索福克勒斯《俄狄甫斯王》剧本(中文+英文) (2023)

俄狄浦斯王   
罗念生 译  
  
  人 物(以上场先后为序)
  祭司——宙斯的祭司。
  一群乞援人——忒拜人。
  俄狄浦斯——拉伊奥斯的儿子,伊奥卡斯特的儿子与丈夫, 忒拜城的王,科任托斯城国王波吕波斯的养子。
  侍从数人——俄狄捕斯的侍从。
  克瑞昂——伊奥卡斯特的兄弟。
  歌队——由忒拜长老十五人组成。
  特瑞西阿斯——忒拜城的先知。
  童子——特瑞西阿斯的领路人。
  伊奥卡斯特——俄狄浦斯的母亲与妻子。
  侍女——伊奥卡斯特的侍女。
  报信人——波吕波斯的牧人。
  牧人——拉伊奥斯的牧人。
  仆人数人——俄狄浦斯的仆人。
  传报人——忒拜人。
  
  布景
  
  忒拜王宫前院。
  
  时 代
  
  英雄时代。
  
  
 
 一 开场
  [祭司携一群乞援人自观众右方上, 俄狄浦斯偕众侍从自宫中上。
  俄:孩儿们,老卡德摩斯的现代儿孙,城里正弥漫着香烟,到处是求生的歌声和苦痛的呻吟,你们为什么坐在我面前,捧着这些缠羊毛的树枝?孩儿们,我不该听旁人传报,我,人人知道的俄狄浦斯,亲自出来了。
    (向祭司)老人家,你说吧,你年高德劭,正应当替他们说话。你们有什么心事,为什么坐在这里?你们有什么忧虑,有什么心愿?我愿意尽力帮助你们,我要是不怜悯你们这样的乞援人,未免太狠心了。
  
  祭:啊,俄狄浦斯,我邦的君主,请看这些坐在你祭坛前的人都是怎样的年纪:有的还不会高飞;有的是祭司,像身为宙斯祭司的我,已经老态龙钟;还有的是青壮年。其余的人也捧着缠羊毛的树枝坐在市场里,帕拉斯的神庙前,伊斯墨诺斯庙上的神托所的火灰旁边。因为这城邦,像你亲眼看见的,正在血红的波浪里颠簸着,抬不起头来;田间的麦穗枯萎了,牧场上的牛瘟死了,妇人流产了;最可恨的带火的瘟神降临到这城邦,使卡德摩斯的家园变为一片荒凉,幽暗的冥土里倒充满了悲叹和哭声。
    我和这些孩子并不是把你看作天神,才坐在这祭坛前求你,我们是把你当作天灾和人生祸患的救星;你曾经来到卡德摩斯的城邦,豁免了我们献给那残忍的歌女的捐税;这件事你事先并没有听我们解释过,也没有向人请教过;人人都说,并且相信,你靠天神的帮助救了我们。
    现在,俄狄浦斯,全能的主上,我们全体乞援人求你,或是靠天神的指点,或是靠凡人的力量,为我们找出一条生路。在我看来,凡是富有经验的人,他们的主见一定是很有用处的。
    啊,最高贵的人,快拯救我们的城邦!保住你的名声!为了你先前的一片好心,这地方把你叫做救星;将来我们想起你的统治,别让我们留下这样的记忆:你先前把我们救了,后来又让我们跌倒。快拯救这城邦,使它稳定下来。
    你曾经凭你的好运为我们造福,如今也照样做吧。假如你还想像现在这样治理这国土,那么治理人民总比治理荒郊好;一个城堡或是一只船,要是空着没有人和你同住,就毫无用处。
  
  俄:可怜的孩儿们,我不是不知道你们的来意;我了解你们大家的疾苦:可是你们虽然痛苦,我的痛苦却远远超过你们大家。你们每人只为自己悲哀,不为旁人;我的悲痛却同时是为城邦,为自己,也为你们。
    我睡不着,并不是被你们吵醒,须知我是流过多少眼泪,想了又想。我细细思量,终于想到了一个唯一的挽救办法,这办法我已经实行。我已经派克瑞翁,墨诺叩斯的儿子,我的内兄,到福玻斯的皮托庙上去求问:要用怎样的言行才能拯救这城邦。我计算日程,很是焦心,因为他耽搁得太久,早超过适当的日期了,也不知他在做什么。等他回来,我若不是完全按照天神的启示行事,我就算失德。
  
  祭:你说的真巧,他们的手势告诉我,克瑞翁回来了。
  
  俄:阿波罗王啊,但愿他的神采表示有了得救的好消息。
  
  祭:我猜想他一定有了好消息;要不然,他不会戴着一顶上面满是果实的桂冠。
  
  俄:我们立刻可以知道;他听得见我们说话了。
    (克瑞翁自观众左方上。)
    亲王,墨诺叩斯的儿子,我的亲戚,你从神那里给我们带回了什么消息?
  
  克:好消息!告诉你吧:一切难堪的事,只要向着正确的方向进行,都会成为好事。
  
  俄:神示怎么样?你的话既没有叫我放心,也没有使我惊慌。
  
  克:你愿意趁他们在旁边的时候听,我现在就说;不然就到宫里去。
  
  俄:说给大家听吧!我是为大家担忧,不单为我自己。
  
  克:那么我就把我听到的神示讲出来:福玻斯王分明是叫我们把藏在这里的污染清除出去,别让它留下来,害得我们无从得救。
  
  俄:怎样清除?那是什么污染?
  克:你得下驱逐令,或者杀一个人抵偿先前的流血;就是那次的流血,使城邦遭了这番风险。
  
  俄:阿波罗指的是谁的事?
  
  克:主上啊,在你治理这城邦以前,拉伊俄斯原是这里的王。
  
  俄:我全知道,听人说起过;我没有亲眼见过他。
  
  克:他被人杀害了,神分明是叫我们严惩那伙凶手,不论他们是谁。
  
  俄:可是他们在哪里?这旧罪的难寻的线索哪里去寻找?
  
  克:神说就在这地方;去寻找就擒得住,不留心就会跑掉。
  
  俄:拉伊俄斯是死在宫中,乡下,还是外邦?
  
  克:他说出国去求神示,去了就没有回家。
  
  俄:有没有报信人?有没有同伴见过这件事?如果有,我们可以问问他,利用他的话。
  
  克:都死了,只有一个吓坏的人逃回来,也只能肯定亲眼看见的一件事。
  
  俄:什么事呢?只要有一线希望,我们总可以从一件事里找出许多线索来。
  
  克:他说他们是碰上强盗被杀害的,那是一伙强盗,不是一个人。
  
  俄:要不是有人从这里出钱收买,强盗哪有这样大胆?
  
  克:我也这样猜想过;但自从拉伊俄斯遇害之后,还没有人从灾难中起来报仇。
  
  俄:国王遇害之后,什么灾难阻止你们追究?
  
  克:那说谜语的妖怪使我们放下了那没头的案子,先考虑眼前的事。
  
  俄:我要重新把这案子弄明白。福玻斯和你都尽了本分,关心过死者;你会看见,我也要正当的和你们一起来为城邦,为天神报复这冤仇。这不仅是为一个并不疏远的朋友,也是为我自己清除污染;因为,不论杀他的凶手是谁,也会用同样的毒手来对付我的。所以我帮助朋友,对自己也有利。
    孩儿们,快从台阶上起来,把这些求援的树枝拿走;叫人把卡德摩斯的人民召集到这里来,我要彻底追究;凭了天神帮助,我们一定成功——但也许会失败。
  
  [俄狄浦斯偕众侍从进宫,克瑞翁自观众右方下。
  
  祭:孩儿们,起来吧!我们是为这件事来的,国王已经答应了我们的请求。福玻斯发出神示,愿他来做我们的救星,为我们消除这场瘟疫。
  
  [众乞援人举起树枝随着祭司自观众右方下。
  
  二 进场歌 [歌队自观众右方进场。
  
  歌队:(第一曲首节)宙斯的和祥的神示啊,你从那黄金的皮托,带着什么消息来到这光荣的忒拜城?我担忧,我心惊胆战,啊,得罗斯的医神啊,我敬畏你,你要我怎样赎罪?用新的方法,还是依照随着时光的流转而采用的古老仪式?请指示我,你神圣的声音,金色希望的女儿!
    (第一曲次节)我首先召唤你,宙斯的女儿,神圣的雅典娜,再召唤你的姐妹阿耳忒弥斯,她是这地方的守护神,坐在那圆形市场里光荣的宝座上,我还要召唤你,远射的福玻斯:你们三位救命的神,请快显现;你们先前解除了这城邦所面临的灾难,把瘟疫的火吹出境外,如今也请快来呀!
    (第二曲首节)唉呀,我忍受的痛苦数不清;全邦的人都病了,找不出一件武器来保护我们。这闻名的土地不结果实,妇人不受生产的疼痛;只见一条条生命,像飞鸟,像烈火,奔向西方之神的岸边。
    (第二曲次节)这无数的死亡毁了我们的城邦,青年男子倒在地上散布瘟疫,没有人哀悼,没有人怜悯,死者的老母和妻子在各处祭坛的台阶上呻吟,祈求天神消除这悲惨的灾难。求生的哀歌是这般响亮,还夹杂着悲惨的哭声;为了解除这灾难,宙斯的金色儿女啊,请给我们美好的帮助。
    (第三曲首节)凶恶的阿瑞斯没有携带黄铜的盾牌,就怒吼着向我放火烧来;但愿他退出国外,让和风把他吹到安菲特里忒的海上,或是不欢迎客人的特剌刻港口去;黑夜破坏不足,白天便来继续完成。我们的父亲宙斯啊,雷电的掌管者啊,请用霹雳把他打死。
  
  [俄狄浦斯偕众侍从自宫中上。
  
  (第三曲次节)吕刻俄斯王啊,愿你那无敌的箭从金弦上射出去杀敌,帮助我们!愿阿耳忒弥斯点燃她的火炬,火光照耀在吕喀亚山上。我还要召唤那头束金带的神,和这城邦同名的神,他叫酒色的欧伊俄斯•巴克科斯,是狂女的伴侣,愿他也点着光亮的枞脂火炬来作我们的盟友,抵抗天神所藐视的战神。
  
三 第一场
俄:你是这样祈祷;只要你肯听我的话,对症下药,就能得救,脱离灾难。我对这个消息和这场灾难是不明白的,我只能这样说:如果没有一点线索,我一个人就追不了很远。我成为忒拜公民是在这件案子发生以后。让我向全体公民这样宣布:你们里头如果有谁知道拉布达科斯的儿子拉伊俄斯是被谁杀死的,我要他详细报上来;即使他怕告发了凶手反被凶手告发,也应当报上来;他不但不会受到严重的惩罚,而且可以安然离开祖国。如果有人知道凶手是外邦人,也不用隐瞒,我会重赏他,感激他。
    但是,你们如果隐瞒——如果有人为了朋友或为了自己有所畏惧而违背我的命令,且听我要怎样处置:在我做国王,掌握大权的领土以内,我不许任何人接待那罪人——不论他是谁——,不许同他交谈,也不许同他一块儿祈祷,祭神,或是为他举行净罪礼;人人都得把他赶出门外,认清他是我们的污染,正像皮托的神示最近告诉我们的。我要这样来做天神和死者的助手。
    我诅咒那没有被发现的凶手,不论他是单独行动,还是另有同谋,他这坏人定将过着悲惨不幸的生活。我发誓,假如他是我家里的人,我愿忍受我刚才加在别人身上的诅咒。
    我为自己,为天神,为这块天神所厌弃的荒芜土地,把这些命令交给你们去执行。
    即使天神没有催促你们办这件事,你们的国王,最高贵的人被杀害了,你们也不该把这污染就此放下,不去清除;你们应当追究。我如今掌握着他先前的王权;娶了他的妻子,占有了他的床榻共同播种,如果他求嗣的心没有遭受挫折,那么同母的子女就能把我们连结为一家人;但是厄运落到了他头上;我为他作战,就像为自己的父亲作战一样,为了替阿革诺耳的玄孙,老卡德摩斯的曾孙,波吕多罗斯的孙子,拉布达科斯的儿子报仇,我要竭力捉拿那杀害他的凶手。
    对那些不服从的人,我求天神不叫他们的土地结果实,不叫他们的女人生孩子;让他们在现在的厄运中毁灭,或者遭受更可恨的命运。
    至于你们这些忒拜人——你们拥护我的命令——愿我们的盟友正义之神和一切别的神对你们永远慈祥,和你们同在。
  
  歌队长:主上啊,你既然这样诅咒,我就说了吧:我没有杀害国王,也指不出谁是凶手。这问题是福玻斯提出的,它应当告诉我们,事情到底是谁做的。
  
  俄:你说得对;可是天神不愿做的事,没有人能强迫他们。
  
  歌队长:我愿提出第二个好办法。
  
  俄:假如还有第三个办法,也请讲出来。
  
  歌队长:我知道,忒瑞西阿斯王和福玻斯王一样,有先见之明,主上啊,问事的人可以从他那里把事情打听明白。
  
  俄:这件事我并不是没有想到。克瑞翁提议以后,我已两次派人去请他;我一直在纳闷,怎么还没看见他来。
  
  歌队长:我们听见的已经是旧话,失去了意义。
  
  俄:那是什么话?我要打听每一个消息。
  
  歌队长:听说国王是被几个旅客杀死的。
  
  俄:我也听说;可是没人见到过证人。
  
  歌队长:那凶手如果胆小害怕,听见你这样诅咒,就不敢在这里停留。
  
  俄:他既然敢做敢为,也就不怕言语恐吓。
  
  歌队长:可是有一个人终会把他指出来。他们已经把神圣的先知请来了,人们当中只有他才知道真情。
  
  [童子带领忒瑞西阿斯自观众右方上。
  
  俄:啊,忒瑞西阿斯,天地间一切可以言说和不可言说的秘密,你都明察,你虽然看不见,也能觉察出我们的城邦遭了瘟疫;主上啊,我们发现你是我们唯一的救星和保护人。你不会没有听见报信人说过,福玻斯已经回答了我们的询问,说这场瘟疫唯一的挽救办法,全在我们能不能找出杀害拉伊俄斯的凶手,把他们处死,或者放逐幽境。如今就请利用鸟声或你所掌握的别的预言术,拯救自己,拯救城邦,拯救我,清除死者留下的一切污染吧!我们全靠你了。一个人最大的事业就是尽他所能,尽他所有帮助别人。
  
  忒:哎呀,聪明没有用处的时候,做一个聪明人真是可怕呀!这道理我明白,可是忘记了;要不然,我就不会来。
  
  俄:怎么?你一来就这么懊丧。
  
  忒:让我回家吧;你答应我,你容易对付过去,我也容易对付过去。
  
  俄:你有话不说;你的语气不对头,对养育你的城邦不友好。
  
  忒:因为我看你的话说得不合时宜;所以我才不说,免得分担你的祸事。
  
  俄:你要是知道这秘密,看在天神面上,不要走,我们全都跪下来求你。
  
  忒:你们都不知道。我不暴露我的痛苦——也是免得暴露你的。
  
  俄:你说什么?你明明知道这秘密,却不告诉我们,岂不是有意出卖我们,破坏城邦吗?
  
  忒:我不愿使自己苦恼,也不愿使你苦恼。为什么还要白费唇舌追问呢?你不会从我嘴里知道秘密的。
  
  俄:坏透了的东西,你的脾气跟石头一样!你不告诉我们吗?你是这样心硬,这样顽强吗?
  
