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النشر الإلكتروني

For his ill-starred wantoning,
Should he heap unrighteous gains,
Nor fronı unhallowed paths withhold his feet,
Or reach rash hands to pluck forbidden fruit.
Who shall do this, and boast
That yet his soul is proof
Against the arrows of offended Heaven?
If honor crown such deeds as these,
Not song, but silence, then for me!
To earth's dread centre, unprofaned (Antistrophe 2.]
By mortal touch,
No more with awe will I repair,
Nor Abae's shrine,
Nor the Olmpian plain,
If the truth stands not confessed,
Pointed at by all the world.
O Zeus supreme, if rightly thou art called-
Lord over all—let not these things escape
Thee and thy timeless sway!
For now men set at naught
Apollo's word, and cry, “Behold, it fails !"
His praise is darkened with a doubt;
And faith is sapped, and Heaven defied.

Jocasta, in her distress of mind, goes to worship at the nearest religious altar. But a messenger arrives from Corinth with news of the death of King Polybus, the reputed father of Edipus. Jocasta is overjoyed. She hurries off an attendant to summon Edipus. Edipus, hearing the news, exclaims :

Ah! my Jocasta, who again will heed
The Pythian hearth oracular, and birds
Screaming in air, blind guides! that would have made
My father's death my deed ; but he is gone,
Hidden underneath the ground, while I stand here
Harmless and weaponless :-unless, perchance,
My absence killed him,-so he may have died
Through me.

But be that as it may, the grave
That covers Polybus from sight, hath closed
One voice of prophecy, worth nothing now.

We are to imagine the keenly anguished pleasure with which Greek spectators would receive this temporary relief to Edipus--knowing as they do within themselves that it is a mere suspension of the inevitable catastrophe, an exquisitely tantalizing prolongation, provided for them by the poet, of the tense emotion proper to the tragic spectacle of a man vainly and unconsciously struggling, or anon ceasing to struggle, like a captured fly, in the cruel spider's-web of fate. But Edipus shudders with a chill of fear amid the very glow of his joy. His Corinthian mother, widow of King Polybus, survives, and he dreads the fulfillment of the oracle respecting his crime of incest with her. To remove this fear, the messenger from Corinth explains that Edipus was not true son to Polybus and his Corinthian queenthat he was to them merely an adopted son.

Whose true son, then, was he? But this the Corinthian messenger cannot reveal. Another man must be called, he, namely, who placed Edipus, a babe, in this informant's hands. But now let the dialogue, thus in part anticipated, proceed in the words of Sophocles:

Ed. Another gave me, then? You did not find me?
Mess. Another herdsman passed thee on to me.

Ed. Can you describe him? Tell us what you know.
Mess. He was called one of Laius' people, sure.

Ed. Of Laius once the sovereign of this land ?
Mess. Yea, surely, he was the shepherd of his flock.

Ed. And is he still alive for me to see?
Mess. You Thebans are most likely to know that.
Ed. Speak, any one of you in presence here,

Can you point out the swain he tells us of,
In town or country having known of him ?

The time for this discovery is full come.
Ch. Methinks it is no other than the peasant

Whom thou didst seek before to see: but this

Could best be told by Queen Jocasta there.
El. We lately sought that one should come, my queen.

Know'st thou, is this of whom he speaks the same ?

7o. What matter who? Regard not, nor desire

Even vainly to remember aught he saith.
(Ed. When I have found such tokens of my birth,

I must disclose it.

As you love your life,
By heaven I beg you, search no further here !

The sickness in my bosom is enough.
Ed. Nay, never fear. Were I proved thrice a slave

And waif of bondwomen, you still are noble.
Jo. Yet hearken, I implore you : do not so.
Ed. I cannot hear you. I must know this through.
Jo. With clear perception I advise the best.
Ed. This “ best advice” is ever mine annoy.
70. Wretched one, never may you


Ed. Will some one go and fetch the herdman hither ?

