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Chorus Leader
From trivial causes the tongue causes great quarrel for mankind. Mortals who are wise take care not to start a quarrel with those near and dear to them.

Menelaus
[645] How can you maintain that old men are wise, when you, Peleus, son of a famous father and connected by marriage with a man who was once renowned among the Greeks for wisdom, utter words that are disgraceful to yourself and reproachful to me on account of this barbarian woman [650] here? You ought to be driving her off to beyond the Nile's waters or beyond the Phasis—and asking for my help at it too—since she is from Asia where great numbers of Greeks fell before the spear, and she shares in the death of your son, Achilles. [655] [For Paris, who slew your son Achilles, was Hector's brother, and she was Hector's wife.] Yet you share the same roof with her, you think it right to have her at your table, and you allow her to give birth in your house to children who are your bitterest enemies. [660] And when I, in forethought for you and for me, meant to kill her, I find she is snatched from my hands. Yet come now (it is no shame to touch on this point) if my daughter has no children and Andromache does, will you set them up as kings [665] over the land of Phthia, and will they, though barbarian in race, rule over Greeks? After that can you maintain that I, who hate what is not right, am lacking in judgment, while it is you that have sense?

[Consider now this point too. If you had given your daughter to one of your fellow-citizens and she had suffered this kind of treatment, [670] would you sit by in silence? I do not think so. Yet do you, on behalf of a foreigner, shout such things at your close kin? Further, a woman groans as much as a man when she is wronged by her mate; so too a man groans when he has a wayward wife in his house. [675] The man's strength lies in his hands, while the woman's interests are defended by her parents and kin. Am I not right then to come to the aid of my own?]

You are an old, old man. And when you mention my generalship, you help my case more than you would have by silence. [680] Helen got into trouble not of her own accord but by the will of the gods, and this was a very great service to Hellas. For the Greeks, who were ignorant of weapons and battle, made progress in learning martial courage, and association is the teacher of all things to mortals. [685] And if I forebore, when I came face to face with my wife, to kill her, that was self-control. I could wish that you had not killed Phocus either.1

This attack on you I have made in good will toward you, not out of anger. But if you show a hot temper, you merely increase [690] your prattling, whereas my prudent foresight is a gain to me.

Chorus Leader
Cease from these foolish words, both of you—this is by far the best course—lest the two of you fall together.

1 Peleus and his brother Telamon killed their half-brother Phocus, son of Aeacus by a nymph.

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 463-512
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