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Hippolytus
For you, lady, I bring this plaited garland I have made, gathered from an inviolate meadow, [75] a place where the shepherd does not dare to pasture his flocks, where the iron scythe has never come: no, it is inviolate, and the bee makes its way through it in the spring-time. Shamefast Awe tends this garden with streams of river-water, for those to pluck who have acquired nothing by teaching but rather in whose very nature [80] chastity in all things has ever won its place: the base may not pluck. But, dear lady, take this coronal for your golden hair from a worshipful hand. For I alone of mortals have this privilege: [85] I spend my days with you and speak with you, I hear your voice but never see your face. May I end my life just as I have begun it!

Servant
Lord—for it is as gods that one should address one's masters1—would you take a piece of good advice from me?

Hippolytus
[90] Most certainly. Else I should not seem wise.

Servant
The rule observed by mortals—do you know it?

Hippolytus
No. What is the law you question me about?

Servant
To hate what's haughty and not friend to all.

Hippolytus
And rightly. Who that's haughty gives no pain?

Servant
[95] And is there charm in affability?

Hippolytus
Yes, much, and profit too with little toil.

Servant
Do you think the same is true among the gods?

Hippolytus
Yes, if we humans follow heavenly usage.

Servant
How then no word for a high and mighty2 goddess?

Hippolytus
[100] Which? Careful lest your tongue commit some slip.3

Servant
pointing to the statue of Aphrodite
The goddess here, who stands beside your gate.

Hippolytus
I greet her from afar, for I am pure.

Servant
Yet she's revered and famous among mortals.

Hippolytus
I do not like a god worshipped at night.

Servant
[107] My son, to honor the gods is only just.

Hippolytus
Men have their likes, in gods and men alike.

Servant
I wish you fortune—and the good sense you need!

Hippolytus
Go, servants, enter the house and prepare the meal. After the hunt a full table [110] is a pleasure. And you must rub down my horses so that when I am sated with meat I can yoke them to my chariot and give them their proper exercise.

Exit the Chorus of Servants into the palace.
As for your Aphrodite, I bid her a very good day!Exit Hippolytus into the palace.

Servant
I, however, since we should not imitate the young [115] when their thoughts are like these, shall pray, in words befitting a slave, to your statue, my lady Aphrodite. You should be forgiving: if youth makes someone's heart stiff with pride and he utters folly, pretend not to hear him. [120] For gods should be wiser than mortals.Exit Servant into the palace. Enter by Eisodos B women of Trozen as Chorus.

1 Or ‘Lord—for it is the gods one should call masters’. For a defense of the translation above, see M. L. West, CR 15 (1965) 156 and 16 (1966) 17 and D. Kovacs, CP 75 (1980) 136-7.

2 Six lines earlier the servant had used σέμνων in the unfavorable sense. Here he uses it to mean ‘august’, ‘revered’, with, however, an unintentional overtone of ‘haughty’ my translation tries to suggest.

3 Several divinities, among them Demeter's daughter Persephone, were called ‘august’ and were considered unsafe to call by their proper names.

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1980 AD (1)
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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 65
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