CHORUS

antistrophe 1

Wast thou then sightless from thy birth? 
Evil, methinks, and long 
Thy pilgrimage on earth. 
Yet add not curse to curse and wrong to wrong. 
I warn thee, trespass not 
Within this hallowed spot, 
Lest thou shouldst find the silent grassy glade 
Where offerings are laid, 
Bowls of spring water mingled with sweet mead. 
Thou must not stay, 
Come, come away, 
Tired wanderer, dost thou heed? 
(We are far off, but sure our voice can reach.) 
If aught thou wouldst beseech, 
Speak where ’tis right; till then refrain from speech.

OEDIPUS

Daughter, what counsel should we now pursue?

ANTIGONE

We must obey and do as here they do.

OEDIPUS

Thy hand then!

ANTIGONE

Here, O father, is my hand,

OEDIPUS

O Sirs, if I come forth at your command, 
Let me not suffer for my confidence.

CHORUS

strophe 2

Against thy will no man shall drive thee hence.

OEDIPUS

Shall I go further?

CHORUS

Aye.

OEDIPUS

What further still?

CHORUS

Lead maiden, thou canst guide him where we will.

ANTIGONE

Follow with blind steps, father, as I lead.

CHORUS

In a strange land strange thou art; 
To her will incline thy heart; 
Honor whatso’er the State 
Honors, all she frowns on hate.

OEDIPUS

Guide me child, where we may range 
Safe within the paths of right; 
Counsel freely may exchange 
Nor with fate and fortune fight.

CHORUS

antistrophe 2

Halt! Go no further than that rocky floor.

OEDIPUS

Stay where I now am?

CHORUS

Yes, advance no more.

OEDIPUS

May I sit down?

CHORUS

Move sideways towards the ledge, 
And sit thee crouching on the scarped edge.

ANTIGONE

This is my office, father, O incline–

OEDIPUS

Ah me! ah me!

ANTIGONE

Thy steps to my steps, lean thine aged frame on mine.

OEDIPUS

Woe on my fate unblest!

CHORUS

Wanderer, now thou art at rest, 
Tell me of thy birth and home, 
From what far country art thou come, 
Led on thy weary way, declare!

OEDIPUS

Strangers, I have no country. O forbear–

CHORUS

What is it, old man, that thou wouldst conceal?

OEDIPUS

Forbear, nor urge me further to reveal–

CHORUS

Why this reluctance?

OEDIPUS

Dread my lineage.

CHORUS

Say!

OEDIPUS

What must I answer, child, ah welladay!

CHORUS

Say of what stock thou comest, what man’s son–

OEDIPUS

Ah me, my daughter, now we are undone!

ANTIGONE

Speak, for thou standest on the slippery verge.

OEDIPUS

I will; no plea for silence can I urge.

CHORUS

Will neither speak? Come, Sir, why dally thus!

OEDIPUS

Know’st one of Laius’–

CHORUS

Ha? Who!

OEDIPUS

Seed of Labdacus–

CHORUS

Oh Zeus!

OEDIPUS

The hapless Oedipus.

CHORUS

Art he?

OEDIPUS

Whate’er I utter, have no fear of me.

CHORUS

Begone!

OEDIPUS

O wretched me!

CHORUS

Begone!

OEDIPUS

O daughter, what will hap anon?

CHORUS

Forth from our borders speed ye both!

OEDIPUS

How keep you then your troth?

CHORUS

Heaven’s justice never smites 
Him who ill with ill requites. 
But if guile with guile contend, 
Bane, not blessing, is the end. 
Arise, begone and take thee hence straightway, 
Lest on our land a heavier curse thou lay.

ANTIGONE

O sirs! ye suffered not my father blind, 
Albeit gracious and to ruth inclined, 
Knowing the deeds he wrought, not innocent, 
But with no ill intent; 
Yet heed a maiden’s moan 
Who pleads for him alone; 

My eyes, not reft of sight, 
Plead with you as a daughter’s might 
You are our providence, 
O make us not go hence! 
O with a gracious nod 
Grant us the nigh despaired-of boon we crave? 

Hear us, O hear, 
But all that ye hold dear, 
Wife, children, homestead, hearth and God! 
Where will you find one, search ye ne’er so well. 
Who ‘scapes perdition if a god impel!

CHORUS

Surely we pity thee and him alike 
Daughter of Oedipus, for your distress; 
But as we reverence the decrees of Heaven 
We cannot say aught other than we said.

OEDIPUS

O what avails renown or fair repute? 
Are they not vanity? For, look you, now 
Athens is held of States the most devout, 
Athens alone gives hospitality 
And shelters the vexed stranger, so men say. 
Have I found so? I whom ye dislodged 
First from my seat of rock and now would drive 
Forth from your land, dreading my name alone; 
For me you surely dread not, nor my deeds, 
Deeds of a man more sinned against than sinning, 
As I might well convince you, were it meet 
To tell my mother’s story and my sire’s, 
The cause of this your fear. Yet am I then 
A villain born because in self-defense, 
Striken, I struck the striker back again? 
E’en had I known, no villainy ‘twould prove: 
But all unwitting whither I went, I went– 
To ruin; my destroyers knew it well, 
Wherefore, I pray you, sirs, in Heaven’s name, 
Even as ye bade me quit my seat, defend me. 
O pay not a lip service to the gods 
And wrong them of their dues. Bethink ye well, 
The eye of Heaven beholds the just of men, 
And the unjust, nor ever in this world 
Has one sole godless sinner found escape. 
Stand then on Heaven’s side and never blot 
Athens’ fair scutcheon by abetting wrong. 
I came to you a suppliant, and you pledged 
Your honor; O preserve me to the end, 
O let not this marred visage do me wrong! 
A holy and god-fearing man is here 
Whose coming purports comfort for your folk. 
And when your chief arrives, whoe’er he be, 
Then shall ye have my story and know all. 
Meanwhile I pray you do me no despite.

CHORUS

The plea thou urgest, needs must give us pause, 
Set forth in weighty argument, but we 
Must leave the issue with the ruling powers.

OEDIPUS

Where is he, strangers, he who sways the realm?

CHORUS

In his ancestral seat; a messenger, 
The same who sent us here, is gone for him.

OEDIPUS

And think you he will have such care or thought 
For the blind stranger as to come himself?

CHORUS

Aye, that he will, when once he learns thy name.

OEDIPUS

But who will bear him word!

CHORUS

The way is long, 
And many travelers pass to speed the news. 
Be sure he’ll hear and hasten, never fear; 
So wide and far thy name is noised abroad, 
That, were he ne’er so spent and loth to move, 
He would bestir him when he hears of thee.

Oedipus at Colonus