CREON

Back!

CHORUS

Not till thou forbear.

CREON

‘Tis war with Thebes if I am touched or harmed.

OEDIPUS

Did I not warn thee?

CHORUS

Quick, unhand the maid!

CREON

Command your minions; I am not your slave.

CHORUS

Desist, I bid thee.

CREON to the guard

And O bid thee march!

CHORUS

To the rescue, one and all! 
Rally, neighbors to my call! 
See, the foe is at the gate! 
Rally to defend the State.

ANTIGONE

Ah, woe is me, they drag me hence, O friends.

OEDIPUS

Where art thou, daughter?

ANTIGONE

Haled along by force.

OEDIPUS

Thy hands, my child!

ANTIGONE

They will not let me, father.

CREON

Away with her!

OEDIPUS

Ah, woe is me, ah woe!

CREON

So those two crutches shall no longer serve thee 
For further roaming. Since it pleaseth thee 
To triumph o’er thy country and thy friends 
Who mandate, though a prince, I here discharge, 
Enjoy thy triumph; soon or late thou’lt find 
Thou art an enemy to thyself, both now 
And in time past, when in despite of friends 
Thou gav’st the rein to passion, still thy bane.

CHORUS

Hold there, sir stranger!

CREON

Hands off, have a care.

CHORUS

Restore the maidens, else thou goest not.

CREON

Then Thebes will take a dearer surety soon; 
I will lay hands on more than these two maids.

CHORUS

What canst thou further?

CREON

Carry off this man.

CHORUS

Brave words!

CREON

And deeds forthwith shall make them good.

CHORUS

Unless perchance our sovereign intervene.

OEDIPUS

O shameless voice! Would’st lay an hand on me?

CREON

Silence, I bid thee!

OEDIPUS

Goddesses, allow 
Thy suppliant to utter yet one curse! 
Wretch, now my eyes are gone thou hast torn away 
The helpless maiden who was eyes to me; 
For these to thee and all thy cursed race 
May the great Sun, whose eye is everywhere, 
Grant length of days and old age like to mine.

CREON

Listen, O men of Athens, mark ye this?

OEDIPUS

They mark us both and understand that I 
Wronged by the deeds defend myself with words.

CREON

Nothing shall curb my will; though I be old 
And single-handed, I will have this man.

OEDIPUS

O woe is me!

CHORUS

Thou art a bold man, stranger, if thou think’st 
To execute thy purpose.

CREON

So I do.

CHORUS

Then shall I deem this State no more a State.

CREON

With a just quarrel weakness conquers might.

OEDIPUS

Ye hear his words?

CHORUS

Aye words, but not yet deeds, 
Zeus knoweth!

CREON

Zeus may haply know, not thou.

CHORUS

Insolence!

CREON

Insolence that thou must bear.

CHORUS

Haste ye princes, sound the alarm! 
Men of Athens, arm ye, arm! 
Quickly to the rescue come 
Ere the robbers get them home.

Enter THESEUS


THESEUS

Why this outcry? What is forward? wherefore was I called away 
From the altar of Poseidon, lord of your Colonus? Say! 
On what errand have I hurried hither without stop or stay.

OEDIPUS

Dear friend–those accents tell me who thou art– 
Yon man but now hath done me a foul wrong.

THESEUS

What is this wrong and who hath wrought it? Speak.

OEDIPUS

Creon who stands before thee. He it is 
Hath robbed me of my all, my daughters twain.

THESEUS

What means this?

OEDIPUS

Thou hast heard my tale of wrongs.

THESEUS

Ho! hasten to the altars, one of you. 
Command my liegemen leave the sacrifice 
And hurry, foot and horse, with rein unchecked, 
To where the paths that packmen use diverge, 
Lest the two maidens slip away, and I 
Become a mockery to this my guest, 
As one despoiled by force. Quick, as I bid. 
As for this stranger, had I let my rage, 
Justly provoked, have play, he had not ‘scaped 
Scathless and uncorrected at my hands. 
But now the laws to which himself appealed, 
These and none others shall adjudicate. 
Thou shalt not quit this land, till thou hast fetched 
The maidens and produced them in my sight. 
Thou hast offended both against myself 
And thine own race and country. Having come 
Unto a State that champions right and asks 
For every action warranty of law, 
Thou hast set aside the custom of the land, 
And like some freebooter art carrying off 
What plunder pleases thee, as if forsooth 
Thou thoughtest this a city without men, 
Or manned by slaves, and me a thing of naught. 
Yet not from Thebes this villainy was learnt; 
Thebes is not wont to breed unrighteous sons, 
Nor would she praise thee, if she learnt that thou 
Wert robbing me–aye and the gods to boot, 
Haling by force their suppliants, poor maids. 
Were I on Theban soil, to prosecute 
The justest claim imaginable, I 
Would never wrest by violence my own 
Without sanction of your State or King; 
I should behave as fits an outlander 
Living amongst a foreign folk, but thou 
Shamest a city that deserves it not, 
Even thine own, and plentitude of years 
Have made of thee an old man and a fool. 
Therefore again I charge thee as before, 
See that the maidens are restored at once, 
Unless thou would’st continue here by force 
And not by choice a sojourner; so much 
I tell thee home and what I say, I mean.

CHORUS

Thy case is perilous; though by birth and race 
Thou should’st be just, thou plainly doest wrong.

CREON

Not deeming this city void of men 
Or counsel, son of Aegeus, as thou say’st 
I did what I have done; rather I thought 
Your people were not like to set such store by kin of mine and keep them ‘gainst my will. 
Nor would they harbor, so I stood assured, 
A godless parricide, a reprobate 
Convicted of incestuous marriage ties. 
For on her native hill of Ares here 
(I knew your far-famed Areopagus) 
Sits Justice, and permits not vagrant folk 
To stay within your borders. In that faith 
I hunted down my quarry; and e’en then i had refrained but for the curses dire 
Wherewith he banned my kinsfolk and myself: 
Such wrong, methought, had warrant for my act. 
Anger has no old age but only death; 
The dead alone can feel no touch of spite. 
So thou must work thy will; my cause is just 
But weak without allies; yet will I try, 
Old as I am, to answer deeds with deeds.

Oedipus at Colonus