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Teiresias
Then hear the intent of my oracle; [if you observe it, you will save the city of Cadmus] you must sacrifice Menoeceus, your son here, for your country, since you yourself are calling on fate.

Creon
[915] What do you mean? What is this you have said, old man?

Teiresias
I have said what is, and you must do it.

Creon
O great evil, spoken so briefly!

Teiresias
Evil to you, but to your country great salvation.

Creon
I did not hear; I never listened; I renounce my city!

Teiresias
[920] The man is no longer himself; he is drawing back.

Creon
Go in peace; it is not your prophecy I need.

Teiresias
Is truth dead, because you are unfortunate?

Creon
By your knees and gray hair—

Teiresias
Why implore me? You are demanding evils that are hard to prevent.

Creon
[925] Be silent; do not tell the city your news.

Teiresias
You bid me to act unjustly; I cannot be silent.

Creon
What will you do to me? Kill my child?

Teiresias
That is for others to decide; it is for me to speak.

Creon
How did this curse come on me and my son?

Teiresias
[930] You do right to ask me and to test what I have said. In the chamber where the earth-born dragon kept watch over Dirce's springs, he must be offered as a sacrifice and shed his blood on the ground, a libation of Cadmus, because of the ancient wrath of Ares, [935] who now avenges the slaughter of his earth-born snake. If you do this, you shall win Ares as an ally. If the earth receives fruit for fruit and human blood for blood, you shall find her kind to you again, who once [940] sent up to us a crop of Sown-men with golden helmets; for one of those born from the dragon's teeth must die.

Now you are our only survivor of the Sown race, pure-blooded both on your mother's and your father's side, you and your sons. Haemon's marriage [945] holds him back from the slaughter, for he is no longer single; even if he has not consummated his marriage, yet he is betrothed. But this tender youth, consecrated to his city, might by dying rescue his country; and bitter will he make the return of Adrastus and his Argives, [950] flinging over their eyes a black spirit of death, and he will glorify Thebes. Choose one of these two destinies: either save the city or your son.

Now you have all that I had to say. Daughter, lead me home. The man who practices the prophet's art [955] is a fool; for if he happens to give an adverse answer, he makes himself disliked by those for whom he takes the omens; while if he pities and deceives those who are consulting him, he wrongs the gods. Phoebus should have been man's only prophet, for he fears no one.His daughter leads Teiresias out.

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    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Syntax of Classical Greek, The Article
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