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affliction falls on one alone, in his own person, and on none other; while my soul sighs at once both for my state and myself and thee. So that ye awake' me not slumbering in sleep at least, but know that I already have shed many tears, have traversed many paths in the wanderings of thought: and that the only mode of cure which I had discovered by careful scrutiny, that have I put in execution. For I despatched to the Pythian mansions of Apollo, Creon, the son of Meneceus, my kinsman by marriage, to enquire by what deed or word 'I might deliver this my city. And the day being already correspondent by calculation to his time, pain's me for his fate [as to how he fares), since beyond reasonable expectation he is away longer than a due period. But whenever he shall have arrived, that instant I were a villain not to perform to the full all that heaven may reveal.
Pr. Nay, both thou hast well said, 'and these too just now signify to me that Creon is walking towards us.
Ev. Hear, king Apollo, for O that he may have come with some saviour fortune at least, even as he is sparkling of eye.
Pr. If one may guess, however, he is welcome; else would he not have been proceeding hither, his head thus amplywreathed with all-fruitful laurel. *
Ed. Quickly shall we know, for he is within reach of hearing us. Prince, my relation, son of Menæceus, what report from the god comest thou bringing to us?
CREON. Good : for I assert that even our grievances, should they chance to have their issues aright, might be altogether fortunate.t
Ed. But of what purport is the oracle ? For I am neither rashly sanguine, nor yet however prematurely alarmed at thy present speech at least.
Cr. If thou choosest to hear while these are by, I am ready to tell thee, or if [thou choosest] to retire within doors.
Ed. Speak openly to all, for I make more account of the sorrows of these my people than of even mine own life.
* The laurel crown, say the commentators, was the privilege of those “ quibus lætæ sortes obtigerant.” Chremylus in the Plutus, however, will hardly allow the “lætæ sortes” to be his lot, though his slave wears the chaplet.
† A purposely dark answer, breathing the true Loxian spirit.
I GR, ČOTIV dè trolov ToŬTOS ; Quid hoc sermonis est ? BR. “What mean thy words ?” Dale. "Eros is emphatically an oracle, and moreover the expression to ye võv lóyw would be a mere repetition, if Brunck's translation were correct. In the same passage the opposition of Opaoùs to πρoδείσας gives confirmation to the distinction made between θράσος and Oápcos, audacia and fiducia.
CR. I will say what kind of answer I heard from the god. King Phæbus openly enjoins us to expel from the country a pollution, as having been bred in this our land, nor to foster what is incurable.
Ed. By what kind of purification ? What is the nature of the evil ?
Cr. By banishing, or requiting death with death, since the following bloodshed troubles the state. *
Ed. Why of what manner of man does he indicate this fate ?
Cr. We had once, O king, Laïus as the sovereign of this land, ere thou didst regulate (the helm of] this state.
Ed. I knew him by hearsay, for I never as yet at least saw him.
Cr. This man having perished, Apollo now clearly gives us orders to punish certain his actual assassins.
Ed. But where on earth are these same? Where shall be discovered this vestige hard to conjecture of an ancient crime ?
Cr. In this land, he told me. But what is searched for, is to be got at, while that which is unregarded escapes.
Ed. But is it in the house, or in the field, or in another land, that Laïus encounters this bloody death?
CR. Quitting home, as he told us, on a visit to the oracle, he never more came back to that home, as he had been called from it.
Ed. And was no messenger, nor partaker of his journey, a witness to this, from whom gaining intelligence one might have used it?
CR. No; for they are dead, except one individual, who, having fled in terror, had nought to tell from his knowledge of what he saw, except one fact.
Ed. Of what nature that fact? for one thing might find means to learn many, could we lay hold of but a slender foundation of hope.
Cr. He used to say, that robbers chancing on Laïus had slain him, not by the valour of one arm, but with a number of & hands.