  忒:你怪我脾气坏,却不明白你“自己的”同你住在一起,只知道挑我的毛病。
  
  俄:谁听了你这些不尊重城邦的话,能不生气?
  
  忒:我虽然保守秘密,事情也总会水落石出。
  
  俄:既然总会水落石出,你就该告诉我。
  
  忒:我决不往下说了;你想大发脾气就发吧。
  
  俄:是呀,我是很生气,我要把我的意见都讲出来:我认为你是这罪行的策划者,人是你杀的,虽然不是你亲手杀的。如果你的眼睛没有瞎,我敢说准是你一个人干的。
  
  忒:真的吗?我叫你遵守自己宣布的命令,从此不许再跟这些长老说话,也不许跟我说话,因为你就是这地方不洁的罪人。
  
  俄:你厚颜无耻,出口伤人。你逃得了惩罚吗?
  
  忒:我逃得了;知道真情就有力量。
  
  俄:谁教给你的?不会是靠法术知道的吧。
  
  忒:是你;你逼我说出了我不愿意说的话。
  
  俄:什么话?你再说一遍,我就更明白了。
  
  忒:是你没听明白,还是故意逼我往下说?
  
  俄:我不能说已经明白了;你再说一遍吧。
  
  忒:我说你就是你要寻找的杀人凶手。
  
  俄:你两次诽谤人,是要受惩罚的。
  
  忒:还要我说下去,使你生气吗?
  
  俄:你要说就说;反正都是白费唇舌。
  
  忒:我说你是在不知不觉之中和你最亲近的人可耻的住在一起,却看不见自己的灾难。
  
  俄:你以为你能这样说下去,不受惩罚吗?
  
  忒:是的,只要知道真情就有力量。
  
  俄:别人有力量,你却没有;你又瞎又聋又懵懂。
  
  忒:你这会骂人的可怜虫,回头大家就会这样回敬你。
  
  俄:漫长的黑夜笼罩着你的一生,你伤害不了我,伤害不了任何看得见阳光的人。
  
  忒:命中注定,你不会在我手中身败名裂;阿波罗有力量,他会完成这件事。
  
  俄:这是克瑞翁的诡计,还是你的?
  
  忒:克瑞翁没有害你,是你自己害自己。
  
  俄:(自语)啊,财富,王权,人事的竞争中超越一切技能的技能,你们多么受人嫉妒:为了羡慕这城邦自己送给我的权利,我信赖的老朋友克瑞翁,偷偷爬过来,要把我推倒,他收买了这个诡计多端的术士,为非作歹的化子,他只认得金钱,在法术上却是个瞎子。
    (向忒瑞西阿斯)喂,告诉我,你几时证明过你是个先知?那诵诗的狗在这里的时候,你为什么不说话,不拯救人民?它的谜语并不是任何过路人破得了的,正需要先知的法术,可是你并没有借鸟的帮助,神的启示显出这种才干来。直到我无知无识的俄狄浦斯来了,不懂得鸟语,只凭智慧就破了那谜语,征服了它。你要推倒我,站在克瑞翁的王位旁边。你想和那主谋的人一块儿清除这污染,我看见你是一定会后悔的。要不是看你上了年纪,早叫你遭受苦刑,叫你知道你是多么狂妄无礼!
  
  歌队长:看来,俄狄浦斯啊,他和你都是说气话。这样的话没有必要;我们应该考虑怎样好好执行阿波罗的指示。
  
  忒:你是国王,可是我们双方的发言权无论如何应该平等;因为我也享有这样的权利。我是罗克西阿斯的仆人,不是你的;用不着在克瑞翁的保护下挂名。你骂我瞎子,可是我告诉你,你虽然有眼也看不见你的灾难,看不见你住在哪里,和什么人同居。你知道你是从什么根里长出来的吗?你不知道,你是你已死的和活着的亲属的仇人;你父母的诅咒会左右的鞭打着你,可怕的向你追来,把你赶出这地方;你现在虽然看得见,可是到了那时候,你眼前只是一片黑暗。等你发觉了你的婚姻——在平安的航行之后,你在家里驶进了险恶的港口——那时候,哪一个收容所没有你的哭声?喀泰戎山上哪一处没有你的回音?你猜想不到那无穷无尽的灾难,它会使你和你自己的身分平等,使你和自己的儿女成为平辈。
    尽管骂克瑞翁,骂我瞎说吧,反正世间再没比你受苦的人了。
  
  俄:听了他的话,谁能忍受?(向忒瑞西阿斯)该死的东西,还不快退下去,离开我的家?
  
  忒:要不是你召我来,我根本不会来。
  
  俄:我不知道你会说这些蠢话;要不然,我决不会请你到我家里来。
  
  忒:在你看来,我很愚蠢;可是在你父母看来,我却很聪明。
  
  俄:什么父母?等一等!谁是我父亲?
  
  忒:今天就会暴露你的身分,也叫你身败名裂。
  
  俄:你老是说些谜语,意思含含糊糊。
  
  忒:你不是最善于破迷吗?
  
  俄:尽管拿这件事骂我吧,你总会从这里头发现我的伟大。
  
  忒:正是那运气害了你。
  
  俄:只要能拯救城邦,那也没什么关系。
  
  忒:我该走了;孩子,领我走吧。
  
  俄:好,让他领你走;你在这里又碍事又讨厌!你走了也免得叫我烦恼。
  
  忒:可是我要说完我的话才走,你不能伤害我。我告诉你吧,你刚才大声威胁,通令要捉拿的,杀害拉伊俄斯的凶手就在这里;表面看来,他是个侨民,一转眼就会发现他是个土生的忒拜人,再也不能享受他的好运了。他将从明眼人变成瞎子,从富翁变成乞丐,到外邦去,用手杖探着路前进。他将成为和他同住的儿女的父兄,他生母的儿子和丈夫,他父亲的凶手和共同播种的人。
    我这话你进去想一想;要是发现我说假话,再说我没有预言的本领也不迟。
  
  (童子领先知自观众右方下,俄狄浦斯偕众侍从进宫。)
  
  四 第一合唱歌歌队: (第一曲首节)那颁发神示的得尔福石穴所说的,用血腥的手做出那最凶恶的事的人是谁呀?现在已经是他迈着比风也似的骏马还要快的脚步逃跑的时候了;因为宙斯的儿子已带着电火向他扑去,追得上一切人的可怕的复仇神也在追赶着他。
    (第一曲次节)那神示刚从帕耳那索斯雪山上响亮的发出来,叫我们四处寻找那没有被发现的罪人。他像公牛一样凶猛,在荒林中,石穴里流浪,凄凄惨惨的独自前进,想避开大地中央发出的神示,那神示永远灵验,永远在他头上盘旋。
    (第二曲首节)那聪明的先知非常的,非常的使我烦恼,我不能同意,也不能承认;不知说什么好!我心里忧虑,对现在和未来的事都看不清。直到如今,我从没有听说拉布达科斯家族和波吕玻斯的儿子之间有过什么争吵,可以用来作证据攻击俄狄浦斯的好名声,并且利用这没头的案子为拉布达科斯家族报复冤仇。
    (第二曲次节)宙斯和阿波罗才是聪明,能够知道世间万事;凡人的才智虽然各有高下,可是要说人间的先知比我精明,却没有确凿的证据。在我没有证实他的话是真的以前,我决不能同意谴责俄狄浦斯。从前那著名的,有翅膀的女妖逼近他的时候,我们看见过他的聪明,他经得起考验,他是城邦的朋友;我相信,他决不会有罪。
  
  五 第二场 [克瑞翁自观众右方上。
  
  克:公民们,听说俄狄浦斯王说了许多可怕的话,指控我,我忍无可忍,才到这里来了。如果他认为目前的事是我用什么言行伤害了他,我背上这臭名,真不想再活下去了。如果大家都说我是城邦里的坏人,连你和我的朋友们也这样说,那就不单是在一方面中伤我,而是在许多方面。
  
  歌队长:他的指责也许是一时的气话,不是有意说的。
  
  克:他是不是说我劝先知捏造是非?
  
  歌队长:他说过,但不知是什么用意。
  
  克:他控告我的时候,头脑、眼睛清醒吗?
  
  歌队长:我不知道;我不明白我们的国王在作什么。他从宫里出来了。
  
  [俄狄浦斯偕众侍从自宫中上。
  
  俄:你这人,你来干什么?你的脸皮这样厚?你分明是想谋害我,夺取我的王位,还有脸到我家来吗?喂,当着众神,你说吧;你是不是把我看成了懦夫和傻子,才打算这样干?你狡猾地向我爬过来,你以为我不会发觉你的诡计,发觉了也不能提防吗?你的企图岂不是太愚蠢吗?既没有党羽,又没有朋友,还想夺取王位?那要有党羽和金钱才行呀!
  
  克:你知道怎么办么?请听我公正的答复你,听明白了再下判断。
  
  俄:你说话很狡猾,我这笨人听不懂;我看你是存心和我为敌。
  
  克:现在先听我解释这一点。
  
  俄:别对我说你不是坏人。
  
  克:假如你把糊涂顽固当作美德,你就太不聪明了。
  
  俄:假如你认为谋害亲人能不受惩罚,你也算不得聪明。
  
  克:我承认你说得对。可是请你告诉我,我哪里伤害了你?
  
  俄:你不是劝我去请那道貌岸然的先知吗?
  
  克:我现在也还是这样主张。
  
  俄:已经隔了多久了,自从拉伊俄斯——
  
  克:自从他怎么样?我不明白你的意思。
  
  俄:——遭人暗杀死去后。
  
  克:算起来日子已经很长了。
  
  俄:那时候先知卖弄过他的法术吗?
  
  克:那时候他和现在一样聪明,一样受人尊敬。
  
  俄:那时候他提起过我吗?
  
  克:我在他身边没听见他提起过。
  
  俄:你们也没有为死者追究过这件案子?
  
  克:自然追究过,怎么会没有呢?可是没有结果。
  
  俄:那时候这聪明人为什么不把真情说出来呢?
  
  克:不知道;不知道的事我就不开口。
  
  俄:这一点你总是知道的,应该讲出来。
  
  克:哪一点?只要我知道,我不会不说。
  
  俄:要不是和你商量过,他不会说拉伊俄斯是我杀死的。
  
  克:要是他真这样说,你自己心里该明白;正像你质问我,现在我也有权质问你了。
  
  俄:你尽管质问,反正不能把我判成凶手。
  
  克:你难道没有娶我的姐姐吗?
  
  俄:这个问题自然不容我否认。
  
  克:你是不是和她一起治理城邦,享有同样权力?
  
  俄:我完全满足了她的心愿。
  
  克:我不是和你们俩相差不远,居第三位吗?
  
  俄:正是因为这缘故,你才成了不忠实的朋友。
  
  克:假如你也像我这样思考,就会知道事情并不是这样的。首先你想一想:谁会愿意做一个担惊受怕的国王,而不愿又有同样权力又是无忧无虑呢?我天生不想做国王,而只想做国王的事;这也正是每一个聪明人的想法。我现在安安心心地从你手里得到一切;如果做了国王,倒要做许多我不愿意做的事了。
    对我说来,王位会比无忧无虑的权势甜蜜吗?我不至于这样傻,不选择有利有益的荣誉。现在人人祝福我,人人欢迎我。有求于你的人也都来找我,从我手里得到一切。我怎么会放弃这个,追求别的呢?头脑清醒的人是不会做叛徒的。而且我也天生不喜欢这种念头,如果有谁谋反,我决不和他一起行动。
    为了证明我的话,你可以到皮托去调查,看我告诉你的神示真实不真实。如果你发现我和先知同谋不轨,请用我们两个人的——而不是你一个人的——名义处决我,把我捉来杀死。可是不要根据靠不住的判断,莫须有的证据就给我下罪名。随随便便把坏人当好人,把好人当坏人都是不对的。我认为,一个人如果抛弃他忠实的朋友,就等于抛弃他最珍惜的生命。这件事,毫无疑问,你终究是会明白的。因为一个正直的人要经过长久的时间才看得出来,一个坏人只要一天就认得出来。
  
  歌队长:主上啊,他怕跌跤,他的话说得很好。急于下判断总是不妥当啊!
  
  俄:那谋害者已经飞快地来到眼前,我得赶快将计就计。假如我不动,等着他,他会成功,我会失败。
  
  克:你打算怎么办?是不是把我放逐出境?
  
  俄:不,我不想把你放逐,我要你死,好叫人看看嫉妒人的下场。
  
  克:你的口气看来是不肯让步,不肯相信人?
  
  俄:……{原文在此处缺了一行}
  
  克:我看你很糊涂。
  
  俄:我对自己的事并不糊涂。
  
  克:那么你对我的事也该这样。
  
  俄:可是你是个坏人。
  
  克:要是你很愚蠢呢?
  
  俄:那我也要继续统治。
  
  克:统治得不好就不行!
  
  俄:城邦呀城邦!
  
  克:这城邦不单单是你的,我也有份。
  
  歌队长:两位主上啊,别说了。我看见伊俄卡斯忒从宫里出来了,她来得恰好,你们这场纠纷由她来调停,一定能很好地解决。
  
  [伊俄卡斯忒偕侍女自宫中上。
  
  伊:不幸的人啊,你们为什么这样愚蠢的争吵起来?这地方正在闹瘟疫,你们还引起私人纠纷,不觉得惭愧吗?(向俄狄浦斯)你还不快进屋去?克瑞翁,你也回家去吧。不要把一点不愉快的小事闹大了!
  
  克:姐姐,你丈夫要对我做可怕的事,两件里选一件,或者把我放逐,或者把我捉来杀死。
  
  俄:是呀,夫人,他要害我,对我下毒手。
  
  克:我要是做过你告发的事,我该倒霉,我该受诅咒而死。
  
  伊:俄狄浦斯呀,看在天神面上,首先为了他已经对神发了誓,其次也看在我和站在你面前的这些长老面上,相信他吧!
  
  歌队:(哀歌第一曲首节)主上啊,我恳求你,高高兴兴,清清醒醒地听从吧。
  
  俄:你要我怎么样?
  
  歌队:请你尊重他,他原先就不渺小,如今起了誓,就更显得伟大了。
  
  俄:那么你知道要我怎么样吗?
  
  歌队:知道。
  
  俄:你要说什么快说呀。
  
  歌队:请不要只凭不可靠的话就控告他,侮辱这位发过誓的朋友。
  
  俄:你要知道,你这要求,不是把我害死,就是把我放逐。
  
  歌队:(第二曲首节)我凭众神之中最显赫的赫利俄斯起誓,我决不是这个意思。我要是存这样的心,我宁愿为人神所共弃,不得好死。我这不幸的人所担心的是土地荒芜,你们所引起的灾难会加重那原有的灾难。(本节完)
  
  俄:那么让他去吧,尽管我命中注定要当场被杀,或被放逐出境。打动了我的心的,不是他的,而是你的可怜的话。他,不论在哪里,都会叫人痛恨。
  
  克:你盛怒时是那样凶狠,你让步时也是这样阴沉,这样的性情使你最受苦,也正是活该。
  
  俄:你还不快离开我,给我滚!
  
  克:我这就走。你不了解我;可是在这些长老看来,我却是个正派的人。
  
  [克瑞翁自观众右方下。
  
  歌队:(第一曲次节)夫人,你为什么迟迟不把他带进宫去?
  
