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CHORUS OF AGED THEBANS.
* Arrian, ap. Stob. S. 97. 28. hints that both the Edipi were personated by Polus, a distinguished actor, of whom Gellius makes mention, 7. 5.
EDIPUS. My children, youthful brood of Cadmus the ancient, what can be [the meaning of these sittings ye are hurrying* here before me, decorated with supplicatory branches ? whilst the city is at the same time full-fraught with incense-offerings, and at the same time with both pæan-hymns and groanings. All which, I thinking it my duty to decline hearing from messengers, t my children, have in person come hither; I, Edipus, titled by all the Illustrious. But, O aged man, say, since it naturally becomes thee to speak on behalf of these, in what mood ye stand affected; by fears, or by earnest wishes; since I would willingly give you every succour ; for I were lost to sympathy, not to compassionate a meeting such as this.
PRIEST. But, O Edipus, present sovereign of my country, us indeed thou beholdest, of what ages we are who sit as suppliants before thine altars here; || some of us not yet of strength to wing our flight afar; others priests weighed down with old age, myself the priest of Jupiter; and others here the chosen of
; the youths : but the rest of the populace decked with branches, is seated in the market-places, and near both the shrines of Pallas, and at Ismenus' ashes of divination. For the city,
* Doáśw, like the word by which it is here rendered, is both transitive and intransitive.
† Allwv övrwv dyyédwr is Erfurdt's interpretation ; but Elmsley, unus omnium diligentissimus Attici sermonis scrutator, makes äldwv redundant.
† From the position of Trãou it might not be improper to translate "the all-illustrious," with a construction like that of v. 40. See also (Ed. Col. 1446.
|| The altars alluded to were of various deities, placed by individuals before their houses, as patriotism or private gratitude might dictate. See the Curculio of Plautus, I, i, 7; Arist. Wasps, 875.
§ “Both the shrines.” Minerva had a temple at Thebes in virtue of her name Oncæa, and another as Ismenia, which latter name Apollo also bore, and presided over an altar of burnt sacrifices.
even as thou thyself beholdest, is now over-roughly tossing on the surge, and from the abysses of that ensanguined surge is no longer able freely to lift her head ; withering in the husks that envelope the fruits of the soil
, withering in the pasturing herds of kine, and in the abortive labours of women; whilst therewithal the fire-wielding God, most hated pestilence, has darted on and ravages the city : by whom the house of Cadmus is made empty, * but dark Hades rich with wailings deep and loud. Now I and these my sons here are seated petitioners by the hearth, judging thee not equal with the Gods, but of men the first, whether for the common casualties of life, or the interventions of higher powers. Who at least, though a visitor to Cadmus' capital, hast abolished the tribute of the stern chauntress, which we were furnishing : and this too neither acquainted by us with any thing further, t nor instructed of us: no; by the prompting of god thou art reputed and believed to have righted our condition. Now too, O majesty of Edipus, owned paramount by all, we implore thee, all prostrate here before thee, to find some help for us, whether by hearing the voice of any god, or from any human source, thou knowest such: since to the experienced I observe even the issues of their counsels to be the most flourishing. Go, best of mortals, re-establish the state, go, look well to it: since at present indeed this our land celebrates thee as its preserver for thy former zeal—but O! may we in no wise remember thy reign in particular for our having both regained our footing and afterwards fallen: no; in unrelapsing strength restore our country. For as with propitious augury thou didst render to us the former lucky service, so in the present instance be equal [to thyself.] Since if in sooth thou wilt govern this our realm, as surely thou dost sway it, it is more noble to sway it with a people, than desolate. For neither tower nor ship is aught, if destitute of men associating therein 1.
Ed. My children, objects of my pity, you have come to me with wishes known, yes, not unknown to me; for well am I aware that ye are all diseased, and diseased though ye be, there is not one of you who is equally diseased with me.
* The punctuation in Hermann's last edition (1825) after Kevoõrat seems to weaken the force of contrast in this passage. It is here translated as if the stop were a comma.
| “Further," that is, than the bare fact of the riddle proposed, and the penalty exacted by the Sphinx.
I “ Ceterum similiter, homines, non muros, esse urbes, dixerat Themistocles.” Erfurdt. This article of political belief was forcibly expressed by Themistocles; it was still more strikingly acted on by Lycurgus; for the former rebuilt the walls of Athens, the latter left Sparta unwalled.