Leave her to revel in her lordly line !
7o. O horrible! O lost one! This alone

I speak to thee, and no word more forever. (Exit.]
Ch. Edipus, wherefore is Jocasta gone,

Driven madly by wild grief? needs must fear

Lest from this silence she make sorrow spring.
Ed. Leave her to raise what storm she will. But I

Will persevere to know mine origin,
Though from an humble seed. Her woman's pride
Is shamed, it may be, by my lowliness.
But I, whilst I account myself the son
of prospering Fortune, ne'er will be disgraced.
For She is my true mother : and the months
Coheirs with me of the same father, Time,
Have marked my lowness and mine exaltation.
So born, so nurtured, I can fear no change,

That I need shrink to search this to the end. [@dipus remains, and gazes toward the country, while the chorus sing.)

This choric song we omit.

Enters the Theban shepherd expected by the king. The Corinthian messenger and the just-arrived shepherd are mutually confronted and asked to identify each other. The old Theban hesitates, but the Corinthian refreshes his memory. The messenger from Corinth, pointing to Edipus, then says :

Mess. Friend, yonder is the infant whom we knew.
Theb. Sh. Confusion seize thee, and thy evil tongue !
Ed. Check not his speech, I pray thee, for thy words

Call more than his for chastisement, old sir.
Theb. Sh. O my dread lord, wherein do I offend ?

Ed. Thou wilt not answer him about the child.
Theb. Sh. He knows not what he speaks. His end is vain.
Ed. So! Thou'lt not tell to please us, but the lash

Will make thee tell.
Theb. Sh.

By all that's merciful
Scourge not this aged frame !

Pinion him straight !
Theb. Sh. Unhappy! wherefore ? what is't you would know?

Ed. Gave you the child he asks of to this man ?
Theb. Sh. I gave it him. Would I had died that hour !

Ed. Speak rightly, or your wish will soon come true.
Theb. Sh. My ruin coines the sooner, if I speak.

Ed. You mean to keep us in suspense, I see.
Theb. Sh. Not so. I said long since, “I gave the child."

Ed. Whence? Was't your own, or from another's hand ?
Theb. Sh. 'Twas not mine own; another gave it me.

Ed. What Theban gave it, from what home in Thebes ?
Theb. Sh. O, I implore thee, master, ask no more !

Ed. You perish, if I have to ask again.
Theb. Sh. The child was of the stock of Laius.

Ed. Slave-born, or rightly of the royal line ?
Theb. Sh. Ah, me! Now comes the horror to my tongue !

Ed. And to mine ear. But thou shalt tell it me!
Theb. Sh. He was described as Laius' son : but she,

Thy queen, within the palace, best should know.
Ed. How ? Did she give it thee?
Theb. Sh.

My lord, she did.
Ed. With what commission ?
Theb. Sh.

I was to destroy him.
Ed. How could a mother's heart be steeled to this?
Theb. Sh. With fear of evil prophecies.

What were they ?
Theb. Sh. 'Twas said the child should be his father's death.

Ed. What then possessed thee to give up the child

To this old man?
Theb. Sh.

Pity, my sovereign lord !
Supposing he would take him far

Unto the land whence he was come. But he
Preserved him to great sorrow.

For if thou
Art he this man hath said, be well assured

Thou bear'st a heavy doom.

O horrible!
Horrible! All is known, as sunlight clear !

may I nevermore behold the day, Since proved accursèd in my parentage, In those I live with, and in him I slew !

The solemn chorus of Theban elders take up now their music, and chant, in mournful recitative, the lesson of what they have seen, as follows :


O tribes of living men,
How nothing-worth I count you while ye stand !

For who of all the train
Draws more of happiness into his hand
Than to seem bright, and, seeming, fade in gloom ?
O, Edipus, by thine all-hapless doom

Too clearly 'tis expressed

Naught in mortality is blest.
Thou that surpassing all in skill

With perfect aim didst kill
The crook-clawed minstrel as a tower
Saving my land from death's dark power,
And winning for thyself the name
Of Thebé's king, and noblest fame,

Thou, thou, art fallen at last
To misery unsurpassed.
Who, in life's dark reverse,

Like thee hath felt the curse
Of destiny, the assault of boundless pain ?

O Edipus renowned,
Who in one haven found
Harbor for son and sire

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