  伊:等我问明白发生了什么事。
  
  歌队:这方面盲目地听信谣言,起了疑心;那方面感到不公平。
  
  伊:这场争吵是双方引起来的吗?
  
  歌队:是。
  
  伊:到底是怎么回事?
  
  歌队:够了,够了,在我们的土地受难的时候,这件事应该停止在打断的地方。
  
  俄:我看你的话说到哪里去了?你是个忠心的人,却来扑灭我的火气。
  
  歌队:(第二曲次节)主上啊,我说了不止一次了:我要是背弃你,我就是个失去理性的疯人;那时你,在我们可爱的城邦遭难的时候,曾经正确地为它领航,现在也希望你顺利地领航啊。(本节完)
  
  伊:主上啊,看在天神面上,告诉我,你为什么这样生气?
  
  俄:我这就告诉你;因为我尊重你胜过尊重那些人;原因就是克瑞翁在谋害我。
  
  伊:往下说吧,要是你能说明这场争吵为什么应当由他负责。
  
  俄:他说我是杀害拉伊俄斯的凶手。
  
  伊:是他自己知道的,还是听旁人说的?
  
  俄:都不是;是他收买了一个无赖的先知作喉舌;他自己的喉舌倒是清白的。
  
  伊:你所说的这件事,你尽可放心;你听我说下去,就会知道,并没有一个凡人能精通预言术。关于这一点,我可以给你个简单的证据。
    有一次,拉伊俄斯得了个神示——我不能说那是福玻斯亲自说的,只能说那是他的祭司说出来的—

—它说厄运会向他突然袭来,叫他死在他和我所生的儿子手中。
    可是现在我们听说,拉伊俄斯是在三岔路口被一伙外邦强盗杀死的;我们的婴儿,出生不到三天,就被拉伊俄斯钉住左右脚跟,叫人丢在没有人迹的荒山里了。
    既然如此,阿波罗就没有叫那婴儿成为杀父的凶手,也没有叫拉伊俄斯死在儿子手中——这正是他害怕的事。先知的话结果不过如此,你用不着听信。凡是天神必须作的事,他自会使它实现,那是全不费力的。
  
  俄:夫人,听了你的话,我心神不安,魂飞魄散。
  
  伊:什么事使你这样吃惊,说出这样的话?
  
  俄:你好像是说,拉伊俄斯被杀是在一个三岔路口。
  
  伊:故事是这样;至今还在流传。
  
  俄:那不幸的事发生在什么地方?
  
  伊:那地方叫福喀斯,通往得尔福和道利亚的两条岔路在那里会合。
  
  俄:事情发生了多久了?
  
  伊:这消息是你快要作国王的时候向全城公布的。
  
  俄:宙斯啊,你打算把我怎么样呢?
  
  伊:俄狄浦斯,这件事怎么使你这样发愁?
  
  俄:你先别问我,倒是先告诉我,拉伊俄斯是什么模样,有多大年纪。
  
  伊:他个子很高,头上刚有白头发;模样和你差不多。
  
  俄:哎呀,我刚才像是凶狠地诅咒了自己,可是自己还不知道。
  
  伊:你说什么?主上啊,我看着你就发抖啊。
  
  俄:我真怕那先知的眼睛并没有瞎。你再告诉我一件事,事情就更清楚了。
  
  伊:我虽然在发抖,你的话我一定会答复的。
  
  俄:他只带了少数侍从,还是像国王那样带了许多卫兵?
  
  伊:一共五个人,其中一个是传令官,还有一辆马车,是给拉伊俄斯坐的。
  
  俄:哎呀,真相已经很清楚了!夫人啊,这消息是谁告诉你的。
  
  伊:是一个仆人,只有他活着回来了。
  
  俄:那仆人现在还在家里吗?
  
  伊:不在;他从那地方回来以后,看见你掌握了王权,拉伊俄斯完了,他就拉着我的手,求我把他送到乡下,牧羊的草地上去,远远的离开城市。我把他送去了,他是个好仆人,应当得到更大的奖赏。
  
  俄:我希望他回来,越快越好!
  
  伊:这倒容易;可是你为什么希望他回来呢?
  
  俄:夫人,我是怕我的话说得太多了,所以想把他召回来。
  
  伊:他会回来的;可是,主上啊,你也该让我知道,你心里到底有什么不安。
  
  俄:你应该知道我是多么忧虑。碰上这样的命运,我还能把话讲给哪一个比你更应该知道的人听?
    我父亲是科任托斯人,名叫波吕玻斯,我母亲是多里斯人,名叫墨洛珀。我在那里一直被尊为公民中的第一个人物,直到后来发生了一件意外的事——那虽是奇怪,倒还值不得放在心上。那是在某一次宴会上,有个人喝醉了,说我是我父亲的冒名儿子。当天我非常烦恼,好容易才忍耐住;第二天我去问我的父母,他们因为这辱骂对那乱说话的人很生气。我虽然满意了,但是事情总是使我很烦恼,因为诽谤的话到处都在流传。我就瞒着父母去到皮托,福玻斯没有答复我去求问的事,就把我打发走了;可是他却说了另外一些预言,十分可怕,十分悲惨,他说我命中注定要玷污我母亲的床榻,生出一些使人不忍看的儿女,而且会成为杀死我的生身父亲的凶手。
    我听了这些话,就逃到外地去,免得看见那个会实现神示所说的耻辱的地方,从此我就凭了天象测量科任托斯的土地。我在旅途中来到你所说的,国王遇害的地方。夫人,我告诉你真实情况吧。我走近三岔路口的时候,碰见一个传令官和一个坐马车的人,正像你所说的,那领路的和那老年人态度粗暴,要把我赶到路边。我在气愤中打了那个推我的人——那个驾车的;那老年人看见了,等我经过的时候,从车上用双尖头的刺棍朝我头上打过来。可是他付出了一个不相称的代价,立刻挨了我手中的棍子,从车上仰面滚下来了;我就把他们全杀死了。
    如果我这客人和拉伊俄斯有了什么亲属关系,谁还比我更可怜?谁还比我更为天神所憎恨?没有一个公民或外邦人能够在家里接待我,没有人能够和我交谈,人人都得把我赶出门外。这诅咒不是别人加在我身上的,而是我自己。我用这双手玷污了死者的床榻,也就是用这双手把他杀死的。我不是个坏人吗?我不是肮脏不洁吗?我得出外流亡,在流亡中看不见亲人,也回不了祖国;要不然,就得娶我的母亲,杀死那生我养我的父亲波吕玻斯。
    如果有人断定这些事是天神给我造成的,不也说得正对吗?你们这些可敬的神圣的神啊,别让我,别让我看见那一天!在我没有看见这些罪恶的污点沾到我身上之前,请让我离开尘世。
  
  歌队长:在我们看来,主上啊,这件事是可怕的;但是在你还没有向那证人打听清楚之前,不要失望。
  
  俄:我只有这一点希望了,只好等待那牧人。
  
  伊:等他来了,你想打听什么?
  
  俄:告诉你吧;他的话如果和你的相符,我就没有灾难了。
  
  伊:你从我这里听出了什么不对头的话呢?
  
  俄:你曾告诉我,那牧人说过杀死拉伊俄斯的是一伙强盗。如果他说的还是同样的人数,那就不是我杀的了;因为一个总不等于许多。如果他只说是一个单身的旅客,这罪行就落在我身上了。
  
  伊:你应该相信,他是那样说的;他不能把话收回;因为全城的人都听见了,不单是我一个人。即使他改变了以前的话,主上啊,也不能证明拉伊俄斯的死和神示所说的真正相符;因为罗克西阿斯说的是,他注定要死在我儿子手中,可是那不幸的婴儿没有杀死他的父亲,倒是自己先死了。从那时以后,我就再不因为神示而左顾右盼了。
  
  俄:你的看法对。不过还是派人去把那牧人叫来,不要忘记了。
  
  伊:我马上派人去。我们进去吧。凡是你所喜欢的事我都照办。
  
  (俄狄浦斯偕众侍从进宫,伊俄卡斯忒偕侍女随入。)
  
  六 第二合唱歌歌队: (第一曲首节)愿命运依然看见我一切的言行保持神圣的清白,为了规定这些言行,天神制定了许多最高的律条,它们出生在高天上,它们唯一的父亲是俄林波斯,不是凡人,谁也不能把它们忘记,使它们入睡;天神是靠了这些律条才有力量,得以长生不死。
    (第一曲次节)傲慢产生暴君;它若是富有金钱——得来不是时候,没有益处——它若是爬上最高的墙顶,就会落到最不幸的命运中,有脚没用处。愿天神不要禁止那对城邦有益的竞赛;我永远把天神当作守护神。
    (第二曲首节)如果有人不畏正义之神,不敬神像,言行上十分傲慢,如果他贪图不正当的利益,做出不敬神的事,愚蠢地玷污圣物,愿厄运为了这不吉利的傲慢行为把它捉住。
    做了这样的事,谁敢夸说他的性命躲避得了天神的箭?如果这样的行为是可敬的,那么我何必在这里歌舞呢?
    (第二曲次节)如果这神示不应验,不给大家看清楚,那么我就不诚心诚意去朝拜奥林匹亚或阿拜的庙宇。王啊——如果我们可以这样正当地称呼你——统治一切的宙斯啊,别让这事件躲避你的注意,躲避你的不灭的威力。
    关于拉伊俄斯的古老的预言已经寂静了,不被人注意了,阿波罗到处不受人尊敬,对神的崇拜从此衰微。
  
  七 第三场 [伊俄卡斯忒偕侍女自宫中上。
  
  伊:我邦的长老们啊,我想起了拿着这缠羊毛的树枝和香料到神的庙上;因为俄狄浦斯由于各种忧虑,心里很紧张,他不像一个清醒的人,不会凭旧事推断新事;只要有人说出恐怖的话,他就随他摆布。
    我既然劝不了他,只好带着这些象征祈求的礼物来求你,吕刻俄斯•阿波罗啊——因为你离我最近——请给我们一个避免污染的方法。我们看见他受惊,像乘客看见船工舵工受惊一样,大家都害怕。
  
  [报信人自观众左方上。
  
  信:啊,客人们,我可以向你们打听俄狄浦斯王的宫殿在哪里吗?最好告诉我他本人在哪里,要是你们知道的话。
  
  歌队:啊,客人,这就是他的家,他本人在里面;这位夫人是他儿女的母亲。
  
  信:愿她在幸福的家里永远幸福,既然她是他的全福的妻子!
  
  伊:啊,客人,愿你也幸福;你说了吉祥的话,应当受我回敬。请你告诉我,你来求什么,或者有什么消息见告。
  
  信:夫人,对你家和你丈夫是好消息。
  
  伊:什么消息?你是从什么人那里来的?
  
  信:从科任托斯来的。你听了我要报告的消息一定高兴。怎么会不高兴呢?但也许还会发愁呢。
  
  伊:到底是什么消息?怎么会是我高兴又是我发愁?
  
  信:人民要立俄狄浦斯为伊斯特摩斯地方的王,那里是这样说的。
  
  伊:怎么?老波吕玻斯不是还在掌权吗?
  
  信:不掌权了;因为死神已把他关进坟墓了。
  
  伊:你说什么?老人家,波吕玻斯死了吗?
  
  信:倘若我撒谎,我愿意死。
  
  伊:侍女呀,还不快去告诉主人?
    (侍女进宫。)
    啊,天神的预言,你成了什么东西了?俄狄浦斯多年来所害怕的,所要躲避的正是这人,他害怕把他杀了;现在他已寿尽而死,不是死在俄狄浦斯手中的。
  
  [俄狄浦斯偕众侍从自宫中上。
  
  俄:啊,伊俄卡斯忒,最亲爱的夫人,为什么把我从屋里叫来?
  
  伊:请听这人说话,你一边听,一边想天神的可怕的预言成了什么东西了。
  
  俄:他是谁?有什么消息见告?
  
  伊:他是从科任托斯来的,来讣告你父亲波吕玻斯不在了,去世了。
  
  俄:你说什么,客人?亲自告诉我吧。
  
  信:如果我得先把事情讲明白,我就让你知道,他死了,去世了。
  
  俄:他是死于阴谋,还是死于疾病?
  
  信:天平稍微倾斜,一个老年人便长眠不醒。
  
  俄:那不幸的人好像是害病死的。
  
  信:并且因为他年高寿尽了。
  
  俄:啊!夫人呀,我们为什么要重视皮托的颁布预言的宇宙,或空中啼叫的鸟儿呢?它们曾经指出我命中注定要杀我父亲。但是他已经死了,埋进了泥土;我却还在这里,没有动过刀枪。除非说他是因为思念我而死的,那么倒是我害死了他。这似灵不灵的神示已被波吕玻斯随身带着,和他一起躺在冥府里,不值半文钱了。
  
  伊:我不是早这样告诉了你吗?
  
  俄:我倒是这样想过,可是,我因为害怕,迷失了方向。
  
  伊:现在别再把这件事放在心上了。
  
  俄:难道我不该害怕玷污我母亲的床榻吗?
  
  伊:偶然控制着我们,未来的事又看不清楚,我们为什么惧怕呢?最好尽可能随随便便地生活。别害怕你会玷污你母亲的婚姻;许多人曾在梦中娶过母亲;但是那些不以为意的人却安乐地生活。
  
  俄:要不是我母亲还活着,你这话倒也对;可是她既然健在,即使你说得对,我也应当害怕啊!
  
  伊:可是你父亲的死总是个很大的安慰。
  
  俄:我知道是个很大的安慰,可是我害怕那活着的妇人。
  
  信:你害怕的妇人是谁呀?
  
  俄:老人家,是波吕玻斯的妻子墨洛珀。
  
  信:她哪一点使你害怕?
  
  俄:啊,客人,是因为神送来的可怕的预言。
  
  信:说得说不得?是不是不可以让人知道?
  
  俄:当然可以。罗克西阿斯曾说我命中注定要娶自己的母亲,亲手杀死自己的父亲。因此多年来我远离着科任托斯。我在此虽然幸福,可是看见父母的容颜是件很大的乐事啊。
  
  信:你真的因为害怕这些事,离开了那里?
  
  俄:啊,老人家,还因为我不想成为杀父的凶手。
  
  信:主上啊,我怀着好意前来,怎么不能解除你的恐惧呢?
  
  俄:你依然可以从我手里得到很大的应得的报酬。
  
  信:我是特别为此而来的,等你回去的时候,我可以得到一些好处呢。
  
  俄:但是我决不肯回到我父母家里。
  
  信:年轻人!显然你不知道你在做什么。
  
  俄:怎么不知道呢,老人家?看在天神面上,告诉我吧。
  
  信:如果你是为了这个缘故不敢回家。
  
  俄:我害怕福玻斯的预言在我身上应验。
  
  信:是不是害怕因为杀父娶母而犯罪?
  
  俄:是的,老人家,这件事一直在吓唬我。
  
  信:你知道你没有理由害怕么?
  
  俄:怎么没有呢,如果我是他们的儿子?
  
  信:因为你和波吕玻斯没有血缘关系。
  
  俄:你说什么?难道波吕玻斯不是我的父亲?
  
  信:正像我不是你的父亲,他也同样不是。
  
  俄:我的父亲怎能和你这个同我没关系的人同样不是?
  
