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Why do you honor to excess tyranny, a prosperous injustice, [550] why do you think so much of it? Admiring glances are to be prized? No, that is an empty pleasure. Or do you want to have many troubles from the many riches in your house? What advantage is it? The name only; for the wise find what suffices to be enough. [555] Mortals indeed have no possessions of their own; we hold the management of the gods' property; and when they will, they take it back again. [Prosperity is not secure, but as transient as the day.]

Come, suppose I put before you two alternatives, and ask you [560] whether you wish to rule or save your city? Will you say you wish to rule? Again, if this man conquers you [and his Argive warriors take the army of Cadmus,] you will see this city of Thebes conquered, and you will see many captured maidens [565] brutally dishonored by men of the enemy. Then that wealth you seek to have will become grievous to Thebes; but still ambition fills you.

That I say to you; and this to you, Polyneices; Adrastus has conferred a foolish favor on you; [570] and you too have shown little sense in coming to lay your city waste. Suppose you conquer this land—may it not happen!—tell me, by the gods, how will you set up a trophy to Zeus? How will you begin the sacrifice after your country's conquest or inscribe the spoils at the streams of Inachus: [575] “Polyneices after giving Thebes to the flames dedicated these shields to the gods”? O my son, may you never win such fame from Hellas! If, on the other hand, you are beaten and your brother's cause prevails, how will you return to Argos, leaving countless dead behind? [580] Some one will be sure to say: “Adrastus, you made an evil betrothal; we are ruined by the marriage of one bride.” You are eager for two evils, my son, the loss of those there and ruin in the midst of your efforts here.

Lay aside your violence, my sons, lay it aside; two men's follies, [585] once they meet, result in very deadly evil.

Chorus Leader
O gods, avert these troubles and reconcile the sons of Oedipus!

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 996
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