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Oedipus Rex-Sophocles





OEDIPUS How baseless, if I am their very son? MESSENGER Since Polybus was naught to thee in blood. OEDIPUS What say'st thou? was not Polybus my sire? MESSENGER As much thy sire as I am, and no more. OEDIPUS My sire no more to me than one who is naught? MESSENGER Since I begat thee not, no more did he. OEDIPUS What reason had he then to call me son? MESSENGER Know that he took thee from my hands, a gift. OEDIPUS Yet, if no child of his, he loved me well. MESSENGER A childless man till then, he warmed to thee. OEDIPUS A foundling or a purchased slave, this child? MESSENGER I found thee in Cithaeron's wooded glens. OEDIPUS What led thee to explore those upland glades? MESSENGER My business was to tend the mountain flocks. OEDIPUS A vagrant shepherd journeying for hire? MESSENGER True, but thy savior in that hour, my son. OEDIPUS My savior? from what harm? what ailed me then? MESSENGER Those ankle joints are evidence enow. OEDIPUS Ah, why remind me of that ancient sore? MESSENGER I loosed the pin that riveted thy feet. OEDIPUS Yes, from my cradle that dread brand I bore. MESSENGER Whence thou deriv'st the name that still is thine. OEDIPUS Who did it? I adjure thee, tell me who Say, was it father, mother? MESSENGER I know not. The man from whom I had thee may know more. OEDIPUS What, did another find me, not thyself? MESSENGER Not I; another shepherd gave thee me. OEDIPUS Who was he? Would'st thou know again the man? MESSENGER He passed indeed for one of Laius' house. OEDIPUS The king who ruled the country long ago? MESSENGER The same: he was a herdsman of the king. OEDIPUS And is he living still for me to see him? MESSENGER His fellow-countrymen should best know that. OEDIPUS Doth any bystander among you know The herd he speaks of, or by seeing him Afield or in the city? answer straight! The hour hath come to clear this business up. CHORUS Methinks he means none other than the hind Whom thou anon wert fain to see; but that Our queen Jocasta best of all could tell. OEDIPUS Madam, dost know the man we sent to fetch? Is the same of whom the stranger speaks? JOCASTA Who is the man? What matter?



Let it be. 'Twere waste of thought to weigh such idle words. OEDIPUS No, with such guiding clues I cannot fail To bring to light the secret of my birth. JOCASTA Oh, as thou carest for thy life, give o'er This quest. Enough the anguish _I_ endure. OEDIPUS Be of good cheer; though I be proved the son Of a bondwoman, aye, through three descents Triply a slave, thy honor is unsmirched. JOCASTA Yet humor me, I pray thee; do not this. OEDIPUS I cannot; I must probe this matter home. JOCASTA 'Tis for thy sake I advise thee for the best. OEDIPUS I grow impatient of this best advice. JOCASTA Ah mayst thou ne'er discover who thou art! OEDIPUS Go, fetch me here the herd, and leave yon woman To glory in her pride of ancestry. JOCASTA O sadness is thee, poor wretch! With that last word I leave thee, from now on silent evermore. CHORUS Why, Oedipus, why stung with passionate grief Hath the queen thus departed? Much I fear From this dead calm will burst a storm of woes. OEDIPUS Let the storm burst, my fixed resolve still holds, To learn my lineage, be it ne'er so low. It may be she with all a woman's pride Thinks scorn of my base parentage. But I Who rank myself as Fortune's favorite child, The giver of good gifts, shall not be shamed. She is my mother and the changing moons My brethren, and with them I wax and wane. Thus sprung why should I fear to trace my birth? Nothing can make me other than I am.

Words: 1506




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