* τοδ αίμα χειμάζον πόλιν. Although the translator has not ventured to render this otherwise than Erfurdt, Hermann, and Elmsley have given it, i. e. as an accusative absolute, and with the word tóde referring to something subsequent, he has still a doubt whether cotì might not be understood, and the passage construed thus: “Since this is a case of bloodshed troubling the city.” The answer of Edipus will then run thus: “How so? for of what manner of man,” etc.: but it hardly seems natural that Edipus should interrupt one who indicated (as is done by róde, according to the critics) his purpose of immediately proceeding to specify the murder.
Ed. How then would the bandit, had there been no tampering by bribes from hence, have reached such a pitch of audacity as this?
Cr. This was suspected; but amid disasters there came forward no one as the avenger of Laïus now no more.
Ed. But what kind of distress interfering, when the monarchy had thus declined, checked you from sitting out this matter?
CR. The Sphinx, mysterious songstress, compelled us to look to that which was before our steps, having abandoned what was hidden from sight.
Ed. But from its first cause will I bring it to light again. For right worthily has Phæbus, and worthily hast thou set on foot this present examination in the cause of the deceased: so that deservedly ye will see me also your abettor, avenging at once my land here, and the god. For in behalf, not of my more distant friends, but myself of myself, shall I disperse this gathered pollution. Since whoever it was that murdered him, he might perhaps wish to take vengeance on me too with like hand. In supporting his cause, therefore, I advantage myself. But with what speed ye may, my children, do you on your part arise from off your seats, removing these branches of supplication; but let some one else assemble hither the people of Cadmus, since I purpose to take every step. For we will will prove ourselves either with heaven's aid prosperous or undone.
PR. My sons, let us arise ; since even for the sake of those things our prince of himself announces, came we hither. But may Phæbus, who has sent us these divinations, come with them both our deliverer and in the quality of healer to our sickness.
CHORUS. O sweetly-speaking oracle of Jove, to what import canst thou have come from Pytho stored with gold, to illustrious Thebes ? I am prostrated in my timorous spirit
, quivering with dismay, 0 healer, Delian, Pæan, awfully anxious about thee, as to what matter thou wilt bring to pass for me, either at once, or hereafter in the revolving seasons. Tell me, thou progeny of golden hope, imperishable Fame: to me who invoke thee first, daughter of Jove, immortal Minerva, and thy sister, protectress of our soil, Artemis, who is enthroned on her circling chair of fair renown in the market-place, and Apollo, striking his quarry from afar; oh, be ye timely present to me, three several averters of destruction, if ever, in the case of a previous calamity also besetting my country, ye thoroughly exterminated the flame of mischief, now too approach: ye powers, for I suffer incalculable miseries; nay,
my whole people to a man is sickening; nor is there amongst us the armour of precaution, wherewith one shall defend himself: for neither do the productions of our celebrated* soil thrive, nor in childbed do our women recover from their poignant throes;t but one upon another mightest thou see, even as a well-fledged bird, more fiercely than uncontrollable fire, I speeding towards the shore of the western god. || In the uncounted hosts of whom the city is perishing, and whole generations unpitied are lying without a tear (to their memory) on the plain whose harvest is death; while among them wives and gray-haired mothers withal, some from this, some from that quarter, along the rising altar-slope as suppliants, on account of their deplorable afflictions wail out a sad lament. But clear bursts the pæan-anthem, and a sorrow-breathing voice chiming in, Wherefore, O golden daughter of Jove, send Rescue, fair of aspect, and make the pestilent Mars, who now unarmed with brazen shield, (but) environed with shrieks, encounters and scorches me, to turn his back in homeward hurrying flight, an outlaw from my country, either to the vast bower of Amphitrite, or to that inhospitable harbourage the Thracian breakers; for, in fine, if night have spared a relic, on this day fastens. Which (Mars), O thou that wieldest the sovereignty of the fiery lightnings, O Jove our sire, blast by thy thunderbolt. Thine invincible artillery also, O princely lord of light, s from the golden twisted horns of thy bow would
* Brunck says, that one codex reads k,vtà; but the plan of Baotia is particularised by ancient writers, and, among others, by Thucydides in his preface, for its fertility.
