Oedipus: I would have it beyond all doubt. He vehemently denies Oedipus's charge of treason, saying that his life is easier without having the burden of leadership. Listen, my wife: This is the truth. Did some Heliconian Oread give him thee, a new-born joy? Shepherd: Damn you, man, hold your tongue! The first strophe-antistrophe pair recounts everything that has happened in the plot since the last ode. Creon: In your own eyes, not in mine. If my soul prophetic err not, if my wisdom aught avail, Thee, Cithaeron, I shall hail, As the nurse and foster-mother of our Oedipus shall greet Ere tomorrow's full moon rises, and exalt thee as is meet.
Mean- while the blind wanderer and his faithful daughter came in their journeyings to the hamlet of Colonus, within a mile of the city of Athens, over which King Theseus ruled. Death would have been a boon To me and all of mine. Has Creon had pity, and sent them to me? Enter Jocasta from the Palace. And then I slew them all. The shepherd was the same man Oedipus has already sent for—the eyewitness to Laius's murder.
Messenger: This is the man. O light, may I behold thee nevermore! But the girls, poor little mites, Have never known a meal without their father; Everything was shared between us. Creon: Said with unflinching eye was it? He makes his life very public and discloses much of his personal information throughout the play with the Theben people. So then Apollo brought it not to pass The child should be his father's murderer, Or the dread terror find accomplishment, And Laius be slain by his own son. Notice that the modern translator has used the Roman name for this God instead of the Greek name. Many, my children, are the tears I've wept, And threaded many a maze of weary thought.
Has Creon pitied me And sent me my two darlings? But I will revive His blunted memories. Messenger: All idle, sir; your fears are groundless, vain. As for the child, it was but three days old, When Laius, its ankles pierced and pinned Together, gave it to be cast away By others on the trackless mountain side. I would have you dead, not banished. What has shocked and startled thee? Good news to thee, and to thy husband, lady. Thank thy grey hairs that thou hast still to learn What chastisement such arrogance deserves. New York: Zone Books, 1990.
For I can tell you, No man possesses the secret of divination. The gods curse all that disobey this charge! And you, the rest, the men from Cadmus sprung, To whom these words approve themselves as good, May righteousness befriend you, and the Gods, In full accord, dwell with you evermore. Things new, or old as the circling year? Jocasta begs Oedipus to abandon his search for his origins, but Oedipus insists he must know the story of his birth. The hour hath come to clear this business up. And now that I am lord, Successor to his throne, his bed, his wife, And had he not been frustrate in the hope Of issue, common children of one womb Had forced a closer bond twixt him and me, But Fate swooped down upon him , therefore I His blood-avenger will maintain his cause As though he were my sire, and leave no stone Unturned to track the assassin or avenge The son of Labdacus, of Polydore, Of Cadmus, and Agenor first of the race. The attendant goes Where are you now, divine prognostications! Lord of the death-winged dart! To you, my children I had much to say, Were ye but ripe to hear. Seest thou, with all thy purposes of good, Thy shifting and thy soothing, what thou dost? Creon: We had a king, sir, before you came to lead us.
And other ills, in countless multitude, Thou seest not yet, on thee and on thy seed Shall fall alike. But know, the thing was said, and clearly said, And now he cannot from his word draw back. However, when he hears of the plague that's tormenting his people, he decides to see it for himself. Thy frown I dread not, for thou canst not harm me. Oedipus: Clearer, alas, too clear! Is it dread Of ill that moves you or a boon ye crave? Therefore wait to see life's ending ere thou count one mortal blest; Wait till free from pain and sorrow he has gained his final rest.
Oedipus realizes that he has fulfilled his awful prophecy. Hear, then, thou golden daughter of great Zeus, And send us help, bright-faced as is the morn. Jocasta: How was it his? Oedipus: Go, someone; fetch the shepherd. O children mine, Where are ye? Let him depart, then, even though I die, Or from my country wander forth in shame: Thy face, not his, I view with pitying eye; For him, whereer he be, is naught but hate. In one sense, Oedipus ultimately frees himself from blind youth in order to discover painful wisdom. It seems his prophecy might not come true, but he remains worried because his mother is still alive. Teiresias: What will be Will be, though I should never speak again.
However, unlike most detective stories, this story is imbued with dramatic irony: while Oedipus attempts to uncover the truth, the audience already knows the answer to the mystery. Messenger: I am not surprised. She mocks Fate, telling Oedipus that no one can see the future and that all prophecies are false. And shall I tell thee more to stir thy rage? O Prince, Menoeceus' son, to thee, I turn, With the it rests to father them, for we Their natural parents, both of us, are lost. Oedipus: Come now, old shepherd - please to look at me, And answer my questions. Oedipus: Let all come out, However vile! Thus then I answer: since thou hast not spared To twit me with my blindness--thou hast eyes, Yet see'st not in what misery thou art fallen, Nor where thou dwellest nor with whom for mate. His shrine at Delphi housed a famous Oracle whose prophecies were both renowned and feared throughout the Greek city-states.
Go, maiden, at thy topmost speed, and tell Thy master this. Of course we held it, but we nothing heard. Oedipus: How long is it since Laius. I stand upon the perilous edge of speech. I, for one, prize less The name of king than deeds of kingly power; And so would all who learn in wisdoms school.
Now is the chance to get to the bottom of the mystery. And clearly the meaning of the god's command Is that we bring the unknown killer to justice. Chorus: Unspeakable to mortal ear, Too terrible for eyes to see. Before we could see out her tragedy, The King broke in with piercing cries, and all Had eyes only for him. An oracle Once came to Laius I will not say 'Twas from the Delphic god himself, but from His ministers declaring he was doomed To perish by the hand of his own son, A child that should be born to him by me.