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I did not invite you to this funeral, [630] nor do I count your presence here as that of a friend. As for your finery, she shall never wear it, for she needs nothing of yours for her burial. You should have shared my trouble when I was dying. You stood aside and, though you are old, [635] allowed a young person to die: and will you now come to mourn her? You were not, as it now seems clear, truly my father, nor did she who claims to have borne me and is called my mother really give me birth, but I was born of some slave and secretly put to your wife's breast. [640] When you were put to the test you showed your true nature, and I do not count myself as your son. You are, you know, truly superlative in cowardice; for though you are so old and have come to the end of your life, yet you refused and had not the courage to die [645] for your own son, but you and your wife let this woman, who was no blood relative, do so. I shall consider her with perfect justice to be both mother and father to me. And yet it would have been a noble contest to enter, dying for your son, and in any case [650] the time you had left to live was short. [And she and I would have lived for the rest of our time, and I would not be grieving for my trouble, bereft of her.]

What is more, all that is required for a man to be happy has already befallen you: you spent the prime of your life as a king, [655] and you had me as son and successor to your house, so that you were not going to die childless and leave your house behind without heirs for others to plunder. Surely you cannot say that you abandoned me to death because I dishonored you in your old age, for I have always shown you [660] every respect. And now this is the repayment you and my mother have made to me. You had better hurry, therefore, and beget other children to take care of you in old age and, when you have died, to dress you and lay you out for burial. [665] I for my part shall never bury you myself. For as far as in you lay I am dead. And if I have found another savior and still look upon the sun, I am that savior's child and fond support in old age. It seems that old men, [670] who find fault with age and length of years, pray for death insincerely. For once death comes near, none of them wishes to die, and age is no longer burdensome to them.

Stop your railing—the present grief is enough—and do not provoke your father!

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 1259
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 98
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 3.2.3
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (3):
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