Oedipus Rex-Sophocles


JOCASTA
My lords look amazed to see your queen with wreaths and gifts of incense in her hands. I had a mind to visit the high shrines, for Oedipus is nervous, alarmed with various terrors. He will not use his past experience, like a man of sense, to judge the present need, but lends his ear to any croaker that argues. Since then my counsels dont have an advantage, I turn to thee, our help when we are in trouble, Apollo, Lord Lycean, and to you my prayers and pleas I bring. Ease us, lord, and cleanse us from this curse! For now we all are intimidated. Who see their helmsman confused in the storm.


MESSENGER: My masters, tell me where the palace of Oedipus is; or better, where’s the king.

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CHORUS
Here is the palace and he lives within it; this is his queen the mother of his children.

MESSENGER: All happiness attend her and the house. Her marriage-bed and husband are both blessed.

JOCASTA: My greetings to you, stranger; whose reasonable words deserve a like response. But tell me why have you come–what do you need or what news do you have?
MESSENGER: It is good for your husband and the royal house.

JOCASTA: What is it? Whose messenger are you?
MESSENGER: The Isthmian commons have resolved to make your husband kingat least that is what I heard.

JOCASTA: What! Isnt aged Polybus still king?
MESSENGER: No, regretfully; he’s dead and in his grave.

JOCASTA: What! The sire of Oedipus is dead?
MESSENGER: If I dont speak the truth I may die.

JOCASTA: Quick, maiden, Tell this news to my lord. The god-sent oracles, where are they now? This is the man whom Oedipus long turned away from, in dread to prove his murderer; and now he dies in nature’s course, not by Oedipus doings.

OEDIPUS: My wife, my queen, Jocasta, why have you called me from my palace.

JOCASTA: Listen to this man, and explain what happened to the oracles.

OEDIPUS: Who is this man, and what is his news for me?
JOCASTA: He comes from Corinth and his message is this: your father Polybus has passed away.

OEDIPUS: What? Tell me in your own words.

MESSENGER: There is no other way of saying this, the king is dead.

OEDIPUS: By old age, or by sickness?
MESSENGER: One touch will send an old man to his rest.

OEDIPUS: It was sickness then?
MESSENGER: Yes, and his age.

OEDIPUS:Ah! why should one regard the Pythian hearth or birds that scream in the air? Did they not point at me saying I killed my father? but he’s dead and in his grave, and here I am who never touched a sword; unless the longing for his absent son killed him and so I slew him in a sense. But, as they stand, the oracles are dead–dust, ashes, nothing, dead as Polybus.

JOCASTA: Did I not predict this long ago?
OEDIPUS: You did: but I was misled by my fear.

JOCASTA: Dont ever think of these things again.

OEDIPUS: Can I not fear my mother’s marriage bed.

JOCASTA: Why should a mortal man, with no assured foreknowledge, be afraid? It is best if one lives a careless life through. Dont fear this marriage with your mother. How often does the chance that a man weds his mother! No reasonable man is troubled by this.

OEDIPUS: I should have had full confidence, is not my mother alive; since she lives I still have to worry.

JOCASTA: And yet thy sire’s death lights out darkness much.

OEDIPUS
Much, but my fear is touching her who lives.

MESSENGER
Who may this woman be whom thus you fear?
OEDIPUS
Merope, stranger, wife of Polybus.

MESSENGER
And what of her can cause you any fear?
OEDIPUS
A heaven-sent oracle of dread import.

MESSENGER
A mystery, or may a stranger hear it?
OEDIPUS
Aye, ’tis no secret. Loxias once foretold
That I should mate with mine own mother, and shed
With my own hands the blood of my own sire.

Hence Corinth was for many a year to me
A home distant; and I trove abroad,
But missed the sweetest sight, my parents’ face.

MESSENGER
Was this the fear that exiled thee from home?
OEDIPUS
Yea, and the dread of slaying my own sire.

MESSENGER
Why, since I came to give thee pleasure, King,
Have I not rid thee of this second fear?
OEDIPUS
Well, thou shalt have due guerdon for thy pains.

MESSENGER
Well, I confess what chiefly made me come
Was hope to profit by thy coming

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