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Tiresias
Oh!

you forsooth were taunting me but now
With my distempered humor -
Edipus -

Who would not, When but a word, which you pretend to know,

Would save a people ?
Tiresias -

One of them at least
It would not.
Edipus

Oh, scarce any man, methinks,
But would himself, though guiltless, sacrifice,

If that would ransom all.
Tiresias

Yet one, you see,
Obdurate as myself
Edipus

You have not heard, perchance, Tiresias
(Unless from that prophetic voice within),
How through the city, by my herald's voice,
With excommunication, death, or banishment,
I have denounced, not him alone who did,

But him who, knowing who, will not reveal ?
Tiresias -

I hear it now.
Edipus

And are inflexible
To Fear as Pity ?
Tiresias

It might be, to Fear
Inflexible by Pity; else, why fear
Invulnerable as I am in Truth,

And by the God I serve inviolate ?
Edipus

Is not your King a Minister of Zeus,
As you of Phoebus, and the King of Thebes
Not more to be insulted or defied

Than any Priest or Augur in his realm ?
Tiresias -

Implore, denounce, and threaten as you may,

What unrevealed I would, I will not say.
Edipus

You will not! Mark then how, default of your
Interpretation, I interpret you:
Either not knowing what you feign to know,
You lock your tongue in bafiled ignorance ;
Or, knowing that which you will not reveal,
I do suspect -- Suspect! why, stand you not
Self-accused, self-convicted, and by me
Denounced as he, that knowing him who did,

Will not reveal — nay, might yourself have done
The deed that you with some accomplice planned,

Could those blind eyes have aimed the murderous hand ? Tiresias

You say so! Now then, listen in your turn
To that one word which, as it leaves my lips,
By your own Curse upon the Criminal
Denounced, should be your last in Thebes to hear.
For by the unerring insight of the God
You question, Zeus his delegate though you be
Who lay this Theban people under curse
Of revelation of the murderer
Whose undiscovered presence eats away

The people's life - I tell you – You are he?
Chorus

Forbear, old man, forbear! And you, my King,

Heed not the passion of provoked old age.
Edipus -

And thus, in your blind passion of revenge,
You think to 'scape contempt or punishment
By tossing accusation back on me

Under Apollo's mantle.
Tiresias -

Ay, and more,
Dared you but listen.

Peace, O peace, old man!
Edipus -

Nay, let him shoot his poisoned arrows out;

They fall far short of me.
Tiresias

Not mine, but those
Which Fate had filled my Master's quiver with,

And you have drawn upon yourself. .
Edipus -

Your Master's ?
Your Master's; but assuredly not His
To whom you point, albeit you see him not,
In his meridian dazzling overhead,
Who is the God of Truth as well as Light,
And knows as I within myself must know
If Memory be not false as Augury,
The words you put into his lips a Lie!
Not He, but Self - Self only-in revenge
Of self-convicted ignorance - Self alone,
Or with some self whom Self would profit by
As were it - Creon, say-smooth, subtle Creon,
Moving by rule and weighing every word
As in the scales of Justice -- but of whom

Chorus

Whispers of late have reached me --Creon, ha!
Methinks I scent another Master here!
Who, wearied of but secondary power
Under an alien King, and would belike
Exalt his Prophet for good service done
Higher than ever by my throne he stood -
And, now I think on't, bade me send for you

Under the mask of Phæbus
Chorus

Oh, forbear -
Forbear, in turn, my lord and master!
Tiresias -

Nay,
Let him, in turn, his poisoned arrows, not
From Phæbus' quiver, shoot, but to recoil

When, his mad Passion having passed —
Edipus

O vain
Prerogative of human majesty,
That one poor mortal from his fellows takes,
And, with false pomp and honor dressing up,
Lifts idol-like to what men call a Throne,
For all below to worship and assail !
That even the power which unsolicited
By aught but salutary service done
The men of Thebes committed to my hands,
Some, restless under just authority,
Or jealous of not wielding it themselves,
Even with the altar and the priest collude,
And tamper with, to ruin or to seize!
Prophet and Seer forsooth, and Soothsayer !
Why, when the singing Witch contrived the noose
Which strangled all who tried and none could loose,
Where was the Prophet of Apollo then ?
'Twas not for one who poring purblind down
Over the reeking entrail of the beast,
Nor gaping to the wandering bird in air,
Nor in the empty silence of his soul
Feigning a voice of God inaudible,
Not he, nor any of his tribe — but I-
I, Edipus, a stranger in the land,
And uninspired by all but mother wit,
Silenced and slew the monster against whom
Divine and human cunning strove in vain.
And now again when tried, and foiled again,
This Prophet - whether to revenge the past,
And to prevent discomfiture to come,
Or by some traitor aiming at my throne

