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Creon
sung
Alas! you have a great tale of woe for me and the city.

spoken
O house of Oedipus, have you heard these tidings of sons slain by the same fate?

Chorus Leader
A tale to make it weep, if it were endowed with sense.

Creon
sung
[1345] Oh! most grievous stroke of fate! [:Alas for my sorrows! Oh, alas!]

Messenger
If you only know the sorrows other than those!

Creon
How can they be more hard to bear than these?

Messenger
Your sister has died, with her two sons.

Chorus
sung
[1350] Loudly, loudly raise the wail, and with white hands strike upon your heads!

Creon
Oh, wretched Jocasta! what an end to life and marriage you have found the riddling of the Sphinx! Tell me how her two sons accomplished the bloody deed, [1355] the struggle caused by the curse of Oedipus.

Messenger

Messenger
Of our successes before the towers you know, for the walls are not far away [so as to prevent your learning each event as it occurred]. Now when they, [1360] the young sons of the old Oedipus, had adorned themselves in their bronze armor, they went and took their stand between the armies, [chieftains both and two generals] for the contest and the single combat. Then Polyneices, turning his eyes towards Argos, lifted up a prayer: [1365] “O Lady Hera, for I am yours, since I have married the daughter of Adrastus and dwell in your land, grant that I may slay my brother, and give my right hand, which is set against him, the victory, stained with his blood.” [Asking for a shameful crown, to kill his brother. [1370] And tears came to the eyes of many at their sad fate, and men looked at one another, casting their glances round.] But Eteocles, looking towards the temple of Pallas with the golden shield, prayed: “Daughter of Zeus, grant that this arm may launch the spear of victory [1375] against my brother's breast and slay him who has come to sack my country.”

When the Tuscan trumpet, like a torch, blew the signal for the bloody battle, they darted wildly against one another; [1380] like boars whetting their savage tusks, they joined battle, their beards wet with foam. They kept shooting out their spears, but crouched beneath their shields to let the steel glance off in vain; but if either saw the other's eye above the rim, [1385] he would aim his lance there, eager to outwit him with the point. But both kept such careful outlook through the spy-holes in their shields, that their weapons found nothing to do; while from the onlookers far more than the combatants trickled the sweat caused by terror for their friends.

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