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If all were at one in their ideas of honor and wisdom, [500] there would be no strife to make men disagree; but, as it is, fairness and equality have no existence in this world beyond the name; there is really no such thing. I will tell you this, mother, without any concealment: I would go to the rising of the stars and the sun, [505] or beneath the earth, if I were able so to do, to win Tyranny, the greatest of the gods. Therefore, mother, I will not yield this blessing to another rather than keep it for myself; for it is cowardly to lose the greater [510] and to win the less. Besides, I am ashamed to think that he should gain his object by coming with arms and ravaging the land; for this would be a disgrace to Thebes, if I should yield my scepter up to him for fear of Mycenaean might. [515] He ought not to have attempted reconcilement by armed force, mother, for words accomplish everything that even the sword of an enemy might effect. Still, if on any other terms he cares to dwell here, he may; but that I shall never willingly let go. [520] Shall I become his slave, when I can rule? Therefore come fire, come sword! Harness your horses, fill the plains with chariots, for I will not give up my tyranny to him. For if we must do wrong, to do so for tyranny [525] is the fairest cause, but in all else piety should be our aim.

Chorus Leader
One should not speak well on deeds that are not good; for that is not good, but bitter to justice.


Eteocles, my child, it is not all evil that attends old age; but experience [530] has something to say wiser than youth. Why, my son, do you so long for Ambition, that worst of deities? Oh, do not; the goddess is unjust; many are the homes and cities once prosperous that she has entered and left, to the ruin of her worshippers; [535] and she is the one you are mad for. It is better, my son, to honor Equality, who always joins friend to friend, city to city, allies to allies; for Equality is naturally lasting among men; but the less is always in opposition to the greater, [540] and begins the dawn of hatred. For it is Equality that has set up for man measures and divisions of weights, and has determined numbers; night's sightless eye, and radiant sun proceed upon their yearly course on equal terms, [545] and neither of them is envious when it has to yield. Though both sun and night are servants for mortals, you will not be content with your fair share of your heritage and give the same to him? Then where is justice?

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