  信:你不是他生的,也不是我生的。
  
  俄:那么他为什么称呼我作他的儿子呢?
  
  信:告诉你吧,是因为他从我手中把你当一件礼物接受了下来。
  
  俄:但是他为什么十分爱别人送的孩子呢?
  
  信:他从前没有儿子,所以才这样爱你。
  
  俄:是你把我买来,还是你把我捡来送给他的?
  
  信:是我从喀泰戎峡谷里把你捡来送给他的。
  
  俄:你为什么到那一带去呢?
  
  信:在那里放牧山上的羊。
  
  俄:你是个牧人,还是个到处漂泊的佣工?
  
  信:年轻人,那时候我是你的救命恩人。
  
  俄:你把我抱在怀里的时候,我有没有什么痛苦?
  
  信:你的脚跟可以证实你的痛苦。
  
  俄:哎呀,你为什么提起这个老毛病?
  
  信:那时候你的左右脚跟是钉在一起的,我给你解开了。
  
  俄:那是我襁褓时期遭受的莫大的耻辱。
  
  信:是呀,你是由这不幸而得到你现在的名字的。
  
  俄:看在天神面上,告诉我,这件事是我父亲还是我母亲做的?你说。
  
  信:我不知道;那把你送给我的人比我知道得清楚。
  
  俄:怎么?是你从别人那里把我接过来的,不是自己捡来的吗?
  
  信:不是自己捡来的,是另一个牧人把你送给我的。
  
  俄:他是谁?你指得出来吗?
  
  信:他被称为拉伊俄斯的仆人。
  
  俄:是这地方从前的国王的仆人吗?
  
  信:是的,是国王的牧人。
  
  俄:他还活着吗?我可以看见他吗?
  
  信:(向歌队)你们这些本地人应当知道得最清楚。
  
  俄:你们这些站在我面前的人里面,有谁在乡下或城里见过他所说的牧人,认识他?赶快说吧!这是水落石出的时机。
  
  歌队长:我认为他所说的不是别人,正是你刚才要找的乡下人,这件事伊俄卡斯忒最能够说明。
  
  俄:夫人,你还记得我们刚才想召见的人吗?这人所说的是不是他?
  
  伊:为什么问他所说的是谁?不必理会这事。不要记住他的话。
  
  俄:我得到了这样的线索,还不能发现我的血缘,这可不行。
  
  伊:看在天神面上,如果你关心自己的性命,就不要再追问了;我自己的苦闷已经够了。
  
  俄:你放心,即使我发现我母亲三世为奴,我有三重奴隶身分,你出身也不卑贱。
  
  伊:我求你听我的话,不要这样。
  
  俄:我不听你的话,我要把事情弄清楚。
  
  伊:我愿你好,好心好意劝你。
  
  俄:你这片好心好意一直在使我苦恼。
  
  伊:啊,不幸的人,愿你不知道你的身世。
  
  俄:谁去把牧人带来?让这个女人去赏玩她的高贵门第吧!
  
  伊:哎呀,哎呀,不幸的人呀!我只有这句话对你说,从此再没有别的话可说了!
  
  [伊俄卡斯忒冲进宫。
  
  歌队长:俄狄浦斯,王后为什么在这样忧伤的心情下冲了进去?我害怕她这样闭着嘴,会有祸事发生。
  
  俄:要发生就发生吧!即使我的出身卑贱,我也要弄清楚。那女人——女人总是很高傲的——她也许因为我出身卑贱感觉羞耻。但是我认为我是仁慈的幸运的宠儿,不至于受辱。幸运的是我的母亲;十二个月份是我的弟兄,他们能划出我什么时候渺小,什么时候伟大。这就是我的身世,我决不会被证明是另一个人;因此我一定要追问我的血统。
  
  八 第三合唱歌歌队: (首节)啊,喀泰戎山,假如我是个先知,心里聪明,我敢当着俄林波斯说,等明晚月圆时,你一定会感觉俄狄浦斯尊你为他的故乡、母亲和保姆,我们也载歌载舞赞美你;因为你对我们的国王有恩德。福玻斯啊,愿这事讨你欢喜!
    (次节)我的儿,哪一位,哪一位和潘——那个在山上游玩的父亲——接近的仙女是你的母亲?是不是罗克西阿斯的妻子?高原上的草地他全都喜爱。也许是库勒涅的王,或者狂女们的神,那位住在山顶上的神,从赫利孔仙女——他最爱和那些仙女嬉戏——手中接受了你这婴儿。
  
九 第四场
俄:长老们,如果让我猜想,我以为我看见的是我们一直在寻找的牧人,虽然我没有见过他。他的年纪和这客人一般大;我并且认识那些带路的是自己的仆人。(向歌队长)也许你比我认识得清楚,如果你见过这牧人。
  
  歌队长:告诉你吧,我认识他;他是拉伊俄斯家里的人,作为一个牧人,他和其他的人一样可靠。
  
  [众仆人带领牧人自观众左方上。
  
  俄:啊,科任托斯客人,我先问你,你指的是不是他?
  
  信:我指的正是你看见的人。
  
  俄:喂,老头儿,朝这边看,回答我问你的话。你是拉伊俄斯家里的人吗?
  
  牧:我是他家养大的奴隶,不是买来的。
  
  俄:你干的什么工作,过的什么生活?
  
  牧:大半辈子放羊。
  
  俄:你通常在什么地方住羊棚?
  
  牧:有时候在喀泰戎山上,有时候在那附近。
  
  俄:还记得你在那地方见过这人吗?
  
  牧:见过什么?你指的是哪个?
  
  俄:我指的是眼前的人;你碰见过他没有?
  
  牧:我一下子想不起来,不敢说碰见过。
  
  信:主上啊,一点也不奇怪。我能使他清清楚楚回想起那些已经忘记了的事。我相信他记得他带着两群羊,我带着一群羊,我们在喀泰戎山上从春天到阿耳克图洛斯初升的时候做过三个半年朋友。到了冬天,我赶着羊回我的羊圈,他赶着羊回拉伊俄斯的羊圈。(向牧人)我说的是不是真事?
  
  牧:你说的是真事,虽是老早的事了。
  
  信:喂,告诉我,还记得那时候你给了我一个婴儿,叫我当自己的儿子养着吗?
  
  牧:你是什么意思?干吗问这句话?
  
  信:好朋友,这就是他,那时候是个婴儿。
  
  牧:该死的家伙!还不快住嘴!
  
  俄:啊,老头儿,不要骂他,你说这话倒是更该挨骂!
  
  牧:好主上啊,我有什么错呢?
  
  俄:因为你不回答他问你的关于那孩子的事。
  
  牧:他什么都不晓得,却要多嘴,简直是白搭。
  
  俄:你不痛痛快快回答,要挨了打哭着回答!
  
  牧:看在天神面上,不要拷打一个老头子。
  
  俄:(向侍从)还不快把他的手反绑起来?
  
  牧:哎呀,为什么呢?你还要打听什么呢?
  
  俄:你是不是把他所问的那孩子给了他?
  
  牧:我给了他;愿我在那一天就瞪了眼!
  
  俄:你会死的,要是你不说真话。
  
  牧:我说了真话,更该死了。
  
  俄:这家伙好像还想拖延时候。
  
  牧:我不想拖延时候,我刚才已经说过我给了他。
  
  俄:哪里来的?是你自己的,还是从别人那里得来的?
  
  牧:这孩子不是我自己的,是别人给我的。
  
  俄:哪个公民,哪家给你的?
  
  牧:看在天神面上,不要,主人啊,不要再问了!
  
  俄:如果我再追问,你就活不成了。
  
  牧:他是拉伊俄斯家里的孩子。
  
  俄:是个奴隶,还是个亲属?
  
  牧:哎呀,我要讲那怕人的事了!
  
  俄:我要听那怕人的事了!也只好听下去。
  
  牧:人家说是他的儿子,但是里面的娘娘,主上家的,最能告诉你是怎么回事。
  
  俄:是她交给你的吗?
  
  牧:是,主上。
  
  俄:是什么用意呢?
  
  牧:叫我把他弄死。
  
  俄:作母亲的这样狠心吗?
  
  牧:因为她害怕那不吉利的神示。
  
  俄:什么神示?
  
  牧:人家说他会杀他父亲。
  
  俄:你为什么又把他送给了这老人呢?
  
  牧:主上啊,我可怜他,我心想他会把他带到别的地方——他的家里去;哪知他救了他,反而闯了大祸。如果你就是他所说的人,我说,你生来是个受苦的人啊!
  
  俄:哎呀!哎呀!一切都应验了!天光啊,我现在向你看最后一眼!我成了不应当生我的父母的儿子,娶了不应当娶的母亲,杀了不应当杀的父亲。
  
  [俄狄浦斯冲进宫,众侍从随入,报信人、牧人和众仆人自观众左方下。
  
  十 第四合唱歌歌队: (第一曲首节)凡人的子孙啊,我把你们的生命当作一场空!谁的幸福不是表面现象,一会儿就消灭了?不幸的俄狄浦斯,你的命运,你的命运警告我不要说凡人是幸福的。
    (第一曲次节)宙斯啊,他比别人射得远,获得了莫大的幸福,他弄死了那个出谜语的,长弯爪的女妖,挺身做了我邦抵御死亡的堡垒。从那时候起,俄狄浦斯,我们称你为王,你统治着强大的忒拜,享受着最高的荣誉。
    (第二曲首节)但如今,有谁的身世听起来比你的可怜?有谁在凶恶的灾祸中,在苦难中遭遇着人生的变迁,比你可怜?
    哎呀,闻名的俄狄浦斯!那同一个宽阔的港口够你使用了,你进那里作儿子,又扮新郎作父亲。不幸的人呀,你父亲耕种的土地怎能够,怎能够一声不响,容许你耕种了这么久?
    (第二曲次节)那无所不见的时光终于出乎你意料之外发现了你,它审判了这不清洁的婚姻,这婚姻使儿子成为了丈夫。
    哎呀,拉伊俄斯的儿子啊,愿我,愿我从没有见过你!我为你痛哭,像一个哭丧的人!说老实话,你先前使我重新呼吸,现在使我闭上眼睛。
  
  十一 退 场 [传报人自宫中上。
  
  传:我邦最受尊敬的长老们啊,你们将听见多么惨的事情,将看见多么惨的景象,你们将是多么忧虑,如果你们效忠你们的种族,依然关心拉布达科斯的家室。我认为即使是伊斯忒耳和法息斯河也洗不干净这个家,它既隐藏着一些灾祸,又要把另一些暴露在光天化日之下,这些都不是无心,而是有意做出来的。自己招来的苦难总是最使人痛心啊!
  
  歌队长:我们先前知道的苦难也并不是不可悲啊!此外,你还有什么苦难要说?
  
  传:我的话可以一下子说完,一下子听完:高贵的伊俄卡斯忒已经死了。
  
  歌队长:不幸的人啊!她是怎么死的?
  
  传:她自杀了。这件事最惨痛的地方你们感觉不到,因为你们没有亲眼看见。我记得多少,告诉你多少。
    她发了疯,穿过门廊,双手抓着头发,直向她的新床跑去;她进了卧房,砰的关上门,呼唤那早已死的拉伊俄斯的名字,想念她早年生的儿子,说拉伊俄斯死在他手中,留下作母亲的给他的儿子生一些不幸的儿女。她为她的床榻而悲叹,她多么不幸,在那上面生了两种人,给丈夫生丈夫,给儿子生儿女。她后来是怎样死的,我就不知道了;因为俄狄浦斯大喊大叫冲进宫去,我们没法看完她的悲剧,而转眼望着他横冲直闯。他跑来跑去,叫我们给他一把剑,还问哪里去找他的妻子,又说不是妻子,是母亲,他和他儿女共有的母亲。他在疯狂中得到了一位天神的指点;因为我们这些靠近他的人都没有给他指路。好像有谁在引导,他大叫一声,朝着那双扇门冲去,把弄弯了的门杠从承孔里一下推开,冲进了卧房。
    我们随即看见王后在里面吊着,脖子缠在那摆动的绳上。国王看见了,发出可怕的喊声,多么可怜!他随即解开那活套。等那不幸的人躺在地上时,我们就看见那可怕的景象:国王从她袍子上摘下两只她佩带着的金别针,举起来朝着自己的眼珠刺去,并且这样嚷道:“你们再也看不见我所受的灾难,我所造的罪恶了!你们看够了你们不应当看的人,不认识我想认识的人;你们从此黑暗无光!”
    他这样悲叹的时候,屡次举起金别针朝着眼睛狠狠刺去;每刺一下,那血红的眼珠里流出的血便打湿了他的胡子,那血不是一滴滴地滴,而是许多黑的血点,雹子般一齐降下。这场祸事是两个人惹出来的,不只一人受难,而是夫妻共同受难。他们旧时代的幸福在从前倒是真正的幸福;但如今,悲哀,毁灭,死亡,耻辱和一切有名称的灾难都落到他们身上了。
  
  歌队长:现在那不幸的人的痛苦是不是已经缓和一点了?
  
  传:他大声叫人把宫门打开,让全体忒拜人看看他父亲的凶手,他母亲的——我不便说那不干净的话;他愿出外流亡,不愿留下,免得这个家在他的诅咒之下有了灾祸。可是他没有力气,没有人带领;那样的苦恼不是人所能忍受的。他会给你看的;现在宫门打开了,你立刻可以看见那样一个景象,即使是不喜欢看的人也会发生怜悯之情的。
  
  [众侍从带领俄狄浦斯自宫中上。
  
  歌队:(哀歌)这苦难啊,叫人看了害怕!我所看见的最可怕的苦难啊!可怜的人呀,是什么疯狂缠绕着你?是哪一位神跳得比最远的跳跃还要远,落到了你这不幸的生命上?
    哎呀,哎呀,不幸的人啊!我想问你许多事,打听许多事,观察许多事,可是我不能望你一眼;你吓得我发抖啊!
  
  俄:哎呀呀,我多么不幸啊!我这不幸的人哪里去呢?我的声音轻飘飘的飞到哪里去了?命运啊,你跳到哪里去了?
  
  歌队长:跳到可怕的灾难中去了,不可叫人听见,不可叫人看见。
  
  俄:(第一曲首节)黑暗之云啊,你真可怕,你来势凶猛,无法抵抗,是太顺的风把你吹来的。
    哎呀,哎呀!
    这些刺伤了我,这些灾难的回忆伤了我。
  
  歌队:你这做了可怕的事的人啊,你怎么忍心弄瞎了自己的眼睛?是哪一位天神怂恿你的?
  
  俄:(第二曲首节)是阿波罗,朋友们,是阿波罗使这些凶恶的,凶恶的灾难实现的;但是刺瞎了这两只眼睛的不是别人的手,而是我自己的,我多么不幸啊!什么东西看来都没有趣味,又何必看呢?
  
  歌队:事情正像你所说的。
  
  俄:朋友们,还有什么可看的,什么可爱的,还有什么问候使我听了高兴呢?朋友们,快把我这完全毁了的,最该诅咒的,最为天神所憎恨的人带出,带出境外吧!
  
  歌队:你的感觉和你的命运同样可怜,但愿我从来不知道你这人。
  
  俄:(第二曲次节)那在牧场上把我脚上残忍的铁镣解下的人,那把我从凶杀里救活的人——不论他是谁——真是该死,因为他做的是一件不使人感激的事。假如我那时候死了,也不至于使我和我的朋友们这样痛苦了。
  
  歌队:但愿如此!
  
