPUS Where did this happen? Dost thou know the place?
JOCASTA Phocis the land is called; the spot is where
Branch roads from Delphi and from Daulis meet.
OEDIPUS And how long is it since these things befell?
JOCASTA 'Twas but a brief while were thou wast proclaimed
Our country's ruler that the news was brought.
OEDIPUS O Zeus, what hast thou willed to do with me!
JOCASTA What is it, Oedipus, that moves thee so?
OEDIPUS Ask me not yet; tell me the build and height
Of Laius? Was he still in manhood's prime?
JOCASTA Tall was he, and his hair was lightly strewn
With silver; and not unlike thee in form.
OEDIPUS O woe is me! Mehtinks unwittingly
I laid but now a dread curse on myself.
JOCASTA What say'st thou? When I look upon thee, my king,
I tremble.
OEDIPUS 'Tis a dread presentiment
That in the end the seer will prove not blind.
One further question to resolve my doubt.
JOCASTA I quail; but ask, and I will answer all.
OEDIPUS Had he but few attendants or a train
Of armed retainers with him, like a prince?
JOCASTA They were but five in all, and one of them
A herald; Laius in a mule-car rode.
OEDIPUS Alas! 'tis clear as noonday now. But say,
Lady, who carried this report to Thebes?
JOCASTA A serf, the sole survivor who returned.
OEDIPUS Haply he is at hand or in the house?
JOCASTA No, for as soon as he returned and found
Thee reigning in the stead of Laius slain,
He clasped my hand and supplicated me
To send him to the alps and pastures, where
He might be farthest from the sight of Thebes.
And so I sent him. 'Twas an honest slave
And well deserved some better recompense.
OEDIPUS Fetch him at once. I fain would see the man.
JOCASTA He shall be brought; but wherefore summon him?
OEDIPUS Lady, I fear my tongue has overrun
Discretion; therefore I would question him.
JOCASTA Well, he shall come, but may not I too claim
To share the burden of thy heart, my king?
OEDIPUS And thou shalt not be frustrate of thy wish.
Now my imaginings have gone so far.
Who has a higher claim that thou to hear
My tale of dire adventures? Listen then.
My sire was Polybus of Corinth, and
My mother Merope, a Dorian;
And I was held the foremost citizen,
Till a strange thing befell me, strange indeed,

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