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Not a word would Creon let his herald answer back, but there he stood in silence under arms. Then the drivers of the four-horse chariots [675] began the battle; on past each other they drove their chariots, bringing the warriors at their sides up into line. Some fought with swords, some wheeled the horses back to combat again for those they drove. [680] Now when Phorbas, who captained the cavalry of the Erechtheidae, saw the thronging chariots, he and they who had the charge of the Theban horse met hand to hand, and by turns were victors and vanquished. The many horrors happening there I saw, not merely heard about, for I was at the spot [685] where the chariots and their riders met and fought, but which to tell of first I do not know: should it be the clouds of dust that mounted to the sky, or the men dragged this way and that in the reins, [690] and the streams of crimson gore, when men fell dead, or when, from shattered chariot-seats, they tumbled headlong to the ground, and, amid the splinters of their chariots, gave up the ghost? But Creon, when he marked our cavalry's success on one wing, [695] caught up a shield and rushed into the fray, before despondency should seize his allies. The whole army clashed together in the middle, [700] dealing death and courting it, shouting loudly to each other the battle-cry: “Slay, and set your spear firmly against the sons of Erechtheus.” But not for that did Theseus recoil in fear; no! snatching up at once his glittering armor he rushed on. Fierce foes to cope with were the warriors whom the dragon's teeth reared to manhood; for they broke [705] our left wing, but theirs was routed by our right and put to flight, so that the struggle was evenly balanced. Here again our chief deserved praise, for this success was not the only one he gained; no! next he sought that part of his army which was wavering; [710] and loud he called to them, that the earth rang again, “My sons, if you cannot restrain the earth-born warriors' stubborn spear, the cause of Pallas is lost.” And courage arose in all the army of Cranaus. Then he seized a fearsome club, weapon of Epidaurian warfare, [715] and using it like a sling, he tore apart necks and covered heads at once, reaping and snapping off helmets with the cudgel. Scarcely even then they turned themselves to fly. I cried aloud for joy, and danced [720] and clapped my hands. But they ran to the gates. Throughout the town echoed the shrieks of young and old, as they crowded the temples in terror. But Theseus, when he might have come inside the walls, held back his men; for he had not come, he said, [725] to sack the town, but to ask for the bodies of the dead.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 193
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