  俄:那么我不至于成为杀父的凶手,不至于被人称为我母亲的丈夫;但如今,我是天神所弃绝的人,是不清洁的母亲的儿子,并且是,哎呀,我父亲的共同播种的人。如果还有什么更严重的灾难,也应该归俄狄浦斯忍受啊。
  
  歌队:我不能说你的意见对;你最好死去,胜过瞎着眼睛活着。(哀歌完)
  
  俄:别说这件事做得不妙,别劝告我了。假如我到冥土的时候还看得见,不知当用什么样的眼睛去看我父亲和我不幸的母亲,既然我曾对他们做出死有余辜的罪行。我看着这些生出的儿女顺眼吗?不,不顺眼;就连这城堡,这望楼,神们的神圣的偶像,我看着也不顺眼;因为我,忒拜城最高贵而又最不幸的人,已经丧失了观看的权利了;我曾命令所有的人把那不清洁的人赶出去,即使他是天神所宣布的罪人,拉伊俄斯的儿子。我既然暴露了这样的污点,还能集中眼光看这些人吗?不,不能;如果有方法可以闭塞耳中的听觉,我一定把这可怜的身体封起来,使我不闻不见;当心神不为忧愁所扰乱时是多么舒畅啊!
    唉,喀泰戎,你为什么收容我?为什么不把我捉来杀了,免得我在人们面前暴露我的身世?波吕玻斯啊,科任托斯啊,还有你这被称为我祖先的古老的家啊,你们把我抚养成人,皮肤多么好看,下面却有毒疮在溃烂啊!我现在被发现是个卑贱的人,是卑贱的人所生。
    你们三条道路和幽谷啊,像树林和三岔路口的窄路啊,你们从我手中吸饮了我父亲的血,也就是我的血,你们还记得我当着你们做了些什么事,来这里以后又做了些什么事吗?
    婚礼啊,婚礼啊,你生了我,生了之后,又给你的孩子生孩子,你造成了父亲,哥哥,儿子,以及新娘,妻子,母亲的乱伦关系,人间最可耻的事。
    不应当作的事就不应当拿来讲。看在天神面上,快把我藏在远处,或是把我杀死,或是把我丢到海里,你们不会在那里再看见我了。来呀,牵一牵这可怜的人把;答应我,别害怕,因为我的罪除了自己担当而外,别人是不会沾染的。
  
  歌队长:克瑞翁来得巧,正好满足你的要求,不论你要他给你家做什么事,或者给你什么劝告,如今只有他代你做这地方的保护人。
  
  俄:唉,我对他说什么好呢?我怎能合理的要求他相信我呢?我先前太对不住他了。
  
  [克瑞翁自观众右方上。
  
  克:俄狄浦斯,我不是来讥笑你的,也不是来责备你过去的罪过的。
    (向众侍从)尽管你们不再重视凡人的子孙,也得尊敬我们的主宰赫利俄斯的养育万物之光,为此,不要把这一种为大地、圣雨和阳光所厌恶的污染,赤裸的摆出来。快把他带进宫去!只有亲属才能看、才能听亲属的苦难,这样才合乎宗教上的规矩。
  
  俄:你既然带着最高贵的精神来到我这最坏的人这里,使我的忧虑冰释了,请看在天神面上,答应我一件事,我是为你好,不是为我好而请求啊。
  
  克:你对我有什么请求?
  
  俄:赶快把我扔出境外,扔到那没有人向我问好的地方去。
  
  克:告诉你吧,如果我不想先问神怎么办,我早就这样做了。
  
  俄:他的神示早就明白的宣布了,要把那杀父的,那不洁的人毁了,我自己就是那人哩。
  
  克:神示虽然这样说的,但是在目前的情况下,最好还是去问问怎样办。
  
  俄:你愿去为我这么不幸的人问问吗?
  
  克:我愿意去;你现在要相信神的话。
  
  俄:是的;我还要吩咐你,恳求你把屋里的人埋了,你愿意怎样埋就怎样埋;你会为你姐姐正当的尽这礼仪的。当我在世的时候,不要逼迫我住在我的祖城里,还是让我住在山上吧,那里是因我而著名的喀泰戎,我父母在世的时候曾指定那座山作为我的坟墓,我正好按照要杀我的人的意思死去。但是我有这么一点把握:疾病或别的什么都害不死我;若不是还有奇灾异难,我不会从死亡里被人救活。
    我的命运要到哪里,就让它到哪里吧。提起我的儿女,克瑞翁,请不必关心我的儿子门;他们是男人,不论在什么地方,都不会缺少衣食;但是我那两个不幸的,可怜的女儿——她们从来没有看见我把自己的食桌支在一边,不陪她们吃饭;凡是我吃的东西,她们都有份——请你照应她们;请特别让我抚摸着她们悲叹我的灾难。答应吧,亲王,精神高贵的人!只要我抚摸着她们,我就会认为她们依然是我的,正像我没有瞎眼的时候一样。
    (二侍从进宫,随即带领安提戈涅和伊斯墨涅自宫中上。)
    啊,这是怎么回事?看在天神的面上,告诉我,我听见的是不是我亲爱的女儿们的哭声?是不是克瑞翁怜悯我,把我的宝贝——我的女儿们送来了?我说得对吗?
  
  克:你说得对;这是我安排的,我知道你从前喜欢她们,现在也喜欢她们。
  
  俄:愿你有福!为了报答你把她们送来,愿天神保佑你远胜过他保佑我。
    (向二女孩)孩儿们,你们在哪里,快到这里来,到你们的同胞手里来,是这双手使你们父亲先前明亮的眼睛变瞎的,啊,孩儿们,这双手是那没有认清楚人,没有了解情况,就通过生身母亲成为你们父亲的人的。我看不见你们了;想起你们日后辛酸的生活——人们会叫你们过那样的生活——我就为你们痛苦。你们能参加什么社会生活,能参加什么节日典礼呢?你们看不见热闹,会哭着回家。等你们到了结婚年龄,孩儿们,有谁来冒挨骂的危险呢?那种辱骂对我的子女和你们的子女都是有害的。什么耻辱你们少得了呢?“你们的父亲杀了他的父亲,把种子撒在生身母亲那里,从自己出生的地方生了你们。”你们会这样挨骂的;谁还会娶你们呢?啊,孩儿们,没有人会;显然你们命中注定不结婚,不生育,憔悴而死。
    墨诺叩斯的儿子啊,你既是她们唯一的父亲——因为我们,她们的父母,两人都完了——就别坐视她们,你的甥女,在外流浪,没衣没食,没有丈夫,别使她们和我一样受难。看她们这样年轻,孤苦伶仃——在你面前,就不同了——你得可怜她们。
    啊,高贵的人,同我握手,表示答应吧!
    (向二女孩)我的孩儿,假如你们已经懂事了,我一定给你们出许多主意;但是我现在只教你们这样祷告,说机会让你们住在哪里,你们就愿住在哪里,希望你们的生活比你们父亲的快乐。
  
  克:你已经哭够了;进宫去吧。
  
  俄:我得服从,尽管心里不痛快。
  
  克:万事都要合事宜才好。
  
  俄:你知道不知道我要在什么条件下才进去?
  
  克:你说吧,我听了就会知道。
  
  俄:就是把我送出境外。
  
  克:你向我请求的事要天神才能答应。
  
  俄:神们最恨我。
  
  克:那么你很快就可以满足你的心愿。
  
  俄:你答应了吗?
  
  克:不喜欢做的事我不喜欢白说。
  
  俄:现在带我走吧。
  
  克:走吧,放了孩子们!
  
  俄:不要从我怀抱中把她们抢走!
  
  克:别想占有一切;你所占有的东西没有一生跟着你。
  
  [众侍从带领俄狄浦斯进宫,克瑞翁、二女孩和传报人随入。
  
  歌队长:忒拜本邦的居民啊,请看,这就是俄狄浦斯,他道破了那著名的谜语,成为最伟大的人;哪一位公民不曾带着羡慕的眼光注视他的好运?他现在却落到可怕的灾难的波浪中了!
    因此,当我们等着瞧那最末的日子的时候,不要说一个凡人是幸福的,在他还没有跨过生命的界限,还没有得到痛苦的解脱之前。
  
  [歌队自观众右方退场。

Oedipus the King
By Sophocles

Translated by F. Storr

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Dramatis Personae

OEDIPUS
THE PRIEST OF ZEUS
CREON
CHORUS OF THEBAN ELDERS
TEIRESIAS
JOCASTA
MESSENGER
HERD OF LAIUS

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Thebes. Before the Palace of Oedipus. Suppliants of all ages are seated
round the altar at the palace doors, at their head a PRIEST OF ZEUS.
To them enter OEDIPUS.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

OEDIPUS My children, latest born to Cadmus old,
Why sit ye here as suppliants, in your hands
Branches of olive filleted with wool?
What means this reek of incense everywhere,
And everywhere laments and litanies?
Children, it were not meet that I should learn
From others, and am hither come, myself,
I Oedipus, your world-renowned king.
Ho! aged sire, whose venerable locks
Proclaim thee spokesman of this company,
Explain your mood and purport. Is it dread
Of ill that moves you or a boon ye crave?
My zeal in your behalf ye cannot doubt;
Ruthless indeed were I and obdurate
If such petitioners as you I spurned.

PRIEST Yea, Oedipus, my sovereign lord and king,
Thou seest how both extremes of age besiege
Thy palace altars--fledglings hardly winged,
And greybeards bowed with years, priests, as am I
Of Zeus, and these the flower of our youth.
Meanwhile, the common folk, with wreathed boughs
Crowd our two market-places, or before
Both shrines of Pallas congregate, or where
Ismenus gives his oracles by fire.
For, as thou seest thyself, our ship of State,
Sore buffeted, can no more lift her head,
Foundered beneath a weltering surge of blood.
A blight is on our harvest in the ear,
A blight upon the grazing flocks and herds,
A blight on wives in travail; and withal
Armed with his blazing torch the God of Plague
Hath swooped upon our city emptying
The house of Cadmus, and the murky realm
Of Pluto is full fed with groans and tears.

Therefore, O King, here at thy hearth we sit,
I and these children; not as deeming thee
A new divinity, but the first of men;
First in the common accidents of life,
And first in visitations of the Gods.
Art thou not he who coming to the town
Of Cadmus freed us from the tax we paid
To the fell songstress? Nor hadst thou received
Prompting from us or been by others schooled;
No, by a god inspired (so all men deem,
And testify) didst thou renew our life.
And now, O Oedipus, our peerless king,
All we thy votaries beseech thee, find
Some succor, whether by a voice from heaven
Whispered, or haply known by human wit.
Tried counselors, methinks, are aptest found
To furnish for the future pregnant rede.
Upraise, O chief of men, upraise our State!
Look to thy laurels! for thy zeal of yore
Our country's savior thou art justly hailed:
O never may we thus record thy reign:--
"He raised us up only to cast us down."
Uplift us, build our city on a rock.
Thy happy star ascendant brought us luck,
O let it not decline! If thou wouldst rule
This land, as now thou reignest, better sure
To rule a peopled than a desert realm.
Nor battlements nor galleys aught avail,
If men to man and guards to guard them tail.

OEDIPUS Ah! my poor children, known, ah, known too well,

The quest that brings you hither and your need.
Ye sicken all, well wot I, yet my pain,
How great soever yours, outtops it all.
Your sorrow touches each man severally,
Him and none other, but I grieve at once
Both for the general and myself and you.
Therefore ye rouse no sluggard from day-dreams.
Many, my children, are the tears I've wept,
And threaded many a maze of weary thought.
Thus pondering one clue of hope I caught,
And tracked it up; I have sent Menoeceus' son,
Creon, my consort's brother, to inquire
Of Pythian Phoebus at his Delphic shrine,
How I might save the State by act or word.
And now I reckon up the tale of days
Since he set forth, and marvel how he fares.
'Tis strange, this endless tarrying, passing strange.
But when he comes, then I were base indeed,
If I perform not all the god declares.

PRIEST Thy words are well timed; even as thou speakest
That shouting tells me Creon is at hand.

OEDIPUS O King Apollo! may his joyous looks
Be presage of the joyous news he brings!

PRIEST As I surmise, 'tis welcome; else his head
Had scarce been crowned with berry-laden bays.

OEDIPUS We soon shall know; he's now in earshot range. (Enter CREON.)
My royal cousin, say, Menoeceus' child,
What message hast thou brought us from the god?

CREON Good news, for e'en intolerable ills,
Finding right issue, tend to naught but good.

OEDIPUS How runs the oracle? thus far thy words
Give me no ground for confidence or fear.

CREON If thou wouldst hear my message publicly,
I'll tell thee straight, or with thee pass within.

OEDIPUS Speak before all; the burden that I bear
Is more for these my subjects than myself.

CREON Let me report then all the god declared.
King Phoebus bids us straitly extirpate
A fell pollution that infests the land,
And no more harbor an inveterate sore.

OEDIPUS What expiation means he? What's amiss?

CREON Banishment, or the shedding blood for blood.
This stain of blood makes shipwreck of our state.

OEDIPUS Whom can he mean, the miscreant thus denounced?

CREON Before thou didst assume the helm of State,
The sovereign of this land was Laius.

OEDIPUS I heard as much, but never saw the man.

CREON He fell; and now the god's command is plain:
Punish his takers-off, whoe'er they be.

OEDIPUS Where are they? Where in the wide world to find

The far, faint traces of a bygone crime?

CREON In this land, said the god; "who seeks shall find;

Who sits with folded hands or sleeps is blind."

OEDIPUS Was he within his palace, or afield,
Or traveling, when Laius met his fate?

CREON Abroad; he started, so he told us, bound
For Delphi, but he never thence returned.

OEDIPUS Came there no news, no fellow-traveler
To give some clue that might be followed up?

CREON But one escape, who flying for dear life,
Could tell of all he saw but one thing sure.

OEDIPUS And what was that? One clue might lead us far,
With but a spark of hope to guide our quest.

CREON Robbers, he told us, not one bandit but
A troop of knaves, attacked and murdered him.

OEDIPUS Did any bandit dare so bold a stroke,
Unless indeed he were suborned from Thebes?

CREON So 'twas surmised, but none was found to avenge
His murder mid the trouble that ensued.

OEDIPUS What trouble can have hindered a full quest,
When royalty had fallen thus miserably?

CREON The riddling Sphinx compelled us to let slide
The dim past and attend to instant needs.

OEDIPUS Well, I will start afresh and once again
Make dark things clear. Right worthy the concern
Of Phoebus, worthy thine too, for the dead;
I also, as is meet, will lend my aid
To avenge this wrong to Thebes and to the god.
Not for some far-off kinsman, but myself,
Shall I expel this poison in the blood;
For whoso slew that king might have a mind
To strike me too with his assassin hand.
Therefore in righting him I serve myself.
Up, children, haste ye, quit these altar stairs,
Take hence your suppliant wands, go summon hither
The Theban commons. With the god's good help
Success is sure; 'tis ruin if we fail. (Exeunt OEDIPUS and CREON.)

PRIEST Come, children, let us hence; these gracious words

Forestall the very purpose of our suit.
And may the god who sent this oracle
Save us withal and rid us of this pest. (Exeunt PRIEST and SUPPLIANTS.)

