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(Turn C.) Cre.

Ay me! ay me!
The fears I'm possess'd with!

Why comes there none
To strike deep my breast with

Two-edged blade?

O the miserable one!
With anguish to anguish

My bones are brayed !

Mes. Ay, for the guilt of this and that blood shed

Were you impeached by her that now is sped. Cre. After what bloody sort did she depart? Mes. Her stab went suicidal home to the heart,

When she had word of him piteously dead.

(Turn D.)
Ay me! ne'er on other

Name, midst mankind,
The burdens that smother

Me, shall they bind.
'Twas I, I that slew thee

(O cruel case !);
Confest, I did undo thee!

Oh, forth the place
Remove, hurry me, loving

Hands, forth convey !
Say ne'er He's as nothing—

He is not, say!

L. of Cho. Counsel of gain--if gain's here any more :

Least is the best of troubles at the door.

(Counter-turn C.) Cre.

Draw nigh, anigh!
Approach doom supremest,

So dear and great
Beyond all thou seemest ;

Lead on with thee
Unambiguous fate!
And these eyes no longer

Sunlight shall see.

L. of Cho. That's yet to come : we've here enough to

In hand. The rest may lie where lie it must.
Cre. On that I doat, (141) which all my prayer exprest.
L. of Cho. Then pray no more! Man gets, as Fate

likes best,
A lot; and stays perforce thereof possest.

(Counter-turn D.)
Cre. Away, forth convey the

Rash fool, away!
I ne'er meant to slay thee,

Child, I did slay.
And her too! I slew them!

O cruel case !
I've no heart to view them ;

No resting-place.
To wry ends abhorred

Swerves all I touch :
And Doom round my forehead,

Swooped, keeps his clutch.

Finale (in march measure)
Che. Wisdom's a great way first in the making

Of a happy estate! No duty to God
Leave unacquitted. Great boasts breaking
From presumptuous men, for reward taking

Great stripes of the rod,
Bring a fool in his age to th' awaking.

[Exeunt omnes. COMMENTARY


1 The suppliant carried a branch tufted with flocks of wool, and laid it upon the altar or altarsteps. So to deposit your branch' was a synonym for to come with a suppliant's petition (Demosthenes, de Corona). The successful suppliant removed his branch. ? i.e. thank-offering from such as have escaped the plague. 3 Others interpret the Greek word by 'acquiescence.' 41.e. a public deputation. 5 Known respectively as Athena Oncaia and Athena Ismenia. 6 Altar of Apollo on the bank of the Ismenus, where divination by fire was practised. 71.e. the Plague of Fever personified. 8 « Perhaps at these words the actor prostrates himself at the King's feet" (Scholiast). 9“We see that men of experience have more success by their flukes than the inexperienced and theoretical men," says Aristotle (Metaph. 981a 14). The Chorus Leader is flattering dipus' favourite weakness—conceit in his own mother-wit. 10 Imitated in Ap. Rhod. Argon. ii. 633. 11 See Aristoph. Plutus, 21. 12 Creon equivocates because the first word spoken by a newcomer, especially on a solemn occasion, is an omen: a bad word might bring bad luck. 13 For the improbability of Edipus' ignorance, see Jebb's Introd.


14 A very fine example of the “Sophoclean irony. Edipus has heard only a moment before that it was robbers,' yet by a slip of the tongue he uses the singular ; and the audience thinks of him. 15 Already a suspicion of Creon's complicity.


So the Greek, literally; but, in fact, the ceremony was an asperging with a brand dipped in holy water (cf. Eur. Hercules, 922). 17 The Scholiast calls this particular example of Sophoclean irony rather sensational than in keeping with the grand manner,' and thinks it worthier of Euripides than Sophocles. 18 An intentional equivoque : the Greek phrase conveys either " your wife,or “your temper.19 The abruptness of this question betrays a suspicion long entertained. 20 See Philoctetes, 138. 21 Properly an itinerant minister of the orgiastic worship of the Great Mother (Cybele), introduced from Asia and already strong in popular favour. 22 The Sphinx. Kúwv is used with great freedom in metaphor, e.g. of eagles (Aesch.), of harpies (Ap. Rhod.), of the god Pan (Pindar). Balladmonger, because she had installed herself in the public place of Thebes like a rhapsode come to recite. slave or resident alien, who might not defend themselves in person, but must be represented by their master or patron.

24 Apollo, son of Zeus. 25 For the bull as the type of surly moping, see Jebb's examples. 26 I have not rendered the two slightly different measures in these stanzas (change from chorjambics to ionics) : both express the agitating debate in the mind of the Chorus between the authority of Edipus and that of Teiresias. They conclude by ranging themselves provisionally with the King in his distrust of prophets, therein typifying the agnostic intellectuals

23 i.e, not a

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