ť dvexoúol, “ bear up with.” All the commentators seem to coincide in accepting Hesychius's interpretation of intos as translated.
[ In the Hecuba of Euripides, the anarchy of a ship's crew is termed kpcioowv Tupòs, in a similar sense to that given in this translation ; yet the second interpretation of the scholiast, "too fast for the (funeral) fires though unquenched,” derives plausibility from Thucydides' account of the αναίσχυντοι θήκαι, ii. 52.
|| “Western god.” Neminem præterea novi qui sic Plutonem vocaverit, πόρεύ 'Αχέροντος ακτά παρ' εύσκιον habet Pindarus Pyth. ii, str. 2. Vide et Antig. 806, 7. Musgrave. In the peroration of Lysias' Oration against Andocides in this passage, “To expiate this pollution,” (the mutilation of the Hermæ,) "the priesteses and priests, turning toward the setting sun, the dwelling of the infernal gods, devoted with curses the sacrilegious wretch, and shook their purple robes, in the manner prescribed by that law which has been transmitted from earliest times.”* Mitford, Hist. of Greece, c. xxii, sect. 2.
§ The old word dúkn or dúkos, (whence, probably, the Latin lux,) forms λυκόφως and λυκάβας. The latter word occurring in Apollonius Rhodius, Argon. i, 198, first suggested to the translator of this play an idea which he is happy to find sanctioned by Maltby's authority, (v. lúkelos,) that even the Sophoclean /vkoktóvos is one, among many other fanciful substitutes, for the true origin of this epithet.
I gladly celebrate as champions in our aid, and the flametipped blazing lights of Diana, wherewith she scours the Lycian mountains: him of the golden mitre, too, I call, surnamed of this our land Bacchus Evius, of aspect flushed with wine, fellow-rambler of the Manada, to approach, flaming with thy beamy pine-torch, upon the god unhonoured amongst gods.*
En. Thou petitionest but for thy petition, if thou be willing to hear and receive these my words, and to give thy attention to the disease, thou mightest obtain succour and alleviation of thy miseries: words, which I shall utter, a stranger to this tale before us, a stranger to the crime committed. For I by myself could not trace the matter far, unless I had some clew: but now, seeing that I am enrolled among our citizens a citizen of later date, to all you Cadmæans I make proclamation thus: Whatsoever man of you chances to know of Laïus son of Labdacus, by what man be fell, him I command to make full confession to me. And whether he fears, as having to divulge from concealment the impeachment himself against himself; † let him, seeing he shall suffer nothing else unwelcome, but shall quit the country unharmed; or whether, on the other hand, any one have another from another land as such, let him not be silent as to the assassin, for his reward I will pay, and gratitude shall accrue to him besides. But if, on the contrary, ye shall be dumb, and any one apprehensive either on his friend's account, or even on his own, shall have disregarded this my warning, you are to hear from me this which I purpose consequently to do. I prohibit any one of this land, of which I wield the powers and royalties, from either receiving or accosting, from making a communicant with himself of either vows or sacrifices to the gods, and from apportioning the lavers of holy water to this wretch, whoever he is : but I will that all thrust him from their homes, for that this is the defilement upon us, as the Pythian oracle of the divinity has just now revealed to me. * drótipos, Pindar, Pyth. ii, 80,
δράσι γερασφόρον, ούτ' εν θεών νομούς. † Únete)v toțríkinua, “ crimen confitendo diluens.” Elms. “Conditum promens.” Hermann; who quotes the Electra, 1411, where the scholiast's interpretation is plainer than his own; and Eurip. Hipp. 629. (ed. Monk,) where Monk says, “hunc versum forsam omitti potuisse censuit Valchenaerius ;” and where the idea of draining silently off, seems as apposite as conditum promens, when applied to ölßov dwpátwy. In the 4th book of Thucydides, c. 83, the better authorities have únetenziv, for υπεξελθεϊν τα δεινά, which is most aptly rendered « to remove out of the way.” The reader must choose between the note and the text, which follows Hermann.