CHORUS (strophe 1)

Sweet-voiced daughter of Zeus from thy gold-paved Pythian shrine

Wafted to Thebes divine,
What dost thou bring me? My soul is racked and shivers with fear.

Healer of Delos, hear!
Hast thou some pain unknown before,
Or with the circling years renewest a penance of yore?
Offspring of golden Hope, thou voice immortal, O tell me.

(antistrophe 1)

First on Athene I call; O Zeus-born goddess, defend!
Goddess and sister, befriend,
Artemis, Lady of Thebes, high-throned in the midst of our mart!

Lord of the death-winged dart!
Your threefold aid I crave
From death and ruin our city to save.
If in the days of old when we nigh had perished, ye drave

From our land the fiery plague, be near us now and defend us!

(strophe 2)

Ah me, what countless woes are mine!
All our host is in decline;
Weaponless my spirit lies.
Earth her gracious fruits denies;
Women wail in barren throes;
Life on life downstriken goes,
Swifter than the wind bird's flight,
Swifter than the Fire-God's might,
To the westering shores of Night.

(antistrophe 2)

Wasted thus by death on death
All our city perisheth.
Corpses spread infection round;
None to tend or mourn is found.
Wailing on the altar stair
Wives and grandams rend the air--
Long-drawn moans and piercing cries
Blent with prayers and litanies.
Golden child of Zeus, O hear
Let thine angel face appear!

(strophe 3)

And grant that Ares whose hot breath I feel,
Though without targe or steel
He stalks, whose voice is as the battle shout,
May turn in sudden rout,
To the unharbored Thracian waters sped,
Or Amphitrite's bed.
For what night leaves undone,
Smit by the morrow's sun
Perisheth. Father Zeus, whose hand
Doth wield the lightning brand,
Slay him beneath thy levin bold, we pray,
Slay him, O slay!

(antistrophe 3)

O that thine arrows too, Lycean King,
From that taut bow's gold string,
Might fly abroad, the champions of our rights;
Yea, and the flashing lights
Of Artemis, wherewith the huntress sweeps
Across the Lycian steeps.
Thee too I call with golden-snooded hair,
Whose name our land doth bear,
Bacchus to whom thy Maenads Evoe shout;
Come with thy bright torch, rout,
Blithe god whom we adore,
The god whom gods abhor. (Enter OEDIPUS.)

OEDIPUS Ye pray; 'tis well, but would ye hear my words
And heed them and apply the remedy,
Ye might perchance find comfort and relief.
Mind you, I speak as one who comes a stranger
To this report, no less than to the crime;
For how unaided could I track it far
Without a clue? Which lacking (for too late
Was I enrolled a citizen of Thebes)
This proclamation I address to all:--
Thebans, if any knows the man by whom
Laius, son of Labdacus, was slain,
I summon him to make clean shrift to me.
And if he shrinks, let him reflect that thus
Confessing he shall 'scape the capital charge;
For the worst penalty that shall befall him
Is banishment--unscathed he shall depart.
But if an alien from a foreign land
Be known to any as the murderer,
Let him who knows speak out, and he shall have
Due recompense from me and thanks to boot.
But if ye still keep silence, if through fear
For self or friends ye disregard my hest,
Hear what I then resolve; I lay my ban
On the assassin whosoe'er he be.
Let no man in this land, whereof I hold
The sovereign rule, harbor or speak to him;
Give him no part in prayer or sacrifice
Or lustral rites, but hound him from your homes.
For this is our defilement, so the god
Hath lately shown to me by oracles.
Thus as their champion I maintain the cause
Both of the god and of the murdered King.
And on the murderer this curse I lay
(On him and all the partners in his guilt):--
Wretch, may he pine in utter wretchedness!
And for myself, if with my privity
He gain admittance to my hearth, I pray
The curse I laid on others fall on me.
See that ye give effect to all my hest,
For my sake and the god's and for our land,
A desert blasted by the wrath of heaven.
For, let alone the god's express command,
It were a scandal ye should leave unpurged
The murder of a great man and your king,
Nor track it home. And now that I am lord,
Successor to his throne, his bed, his wife,
(And had he not been frustrate in the hope
Of issue, common children of one womb
Had forced a closer bond twixt him and me,
But Fate swooped down upon him), therefore I
His blood-avenger will maintain his cause
As though he were my sire, and leave no stone
Unturned to track the assassin or avenge
The son of Labdacus, of Polydore,
Of Cadmus, and Agenor first of the race.
And for the disobedient thus I pray:
May the gods send them neither timely fruits
Of earth, nor teeming increase of the womb,
But may they waste and pine, as now they waste,
Aye and worse stricken; but to all of you,
My loyal subjects who approve my acts,
May Justice, our ally, and all the gods
Be gracious and attend you evermore.

CHORUS The oath thou profferest, sire, I take and swear.

I slew him not myself, nor can I name
The slayer. For the quest, 'twere well, methinks
That Phoebus, who proposed the riddle, himself
Should give the answer--who the murderer was.

OEDIPUS Well argued; but no living man can hope
To force the gods to speak against their will.

CHORUS May I then say what seems next best to me?

OEDIPUS Aye, if there be a third best, tell it too.

CHORUS My liege, if any man sees eye to eye
With our lord Phoebus, 'tis our prophet, lord
Teiresias; he of all men best might guide
A searcher of this matter to the light.

OEDIPUS Here too my zeal has nothing lagged, for twice
At Creon's instance have I sent to fetch him,
And long I marvel why he is not here.

CHORUS I mind me too of rumors long ago--
Mere gossip.

OEDIPUS Tell them, I would fain know all.

CHORUS 'Twas said he fell by travelers.

OEDIPUS So I heard,
But none has seen the man who saw him fall.

CHORUS Well, if he knows what fear is, he will quail
And flee before the terror of thy curse.

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,

And think'st forsooth as seer to go scot free.

TEIRESIAS Yea, I am free, strong in the strength of truth.

OEDIPUS Who was thy teacher? not methinks thy art.

TEIRESIAS Thou, goading me against my will to speak.

OEDIPUS What speech? repeat it and resolve my doubt.

TEIRESIAS Didst miss my sense wouldst thou goad me on?

OEDIPUS I but half caught thy meaning; say it again.

TEIRESIAS I say thou art the murderer of the man
Whose murderer thou pursuest.

OEDIPUS Thou shalt rue it
Twice to repeat so gross a calumny.

TEIRESIAS Must I say more to aggravate thy rage?

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OEDIPUS Say all thou wilt; it will be but waste of breath.

TEIRESIAS I say thou livest with thy nearest kin
In infamy, unwitting in thy shame.

OEDIPUS Think'st thou for aye unscathed to wag thy tongue?

TEIRESIAS Yea, if the might of truth can aught prevail.

OEDIPUS With other men, but not with thee, for thou
In ear, wit, eye, in everything art blind.

TEIRESIAS Poor fool to utter gibes at me which all
Here present will cast back on thee ere long.

OEDIPUS Offspring of endless Night, thou hast no power
O'er me or any man who sees the sun.

TEIRESIAS No, for thy weird is not to fall by me.
I leave to Apollo what concerns the god.

OEDIPUS Is this a plot of Creon, or thine own?

TEIRESIAS Not Creon, thou thyself art thine own bane.

OEDIPUS O wealth and empiry and skill by skill
Outwitted in the battlefield of life,
What spite and envy follow in your train!
See, for this crown the State conferred on me.
A gift, a thing I sought not, for this crown
The trusty Creon, my familiar friend,
Hath lain in wait to oust me and suborned
This mountebank, this juggling charlatan,
This tricksy beggar-priest, for gain alone
Keen-eyed, but in his proper art stone-blind.
Say, sirrah, hast thou ever proved thyself
A prophet? When the riddling Sphinx was here
Why hadst thou no deliverance for this folk?
And yet the riddle was not to be solved
By guess-work but required the prophet's art;
Wherein thou wast found lacking; neither birds
Nor sign from heaven helped thee, but I came,
The simple Oedipus; I stopped her mouth
By mother wit, untaught of auguries.
This is the man whom thou wouldst undermine,
In hope to reign with Creon in my stead.
Methinks that thou and thine abettor soon
Will rue your plot to drive the scapegoat out.
Thank thy grey hairs that thou hast still to learn
What chastisement such arrogance deserves.

CHORUS To us it seems that both the seer and thou,
O Oedipus, have spoken angry words.
This is no time to wrangle but consult
How best we may fulfill the oracle.

TEIRESIAS King as thou art, free speech at least is mine

To make reply; in this I am thy peer.
I own no lord but Loxias; him I serve
And ne'er can stand enrolled as Creon's man.
Thus then I answer: since thou hast not spared
To twit me with my blindness--thou hast eyes,
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.

(antistrophe 1)

Yea, but now flashed forth the summons from Parnassus' snowy peak,

"Near and far the undiscovered doer of this murder seek!"

Now like a sullen bull he roves
Through forest brakes and upland groves,
And vainly seeks to fly
The doom that ever nigh
Flits o'er his head,
Still by the avenging Phoebus sped,
The voice divine,
From Earth's mid shrine.

(strophe 2)

Sore perplexed am I by the words of the master seer.
Are they true, are they false? I know not and bridle my tongue for
fear,
Fluttered with vague surmise; nor present nor future is clear.

Quarrel of ancient date or in days still near know I none

Twixt the Labdacidan house and our ruler, Polybus' son.
Proof is there none: how then can I challenge our King's good name,

How in a blood-feud join for an untracked deed of shame?

(antistrophe 2)

All wise are Zeus and Apollo, and nothing is hid from their ken;

They are gods; and in wits a man may surpass his fellow men;

But that a mortal seer knows more than I know--where
Hath this been proven? Or how without sign assured, can I blame

Him who saved our State when the winged songstress came,

Tested and tried in the light of us all, like gold assayed?

How can I now assent when a crime is on Oedipus laid?

CREON Friends, countrymen, I learn King Oedipus
Hath laid against me a most grievous charge,
And come to you protesting. If he deems
That I have harmed or injured him in aught
By word or deed in this our present trouble,
I care not to prolong the span of life,
Thus ill-reputed; for the calumny
Hits not a single blot, but blasts my name,
If by the general voice I am denounced
False to the State and false by you my friends.

CHORUS This taunt, it well may be, was blurted out
In petulance, not spoken advisedly.

CREON Did any dare pretend that it was I
Prompted the seer to utter a forged charge?

CHORUS Such things were said; with what intent I know not.

CREON Were not his wits and vision all astray
When upon me he fixed this monstrous charge?

CHORUS I know not; to my sovereign's acts I am blind.
But lo, he comes to answer for himself. (Enter OEDIPUS.)

OEDIPUS Sirrah, what mak'st thou here? Dost thou presume

To approach my doors, thou brazen-faced rogue,
My murderer and the filcher of my crown?
Come, answer this, didst thou detect in me
Some touch of cowardice or witlessness,
That made thee undertake this enterprise?
I seemed forsooth too simple to perceive
The serpent stealing on me in the dark,
Or else too weak to scotch it when I saw.
This thou art witless seeking to possess
Without a following or friends the crown,
A prize that followers and wealth must win.

CREON Attend me. Thou hast spoken, 'tis my turn
To make reply. Then having heard me, judge.

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,
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.

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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!

(strophe 2)

Witness, thou Sun, such thought was never mine,
Unblest, unfriended may I perish,
If ever I such wish did cherish!
But O my heart is desolate
Musing on our striken State,
Doubly fall'n should discord grow
Twixt you twain, to crown our woe.

OEDIPUS Well, let him go, no matter what it cost me,
Or certain death or shameful banishment,
For your sake I relent, not his; and him,
Where'er he be, my heart shall still abhor.

CREON Thou art as sullen in thy yielding mood
As in thine anger thou wast truculent.
Such tempers justly plague themselves the most.

OEDIPUS Leave me in peace and get thee gone.

CREON I go,
By thee misjudged, but justified by these. (Exeunt CREON.)

CHORUS (antistrophe 1)

Lady, lead indoors thy consort; wherefore longer here delay?

JOCASTA Tell me first how rose the fray.

CHORUS Rumors bred unjust suspicious and injustice rankles sore.

JOCASTA Were both at fault?

CHORUS Both.

JOCASTA What was the tale?

CHORUS Ask me no more. The land is sore distressed; 'Twere better
sleeping ills to leave at rest.

OEDIPUS Strange counsel, friend! I know thou mean'st me well,

And yet would'st mitigate and blunt my zeal.

CHORUS (antistrophe 2)

King, I say it once again,
Witless were I proved, insane,
If I lightly put away
Thee my country's prop and stay,
Pilot who, in danger sought,
To a quiet haven brought
Our distracted State; and now
Who can guide us right but thou?

JOCASTA Let me too, I adjure thee, know, O king,
What cause has stirred this unrelenting wrath.

OEDIPUS I will, for thou art more to me than these.
Lady, the cause is Creon and his plots.

JOCASTA But what provoked the quarrel? make this clear.

OEDIPUS He points me out as Laius' murderer.

JOCASTA Of his own knowledge or upon report?

OEDIPUS He is too cunning to commit himself,
And makes a mouthpiece of a knavish seer.

JOCASTA Then thou mayest ease thy conscience on that score.

Listen and I'll convince thee that no man
Hath scot or lot in the prophetic art.
Here is the proof in brief. An oracle
Once came to Laius (I will not say
'Twas from the Delphic god himself, but from
His ministers) declaring he was doomed
To perish by the hand of his own son,
A child that should be born to him by me.
Now Laius--so at least report affirmed--
Was murdered on a day by highwaymen,
No natives, at a spot where three roads meet.
As for the child, it was but three days old,
When Laius, its ankles pierced and pinned
Together, gave it to be cast away
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,
Yet scarce deserving all the heat it stirred.
A roisterer at some banquet, flown with wine,
Shouted "Thou art not true son of thy sire."
It irked me, but I stomached for the nonce
The insult; on the morrow I sought out
My mother and my sire and questioned them.
They were indignant at the random slur
Cast on my parentage and did their best
To comfort me, but still the venomed barb
Rankled, for still the scandal spread and grew.
So privily without their leave I went
To Delphi, and Apollo sent me back
Baulked of the knowledge that I came to seek.
But other grievous things he prophesied,
Woes, lamentations, mourning, portents dire;
To wit I should defile my mother's bed
And raise up seed too loathsome to behold,
And slay the father from whose loins I sprang.
Then, lady,--thou shalt hear the very truth--
As I drew near the triple-branching roads,
A herald met me and a man who sat
In a car drawn by colts--as in thy tale--
The man in front and the old man himself
Threatened to thrust me rudely from the path,
Then jostled by the charioteer in wrath
I struck him, and the old man, seeing this,
Watched till I passed and from his car brought down
Full on my head the double-pointed goad.
Yet was I quits with him and more; one stroke
Of my good staff sufficed to fling him clean
Out of the chariot seat and laid him prone.
And so I slew them every one. But if
Betwixt this stranger there was aught in common
With Laius, who more miserable than I,
What mortal could you find more god-abhorred?
Wretch whom no sojourner, no citizen
May harbor or address, whom all are bound
To harry from their homes. And this same curse
Was laid on me, and laid by none but me.
Yea with these hands all gory I pollute
The bed of him I slew. Say, am I vile?
Am I not utterly unclean, a wretch
Doomed to be banished, and in banishment
Forgo the sight of all my dearest ones,
And never tread again my native earth;
Or else to wed my mother and slay my sire,
Polybus, who begat me and upreared?
If one should say, this is the handiwork
Of some inhuman power, who could blame
His judgment? But, ye pure and awful gods,
Forbid, forbid that I should see that day!
May I be blotted out from living men
Ere such a plague spot set on me its brand!

