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Creon
They have seven men, I hear—

Eteocles
What is their appointed task? their might is small.

Creon
. . . To attack the seven gates.

Eteocles
[740] What are we to do then? I will not wait till every chance is gone.

Creon
You also choose seven men to set against them at the gates.

Eteocles
To lead our companies, or to fight single-handed?

Creon
To lead; choose the very bravest ones.

Eteocles
I understand; to repel attempts at scaling our walls.

Creon
[745] With others to share the command, for one man doesn't see everything.

Eteocles
Selecting them for courage or thoughtful prudence?

Creon
Both; for one is nothing without the other.

Eteocles
It shall be done; I will go to our seven towers and post captains at the gates, as you say, [750] pitting them man for man against the enemy. To tell each one's name is a great waste of time, when the enemy are camped beneath our very walls. But I will go, that my hands may no longer hang idle. And may I find my brother face to face, [755] meet him in battle and kill him with my spear [and kill him, for coming to waste my country!] But if I suffer any misfortune, you must see to the marriage between Antigone, my sister and Haemon, your son; and now, as I take my leave, [760] I ratify their previous betrothal. You are my mother's brother, no need to speak at length. Take care of her as she deserves, both for your own sake and mine. As for my father, he has been guilty of folly against himself in putting out his eyes; I have small praise for him; [765] by his curses it may be that he will slay us too.

One thing we still have to do: ask Teiresias, the seer, if he has anything to say of heaven's will. I will send your son Menoeceus, who bears your father's name, [770] to fetch Teiresias here, Creon; for he will readily converse with you, but I have before now so scorned his prophetic art to his face, that he has reasons to reproach me. This commandment, Creon, I lay upon the city and you: [775] if my cause should prevail, never give Polyneices' corpse a grave in Theban soil, and let the one who buries him die, even if it is a friend. [This I say to you; and this to my servants] Bring out my weapons and armor, [780] so that I may start at once for the appointed combat, with justice to lead to victory. We will pray to Caution, the most useful goddess, to save our city.Eteocles and his retinue go out.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 216-462
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