Suborned to stand a greater aŭ his side
Than peradventure e'er he stood at mine,
Would drag me to destruction! But beware!
Beware lest, blind and aged as you are,
Wrapt in supposititious sanctity,
You, and whoever he that leagues with you,
Meet a worse doom than

you

for me prepare. Tiresias

Quick to your vengeance, then; for this same day
That under Phæbus' fiery rein flies fast
Over the field of heaven, shall be the last

That you shall play the tyrant in. (Edipus

O Thebes,
You never called me Tyrant, from the day

Since first I saved you !
Tiresias

And shall save again;
As then by coming, by departing now.
Enough: before the day that judges both

Decide between us, let them lead me home. (Edipus

Ay, lead him hence — home - Hades - anywhere!

Blind in his inward as his outward eye.
Tiresias -

Poor man! that in your inward vision blind,
Know not, as I, that ere this day go down,
By your own hand yourself shall be consigned
To deeper night than now you taunt me with;
When, not the King and Prophet that you were,
But a detested outcast of the land,
With other eyes and hands you feel your way
To wander through the world, begging the bread
Of execration from the stranger's hand
Denied you here, and thrust from door to door,
As though yourself the Plague you brought from Thebes;
A wretch, self-branded with the double curse
Of such unheard, unnatural infamy,
As shall confound a son in the embrace
Of her who bore him to the sire he slew !

FROM EURIPIDES' "MEDEA."

TRANSLATION OF E. P. COLERIDGE.

[EURIPIDES : The last of the three Greek tragic poets; born on the island of Salamis in B.C. 480, according to popular tradition, on the day of the famous naval battle. He received instruction in physics from Anaxagoras, in rhetoric from Prodicus, and was on terms of intimate friendship with Socrates. He early devoted his attention to dramatic composition, and at the age of twenty-five obtained a prize for his first tragedy. After a successful career at Athens, he retired for unknown reasons to Magnesia in Thessaly, and thence proceeded to the court of Archelaus, king of Macedonia, where he died in B.c. 405. Of over seventy-five tragedies there have come down to us only eighteen, the best known being: “Alcestis,” “Medea,” “Hippolytus,” “Hecuba,” “Andromache," “ Iphigenia at Aulis," " Iphigenia among the Tauri,” “ Electra," “Orestes," “ Bacchæ.'']

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Jason — I am come at thy bidding, for e'en though thy hate for me is bitter thou shalt not fail in this small boon, but I will hear what new request thou hast to make of me, lady.

Medea -- Jason, I crave thy pardon for the words I spoke, and well thou mayest brook my burst of passion, for ere now we twain have shared much love. For I have reasoned with my soul and railed upon me thus: “Ab! poor heart! why am I thus distraught, why so angered 'gainst all good advice, why have I come to hate the rulers of the land, my husband too, who does the best for me he can, in wedding with a princess and rearing for my children noble brothers ? Shall I not cease to fret? What possesses me, when heaven its best doth offer? Have I not my children to consider? do I forget that we are fugitives, in need of friends ?” When I had thought all this, I saw how foolish I had been, how senselessly enraged. So now I do commend thee and think thee most wise in forming this connection for us; but I was mad, I who should have shared in these designs, helped on thy plans, and lent my aid to bring about the match, only too pleased to wait upon thy bride. But what we are, we are, we women, evil I will not say; wherefore thou shouldst not sink to our sorry level nor with our weapons meet our childishness.

I yield and do confess that I was wrong then, but now have I come to a better mind. Come hither, my children, come, leave the house, step forth, and with me greet and bid farewell to your father, be reconciled from all past bitterness unto your friends, as now your mother is; for we have made a truce and anger is no more.

By permission of Geo. Bell & Sons. (2 vols., price 58. each.)

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