CHORUS We too, O king, are troubled; but till thou
Hast questioned the survivor, still hope on.

OEDIPUS My hope is faint, but still enough survives
To bid me bide the coming of this herd.

JOCASTA Suppose him here, what wouldst thou learn of him?

OEDIPUS I'll tell thee, lady; if his tale agrees
With thine, I shall have 'scaped calamity.

JOCASTA And what of special import did I say?

OEDIPUS In thy report of what the herdsman said
Laius was slain by robbers; now if he
Still speaks of robbers, not a robber, I
Slew him not; "one" with "many" cannot square.
But if he says one lonely wayfarer,
The last link wanting to my guilt is forged.

JOCASTA Well, rest assured, his tale ran thus at first,

Nor can he now retract what then he said;
Not I alone but all our townsfolk heard it.
E'en should he vary somewhat in his story,
He cannot make the death of Laius
In any wise jump with the oracle.
For Loxias said expressly he was doomed
To die by my child's hand, but he, poor babe,
He shed no blood, but perished first himself.
So much for divination. Henceforth I
Will look for signs neither to right nor left.

OEDIPUS Thou reasonest well. Still I would have thee send

And fetch the bondsman hither. See to it.

JOCASTA That will I straightway. Come, let us within.
I would do nothing that my lord mislikes. (Exeunt OEDIPUS and JOCASTA.)

CHORUS (strophe 1)

My lot be still to lead
The life of innocence and fly
Irreverence in word or deed,
To follow still those laws ordained on high
Whose birthplace is the bright ethereal sky
No mortal birth they own,
Olympus their progenitor alone:
Ne'er shall they slumber in oblivion cold,
The god in them is strong and grows not old.

(antistrophe 1)

Of insolence is bred
The tyrant; insolence full blown,
With empty riches surfeited,
Scales the precipitous height and grasps the throne.
Then topples o'er and lies in ruin prone;
No foothold on that dizzy steep.
But O may Heaven the true patriot keep
Who burns with emulous zeal to serve the State.
God is my help and hope, on him I wait.

(strophe 2)

But the proud sinner, or in word or deed,
That will not Justice heed,
Nor reverence the shrine
Of images divine,
Perdition seize his vain imaginings,
If, urged by greed profane,
He grasps at ill-got gain,
And lays an impious hand on holiest things.
Who when such deeds are done
Can hope heaven's bolts to shun?
If sin like this to honor can aspire,
Why dance I still and lead the sacred choir?

(antistrophe 2)

No more I'll seek earth's central oracle,
Or Abae's hallowed cell,
Nor to Olympia bring
My votive offering.
If before all God's truth be not bade plain.
O Zeus, reveal thy might,
King, if thou'rt named aright
Omnipotent, all-seeing, as of old;
For Laius is forgot;
His weird, men heed it not;
Apollo is forsook and faith grows cold. (Enter JOCASTA.)

JOCASTA My lords, ye look amazed to see your queen
With wreaths and gifts of incense in her hands.
I had a mind to visit the high shrines,
For Oedipus is overwrought, alarmed
With terrors manifold. He will not use
His past experience, like a man of sense,
To judge the present need, but lends an ear
To any croaker if he augurs ill.
Since then my counsels naught avail, I turn
To thee, our present help in time of trouble,
Apollo, Lord Lycean, and to thee
My prayers and supplications here I bring.
Lighten us, lord, and cleanse us from this curse!
For now we all are cowed like mariners
Who see their helmsman dumbstruck in the storm. (Enter Corinthian
MESSENGER.)

MESSENGER My masters, tell me where the palace is
Of Oedipus; or better, where's the king.

CHORUS Here is the palace and he bides within;
This is his queen the mother of his children.

MESSENGER All happiness attend her and the house,
Blessed is her husband and her marriage-bed.

JOCASTA My greetings to thee, stranger; thy fair words
Deserve a like response. But tell me why
Thou comest--what thy need or what thy news.

MESSENGER Good for thy consort and the royal house.

JOCASTA What may it be? Whose messenger art thou?

MESSENGER The Isthmian commons have resolved to make
Thy husband king--so 'twas reported there.

JOCASTA What! is not aged Polybus still king?

MESSENGER No, verily; he's dead and in his grave.

JOCASTA What! is he dead, the sire of Oedipus?

MESSENGER If I speak falsely, may I die myself.

JOCASTA Quick, maiden, bear these tidings to my lord.
Ye god-sent oracles, where stand ye now!
This is the man whom Oedipus long shunned,
In dread to prove his murderer; and now
He dies in nature's course, not by his hand. (Enter OEDIPUS.)

OEDIPUS My wife, my queen, Jocasta, why hast thou
Summoned me from my palace?

JOCASTA Hear this man,
And as thou hearest judge what has become
Of all those awe-inspiring oracles.

OEDIPUS Who is this man, and what his news for me?

JOCASTA He comes from Corinth and his message this:
Thy father Polybus hath passed away.

OEDIPUS What? let me have it, stranger, from thy mouth.

MESSENGER If I must first make plain beyond a doubt
My message, know that Polybus is dead.

OEDIPUS By treachery, or by sickness visited?

MESSENGER One touch will send an old man to his rest.

OEDIPUS So of some malady he died, poor man.

MESSENGER Yes, having measured the full span of years.

OEDIPUS Out on it, lady! why should one regard
The Pythian hearth or birds that scream i' the air?
Did they not point at me as doomed to slay
My father? but he's dead and in his grave
And here am I who ne'er unsheathed a sword;
Unless the longing for his absent son
Killed him and so I slew him in a sense.
But, as they stand, the oracles are dead--
Dust, ashes, nothing, dead as Polybus.

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JOCASTA Say, did not I foretell this long ago?

OEDIPUS Thou didst: but I was misled by my fear.

JOCASTA Then let I no more weigh upon thy soul.

OEDIPUS Must I not fear my mother's marriage bed.

JOCASTA Why should a mortal man, the sport of chance,
With no assured foreknowledge, be afraid?
Best live a careless life from hand to mouth.
This wedlock with thy mother fear not thou.
How oft it chances that in dreams a man
Has wed his mother! He who least regards
Such brainsick phantasies lives most at ease.

OEDIPUS I should have shared in full thy confidence,
Were not my mother living; since she lives
Though half convinced I still must live in dread.

JOCASTA And yet thy sire's death lights out darkness much.

OEDIPUS Much, but my fear is touching her who lives.

MESSENGER Who may this woman be whom thus you fear?

OEDIPUS Merope, stranger, wife of Polybus.

MESSENGER And what of her can cause you any fear?

OEDIPUS A heaven-sent oracle of dread import.

MESSENGER A mystery, or may a stranger hear it?

OEDIPUS Aye, 'tis no secret. Loxias once foretold
That I should mate with mine own mother, and shed
With my own hands the blood of my own sire.
Hence Corinth was for many a year to me
A home distant; and I trove abroad,
But missed the sweetest sight, my parents' face.

MESSENGER Was this the fear that exiled thee from home?

OEDIPUS Yea, and the dread of slaying my own sire.

MESSENGER Why, since I came to give thee pleasure, King,

Have I not rid thee of this second fear?

OEDIPUS Well, thou shalt have due guerdon for thy pains.

MESSENGER Well, I confess what chiefly made me come
Was hope to profit by thy coming home.

OEDIPUS Nay, I will ne'er go near my parents more.

MESSENGER My son, 'tis plain, thou know'st not what thou doest.

OEDIPUS How so, old man? For heaven's sake tell me all.

MESSENGER If this is why thou dreadest to return.

OEDIPUS Yea, lest the god's word be fulfilled in me.

MESSENGER Lest through thy parents thou shouldst be accursed?

OEDIPUS This and none other is my constant dread.

MESSENGER Dost thou not know thy fears are baseless all?

OEDIPUS How baseless, if I am their very son?

MESSENGER Since Polybus was naught to thee in blood.

OEDIPUS What say'st thou? was not Polybus my sire?

MESSENGER As much thy sire as I am, and no more.

OEDIPUS My sire no more to me than one who is naught?

MESSENGER Since I begat thee not, no more did he.

OEDIPUS What reason had he then to call me son?

MESSENGER Know that he took thee from my hands, a gift.

OEDIPUS Yet, if no child of his, he loved me well.

MESSENGER A childless man till then, he warmed to thee.

OEDIPUS A foundling or a purchased slave, this child?

MESSENGER I found thee in Cithaeron's wooded glens.

OEDIPUS What led thee to explore those upland glades?

MESSENGER My business was to tend the mountain flocks.

OEDIPUS A vagrant shepherd journeying for hire?

MESSENGER True, but thy savior in that hour, my son.

OEDIPUS My savior? from what harm? what ailed me then?

MESSENGER Those ankle joints are evidence enow.

OEDIPUS Ah, why remind me of that ancient sore?

MESSENGER I loosed the pin that riveted thy feet.

OEDIPUS Yes, from my cradle that dread brand I bore.

MESSENGER Whence thou deriv'st the name that still is thine.

OEDIPUS Who did it? I adjure thee, tell me who
Say, was it father, mother?

MESSENGER I know not.
The man from whom I had thee may know more.

OEDIPUS What, did another find me, not thyself?

MESSENGER Not I; another shepherd gave thee me.

OEDIPUS Who was he? Would'st thou know again the man?

MESSENGER He passed indeed for one of Laius' house.

OEDIPUS The king who ruled the country long ago?

MESSENGER The same: he was a herdsman of the king.

OEDIPUS And is he living still for me to see him?

MESSENGER His fellow-countrymen should best know that.

OEDIPUS Doth any bystander among you know
The herd he speaks of, or by seeing him
Afield or in the city? answer straight!
The hour hath come to clear this business up.

CHORUS Methinks he means none other than the hind
Whom thou anon wert fain to see; but that
Our queen Jocasta best of all could tell.

OEDIPUS Madam, dost know the man we sent to fetch?
Is the same of whom the stranger speaks?

JOCASTA Who is the man? What matter? Let it be.
'Twere waste of thought to weigh such idle words.

OEDIPUS No, with such guiding clues I cannot fail
To bring to light the secret of my birth.

JOCASTA Oh, as thou carest for thy life, give o'er
This quest. Enough the anguish I endure.

OEDIPUS Be of good cheer; though I be proved the son
Of a bondwoman, aye, through three descents
Triply a slave, thy honor is unsmirched.

JOCASTA Yet humor me, I pray thee; do not this.

OEDIPUS I cannot; I must probe this matter home.

JOCASTA 'Tis for thy sake I advise thee for the best.

OEDIPUS I grow impatient of this best advice.

JOCASTA Ah mayst thou ne'er discover who thou art!

OEDIPUS Go, fetch me here the herd, and leave yon woman

To glory in her pride of ancestry.

JOCASTA O woe is thee, poor wretch! With that last word

I leave thee, henceforth silent evermore. (Exit JOCASTA.)

CHORUS Why, Oedipus, why stung with passionate grief
Hath the queen thus departed? Much I fear
From this dead calm will burst a storm of woes.

OEDIPUS Let the storm burst, my fixed resolve still holds,

To learn my lineage, be it ne'er so low.
It may be she with all a woman's pride
Thinks scorn of my base parentage. But I
Who rank myself as Fortune's favorite child,
The giver of good gifts, shall not be shamed.
She is my mother and the changing moons
My brethren, and with them I wax and wane.
Thus sprung why should I fear to trace my birth?
Nothing can make me other than I am.

CHORUS (strophe)

If my soul prophetic err not, if my wisdom aught avail,

Thee, Cithaeron, I shall hail,
As the nurse and foster-mother of our Oedipus shall greet

Ere tomorrow's full moon rises, and exalt thee as is meet.

Dance and song shall hymn thy praises, lover of our royal race.

Phoebus, may my words find grace!

(antistrophe)

Child, who bare thee, nymph or goddess? sure thy sure was more than
man,
Haply the hill-roamer Pan.
Of did Loxias beget thee, for he haunts the upland wold;

Or Cyllene's lord, or Bacchus, dweller on the hilltops cold?

Did some Heliconian Oread give him thee, a new-born joy?

Nymphs with whom he love to toy?

OEDIPUS Elders, if I, who never yet before
Have met the man, may make a guess, methinks
I see the herdsman who we long have sought;
His time-worn aspect matches with the years
Of yonder aged messenger; besides
I seem to recognize the men who bring him
As servants of my own. But you, perchance,
Having in past days known or seen the herd,
May better by sure knowledge my surmise.

CHORUS I recognize him; one of Laius' house;
A simple hind, but true as any man. (Enter HERDSMAN.)

OEDIPUS Corinthian, stranger, I address thee first,
Is this the man thou meanest!

MESSENGER This is he.

OEDIPUS And now old man, look up and answer all
I ask thee. Wast thou once of Laius' house?

HERDSMAN I was, a thrall, not purchased but home-bred.

OEDIPUS What was thy business? how wast thou employed?

HERDSMAN The best part of my life I tended sheep.

OEDIPUS What were the pastures thou didst most frequent?

HERDSMAN Cithaeron and the neighboring alps.

OEDIPUS Then there
Thou must have known yon man, at least by fame?

HERDSMAN Yon man? in what way? what man dost thou mean?

OEDIPUS The man here, having met him in past times...

HERDSMAN Off-hand I cannot call him well to mind.

MESSENGER No wonder, master. But I will revive
His blunted memories. Sure he can recall
What time together both we drove our flocks,
He two, I one, on the Cithaeron range,
For three long summers; I his mate from spring
Till rose Arcturus; then in winter time
I led mine home, he his to Laius' folds.
Did these things happen as I say, or no?

HERDSMAN 'Tis long ago, but all thou say'st is true.

MESSENGER Well, thou mast then remember giving me
A child to rear as my own foster-son?

HERDSMAN Why dost thou ask this question? What of that?

MESSENGER Friend, he that stands before thee was that child.

HERDSMAN A plague upon thee! Hold thy wanton tongue!

OEDIPUS Softly, old man, rebuke him not; thy words
Are more deserving chastisement than his.

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HERDSMAN O best of masters, what is my offense?

OEDIPUS Not answering what he asks about the child.

HERDSMAN He speaks at random, babbles like a fool.

OEDIPUS If thou lack'st grace to speak, I'll loose thy tongue.

HERDSMAN For mercy's sake abuse not an old man.

OEDIPUS Arrest the villain, seize and pinion him!

HERDSMAN Alack, alack!
What have I done? what wouldst thou further learn?

OEDIPUS Didst give this man the child of whom he asks?

HERDSMAN I did; and would that I had died that day!

OEDIPUS And die thou shalt unless thou tell the truth.

HERDSMAN But, if I tell it, I am doubly lost.

OEDIPUS The knave methinks will still prevaricate.

HERDSMAN Nay, I confessed I gave it long ago.

OEDIPUS Whence came it? was it thine, or given to thee?

HERDSMAN I had it from another, 'twas not mine.

OEDIPUS From whom of these our townsmen, and what house?

HERDSMAN Forbear for God's sake, master, ask no more.

OEDIPUS If I must question thee again, thou'rt lost.

HERDSMAN Well then--it was a child of Laius' house.

