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- Specimens of Greek Tragedy - 20/44 -


Thou dost reprove my heart, yet near thine own Is something that the censor wots not of.

OEDIPUS.

Whose wrath would not be kindled when he heard Language so hateful to a patriot's ear?

TIRESIAS.

Even if I keep silence, it must come.

OEDIPUS.

That which must come why not disclose to me?

TIRESIAS.

I will speak no word more; then, if thou wilt, Freely give vent to thy most savage wrath.

OEDIPUS.

Freely my anger shall give utterance To what I think: I think that in thy mind This murder was engendered, was thy act Save the mere blow, and hadst thou not been blind, I should have deemed thee the sole murderer.

TIRESIAS.

Ha! Then I call upon thee to be true To thy own proclamation, and henceforth Abstain from intercourse with these or me, As he that brings on us the curse of blood.

OEDIPUS.

Hast thou the impudence such calumny To vent, and dream'st thou of impunity?

TIRESIAS.

I fear thee not; truth's power is on my side.

OEDIPUS.

Whence did it come to thee? not from thy art.

TIRESIAS.

From thee that made me speak against my will.

OEDIPUS.

Speak how? Repeat thy words that I may know.

TIRESIAS.

Didst thou not understand or tempt'st thou me?

OEDIPUS.

Fully I did not. Say it once again.

TIRESIAS.

I say the murderer whom thou seek'st is thou.

OEDIPUS.

Unpunished twice thy slanders shall not go.

TIRESIAS.

Shall I say more, further to fire thy wrath?

OEDIPUS.

All that thou wilt; 'twill be of none effect.

TIRESIAS.

I say that thou dost with thy next of kin Foully consort, not knowing where thou art.

OEDIPUS.

And think'st thou still unscathed to say these things?

TIRESIAS.

I do, if there is any strength in truth.

OEDIPUS.

In truth is strength, but that strength is not thine; Thou in eyes, ears, and mind alike art blind.

TIRESIAS.

And thou art wretched, casting in my teeth What all men presently will cast in thine.

OEDIPUS.

Thy lot is utter darkness; neither I Nor any one who sees, can fear thy wrath.

TIRESIAS.

Not mine is chastisement; Apollo's might Sufficient is, and will bring all to pass.

OEDIPUS.

Is this contrivance Creon's or thine own?

TIRESIAS.

Thyself, not Creon, is thy enemy.

OEDIPUS.

O wealth, O sovereignty, O art of arts That givest victory in the race of life, How are ye still by envious malice dogged! This place of power, which now I hold, by me Unsought, was by the city's will bestowed. Yet the thrice-loyal Creon, my fast friend, Seeks now to oust me by foul practices, Using for tool this knavish soothsayer, This lying mountebank, whose greedy palm Has eyes, while in his science he is blind. Show me the proofs of thy prophetic gift. Why, when the riddling Sphinx was here, didst thou Fail by thy skill to save the commonwealth? The riddle was not such as all can read, But gave thy art fair opportunity, Yet neither inspiration served thee then, Nor omens, but I, skilless Oedipus, Out of my ignorance confounded her, By my own wit, unhelped by auguries; I, whom thou now conspirest to depose, Hoping that thou wilt stand by Creon's throne. These pious efforts, trust me, will be rued By thee and him that sets thee on; thy years Are thy defence from instant chastisement.

CHORUS.

To us, Lord Oedipus, alike thy word And the seer's seem the utterance of your wrath. Wrath here is out of place, what we would seek Is a right reading of the oracle.

TIRESIAS

High is thy throne, yet must thou stoop so low As to endure free speech; that power is mine. I to my god am servant, not to thee, And therefore, ask not Creon's patronage. I tell thee who with blindness tauntest me, Sight though thou hast thou seest not what thou art, Nor where thou hast been dwelling, nor with whom. Know'st thou thy birth? No, nor that thou art loathed By thine own kin, the living and the dead. One day thy sire's and mother's awful curse, With double scourge, will whip thee from this land. Dark then shall be those eyes which now are light, And with thy cries what place shall not resound, What glen of wide Cithaeron shall not ring, As soon as thou dost learn into what port Of marriage swelling sails have wafted thee? Much is in store beside to bring thee down Unto thy children's level and thy own. Then trample upon Creon and my gift Of prophecy. Of all mankind is none Whom ruin more complete awaits than thee.

OEDIPUS.

Who can endure this caitiff's insolence? Go to perdition on the instant; pack, And of thy presence let this house be rid.

TIRESIAS.

I had not come except at thy command.

OEDIPUS.

I knew not then what folly thou would'st talk, Else should I scarce have called thee to my house.

TIRESIAS.

Such it appears in thy conceit, am I, A fool; yet to thy parents I seemed wise.


Specimens of Greek Tragedy - 20/44

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