OEDIPUS Slave-born or one of Laius' own race?

HERDSMAN Ah me!
I stand upon the perilous edge of speech.

OEDIPUS And I of hearing, but I still must hear.

HERDSMAN Know then the child was by repute his own,
But she within, thy consort best could tell.

OEDIPUS What! she, she gave it thee?

HERDSMAN 'Tis so, my king.

OEDIPUS With what intent?

HERDSMAN To make away with it.

OEDIPUS What, she its mother.

HERDSMAN Fearing a dread weird.

OEDIPUS What weird?

HERDSMAN 'Twas told that he should slay his sire.

OEDIPUS What didst thou give it then to this old man?

HERDSMAN Through pity, master, for the babe. I thought
He'd take it to the country whence he came;
But he preserved it for the worst of woes.
For if thou art in sooth what this man saith,
God pity thee! thou wast to misery born.

OEDIPUS Ah me! ah me! all brought to pass, all true!
O light, may I behold thee nevermore!
I stand a wretch, in birth, in wedlock cursed,
A parricide, incestuously, triply cursed! (Exit OEDIPUS.)

CHORUS (strophe 1)

Races of mortal man
Whose life is but a span,
I count ye but the shadow of a shade!
For he who most doth know
Of bliss, hath but the show;
A moment, and the visions pale and fade.
Thy fall, O Oedipus, thy piteous fall
Warns me none born of women blest to call.

(antistrophe 1)

For he of marksmen best,
O Zeus, outshot the rest,
And won the prize supreme of wealth and power.
By him the vulture maid
Was quelled, her witchery laid;
He rose our savior and the land's strong tower.
We hailed thee king and from that day adored
Of mighty Thebes the universal lord.

(strophe 2)

O heavy hand of fate!
Who now more desolate,
Whose tale more sad than thine, whose lot more dire?
O Oedipus, discrowned head,
Thy cradle was thy marriage bed;
One harborage sufficed for son and sire.
How could the soil thy father eared so long
Endure to bear in silence such a wrong?

(antistrophe 2)

All-seeing Time hath caught
Guilt, and to justice brought
The son and sire commingled in one bed.
O child of Laius' ill-starred race
Would I had ne'er beheld thy face;
I raise for thee a dirge as o'er the dead.
Yet, sooth to say, through thee I drew new breath,
And now through thee I feel a second death. (Enter SECOND MESSENGER.)

SECOND MESSENGER Most grave and reverend senators of Thebes,

What Deeds ye soon must hear, what sights behold
How will ye mourn, if, true-born patriots,
Ye reverence still the race of Labdacus!
Not Ister nor all Phasis' flood, I ween,
Could wash away the blood-stains from this house,
The ills it shrouds or soon will bring to light,
Ills wrought of malice, not unwittingly.
The worst to bear are self-inflicted wounds.

CHORUS Grievous enough for all our tears and groans
Our past calamities; what canst thou add?

SECOND MESSENGER My tale is quickly told and quickly heard.

Our sovereign lady queen Jocasta's dead.

CHORUS Alas, poor queen! how came she by her death?

SECOND MESSENGER By her own hand. And all the horror of it,

Not having seen, yet cannot comprehend.
Nathless, as far as my poor memory serves,
I will relate the unhappy lady's woe.
When in her frenzy she had passed inside
The vestibule, she hurried straight to win
The bridal-chamber, clutching at her hair
With both her hands, and, once within the room,
She shut the doors behind her with a crash.
"Laius," she cried, and called her husband dead
Long, long ago; her thought was of that child
By him begot, the son by whom the sire
Was murdered and the mother left to breed
With her own seed, a monstrous progeny.
Then she bewailed the marriage bed whereon
Poor wretch, she had conceived a double brood,
Husband by husband, children by her child.
What happened after that I cannot tell,
Nor how the end befell, for with a shriek
Burst on us Oedipus; all eyes were fixed
On Oedipus, as up and down he strode,
Nor could we mark her agony to the end.
For stalking to and fro "A sword!" he cried,
"Where is the wife, no wife, the teeming womb
That bore a double harvest, me and mine?"
And in his frenzy some supernal power
(No mortal, surely, none of us who watched him)
Guided his footsteps; with a terrible shriek,
As though one beckoned him, he crashed against
The folding doors, and from their staples forced
The wrenched bolts and hurled himself within.
Then we beheld the woman hanging there,
A running noose entwined about her neck.
But when he saw her, with a maddened roar
He loosed the cord; and when her wretched corpse
Lay stretched on earth, what followed--O 'twas dread!
He tore the golden brooches that upheld
Her queenly robes, upraised them high and smote
Full on his eye-balls, uttering words like these:
"No more shall ye behold such sights of woe,
Deeds I have suffered and myself have wrought;
Henceforward quenched in darkness shall ye see
Those ye should ne'er have seen; now blind to those
Whom, when I saw, I vainly yearned to know."
Such was the burden of his moan, whereto,
Not once but oft, he struck with his hand uplift
His eyes, and at each stroke the ensanguined orbs
Bedewed his beard, not oozing drop by drop,
But one black gory downpour, thick as hail.
Such evils, issuing from the double source,
Have whelmed them both, confounding man and wife.
Till now the storied fortune of this house
Was fortunate indeed; but from this day
Woe, lamentation, ruin, death, disgrace,
All ills that can be named, all, all are theirs.

CHORUS But hath he still no respite from his pain?

SECOND MESSENGER He cries, "Unbar the doors and let all Thebes

Behold the slayer of his sire, his mother's--"
That shameful word my lips may not repeat.
He vows to fly self-banished from the land,
Nor stay to bring upon his house the curse
Himself had uttered; but he has no strength
Nor one to guide him, and his torture's more
Than man can suffer, as yourselves will see.
For lo, the palace portals are unbarred,
And soon ye shall behold a sight so sad
That he who must abhorred would pity it. (Enter OEDIPUS blinded.)

CHORUS Woeful sight! more woeful none
These sad eyes have looked upon.
Whence this madness? None can tell
Who did cast on thee his spell, prowling all thy life around,

Leaping with a demon bound.
Hapless wretch! how can I brook
On thy misery to look?
Though to gaze on thee I yearn,
Much to question, much to learn,
Horror-struck away I turn.

OEDIPUS Ah me! ah woe is me!
Ah whither am I borne!
How like a ghost forlorn
My voice flits from me on the air!
On, on the demon goads. The end, ah where?

CHORUS An end too dread to tell, too dark to see.

OEDIPUS (strophe 1)

Dark, dark! The horror of darkness, like a shroud,
Wraps me and bears me on through mist and cloud.
Ah me, ah me! What spasms athwart me shoot,
What pangs of agonizing memory?

CHORUS No marvel if in such a plight thou feel'st
The double weight of past and present woes.

OEDIPUS (antistrophe 1)

Ah friend, still loyal, constant still and kind,
Thou carest for the blind.
I know thee near, and though bereft of eyes,
Thy voice I recognize.

CHORUS O doer of dread deeds, how couldst thou mar
Thy vision thus? What demon goaded thee?

OEDIPUS (strophe 2)

Apollo, friend, Apollo, he it was
That brought these ills to pass;
But the right hand that dealt the blow
Was mine, none other. How,
How, could I longer see when sight
Brought no delight?

CHORUS Alas! 'tis as thou sayest.

OEDIPUS Say, friends, can any look or voice
Or touch of love henceforth my heart rejoice?
Haste, friends, no fond delay,
Take the twice cursed away
Far from all ken,
The man abhorred of gods, accursed of men.

CHORUS O thy despair well suits thy desperate case.
Would I had never looked upon thy face!

OEDIPUS (antistrophe 2)

My curse on him whoe'er unrived
The waif's fell fetters and my life revived!
He meant me well, yet had he left me there,
He had saved my friends and me a world of care.

CHORUS I too had wished it so.

OEDIPUS Then had I never come to shed
My father's blood nor climbed my mother's bed;
The monstrous offspring of a womb defiled,
Co-mate of him who gendered me, and child.
Was ever man before afflicted thus,
Like Oedipus.

CHORUS I cannot say that thou hast counseled well,
For thou wert better dead than living blind.

OEDIPUS What's done was well done. Thou canst never shake

My firm belief. A truce to argument.
For, had I sight, I know not with what eyes
I could have met my father in the shades,
Or my poor mother, since against the twain
I sinned, a sin no gallows could atone.
Aye, but, ye say, the sight of children joys
A parent's eyes. What, born as mine were born?
No, such a sight could never bring me joy;
Nor this fair city with its battlements,
Its temples and the statues of its gods,
Sights from which I, now wretchedst of all,
Once ranked the foremost Theban in all Thebes,
By my own sentence am cut off, condemned
By my own proclamation 'gainst the wretch,
The miscreant by heaven itself declared
Unclean--and of the race of Laius.
Thus branded as a felon by myself,
How had I dared to look you in the face?
Nay, had I known a way to choke the springs
Of hearing, I had never shrunk to make
A dungeon of this miserable frame,
Cut off from sight and hearing; for 'tis bliss to bide in regions
sorrow cannot reach.
Why didst thou harbor me, Cithaeron, why
Didst thou not take and slay me? Then I never
Had shown to men the secret of my birth.
O Polybus, O Corinth, O my home,
Home of my ancestors (so wast thou called)
How fair a nursling then I seemed, how foul
The canker that lay festering in the bud!
Now is the blight revealed of root and fruit.
Ye triple high-roads, and thou hidden glen,
Coppice, and pass where meet the three-branched ways,
Ye drank my blood, the life-blood these hands spilt,
My father's; do ye call to mind perchance
Those deeds of mine ye witnessed and the work
I wrought thereafter when I came to Thebes?
O fatal wedlock, thou didst give me birth,
And, having borne me, sowed again my seed,
Mingling the blood of fathers, brothers, children,
Brides, wives and mothers, an incestuous brood,
All horrors that are wrought beneath the sun,
Horrors so foul to name them were unmeet.
O, I adjure you, hide me anywhere
Far from this land, or slay me straight, or cast me
Down to the depths of ocean out of sight.
Come hither, deign to touch an abject wretch;
Draw near and fear not; I myself must bear
The load of guilt that none but I can share. (Enter CREON.)

CREON Lo, here is Creon, the one man to grant
Thy prayer by action or advice, for he
Is left the State's sole guardian in thy stead.

OEDIPUS Ah me! what words to accost him can I find?
What cause has he to trust me? In the past
I have bee proved his rancorous enemy.

CREON Not in derision, Oedipus, I come
Nor to upbraid thee with thy past misdeeds. (To BYSTANDERS.) But
shame upon you! if ye feel no sense
Of human decencies, at least revere
The Sun whose light beholds and nurtures all.
Leave not thus nakedly for all to gaze at
A horror neither earth nor rain from heaven
Nor light will suffer. Lead him straight within,
For it is seemly that a kinsman's woes
Be heard by kin and seen by kin alone.

OEDIPUS O listen, since thy presence comes to me
A shock of glad surprise--so noble thou,
And I so vile--O grant me one small boon.
I ask it not on my behalf, but thine.

CREON And what the favor thou wouldst crave of me?

OEDIPUS Forth from thy borders thrust me with all speed;

Set me within some vasty desert where
No mortal voice shall greet me any more.

CREON This had I done already, but I deemed
It first behooved me to consult the god.

OEDIPUS His will was set forth fully--to destroy
The parricide, the scoundrel; and I am he.

CREON Yea, so he spake, but in our present plight
'Twere better to consult the god anew.

OEDIPUS Dare ye inquire concerning such a wretch?

CREON Yea, for thyself wouldst credit now his word.

OEDIPUS Aye, and on thee in all humility
I lay this charge: let her who lies within
Receive such burial as thou shalt ordain;
Such rites 'tis thine, as brother, to perform.
But for myself, O never let my Thebes,
The city of my sires, be doomed to bear
The burden of my presence while I live.
No, let me be a dweller on the hills,
On yonder mount Cithaeron, famed as mine,
My tomb predestined for me by my sire
And mother, while they lived, that I may die
Slain as they sought to slay me, when alive.
This much I know full surely, nor disease
Shall end my days, nor any common chance;
For I had ne'er been snatched from death, unless
I was predestined to some awful doom.
So be it. I reck not how Fate deals with me
But my unhappy children--for my sons
Be not concerned, O Creon, they are men,
And for themselves, where'er they be, can fend.
But for my daughters twain, poor innocent maids,
Who ever sat beside me at the board
Sharing my viands, drinking of my cup,
For them, I pray thee, care, and, if thou willst,
O might I feel their touch and make my moan.
Hear me, O prince, my noble-hearted prince!
Could I but blindly touch them with my hands
I'd think they still were mine, as when I saw. (ANTIGONE and ISMENE
are led in.) What say I? can it be my pretty ones
Whose sobs I hear? Has Creon pitied me
And sent me my two darlings? Can this be?

CREON 'Tis true; 'twas I procured thee this delight,
Knowing the joy they were to thee of old.

OEDIPUS God speed thee! and as meed for bringing them
May Providence deal with thee kindlier
Than it has dealt with me! O children mine,
Where are ye? Let me clasp you with these hands,
A brother's hands, a father's; hands that made
Lack-luster sockets of his once bright eyes;
Hands of a man who blindly, recklessly,
Became your sire by her from whom he sprang.
Though I cannot behold you, I must weep
In thinking of the evil days to come,
The slights and wrongs that men will put upon you.
Where'er ye go to feast or festival,
No merrymaking will it prove for you,
But oft abashed in tears ye will return.
And when ye come to marriageable years,
Where's the bold wooers who will jeopardize
To take unto himself such disrepute
As to my children's children still must cling,
For what of infamy is lacking here?
"Their father slew his father, sowed the seed
Where he himself was gendered, and begat
These maidens at the source wherefrom he sprang."
Such are the gibes that men will cast at you.
Who then will wed you? None, I ween, but ye
Must pine, poor maids, in single barrenness.
O Prince, Menoeceus' son, to thee, I turn,
With the it rests to father them, for we
Their natural parents, both of us, are lost.
O leave them not to wander poor, unwed,
Thy kin, nor let them share my low estate.
O pity them so young, and but for thee
All destitute. Thy hand upon it, Prince.
To you, my children I had much to say,
Were ye but ripe to hear. Let this suffice:
Pray ye may find some home and live content,
And may your lot prove happier than your sire's.

CREON Thou hast had enough of weeping; pass within.

OEDIPUS I must obey,
Though 'tis grievous.

CREON Weep not, everything must have its day.

OEDIPUS Well I go, but on conditions.

CREON What thy terms for going, say.

OEDIPUS Send me from the land an exile.

CREON Ask this of the gods, not me.

OEDIPUS But I am the gods' abhorrence.

CREON Then they soon will grant thy plea.

OEDIPUS Lead me hence, then, I am willing.

CREON Come, but let thy children go.

OEDIPUS Rob me not of these my children!

CREON Crave not mastery in all,
For the mastery that raised thee was thy bane and wrought thy fall.

CHORUS Look ye, countrymen and Thebans, this is Oedipus the great,

He who knew the Sphinx's riddle and was mightiest in our state.

Who of all our townsmen gazed not on his fame with envious eyes?

Now, in what a sea of troubles sunk and overwhelmed he lies!

Therefore wait to see life's ending ere thou count one mortal blest;

Wait till free from pain and sorrow he has gained his final rest.

THE END

----------------------------------------------------------------------

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