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Go, triflers, learn the lesson of human misery; [550] our life is made up of struggles; there are some men that find their fortune soon, others have to wait, while some at once are blessed. Fortune lives a dainty life; to her the wretched pays his court and homage to win her smile; her likewise the prosperous man extols, for fear the favoring gale [555] may leave him. These lessons we should take to heart, to bear with moderation, free from wrath, our wrongs, and do nothing to hurt a whole city. What then? Let us, who wish to perform the pious deed, bury the corpses of the slain. [560] Or else the issue is clear; I will go and bury them by force. For never shall it be proclaimed through Hellas that the ancient law of the gods was set at nothing, when it devolved on me and the city of Pandion.

Chorus Leader
Be of good cheer; for if you preserve the light of justice, [565] you shall escape many a charge that men might urge.

Theban Herald
Do you want me to tell my story briefly?

Theseus
Say what you will; for you are not silent as it is.

Theban Herald
You shall never take the sons of Argos from our land.

Theseus
Hear, then, my answer too to that, if you wish.

Theban Herald
[570] I will hear you; not that I wish it, but I must give you your turn.

Theseus
I will bury the dead, when I have removed them from Asopus' land.

Theban Herald
First you must run a risk in the front of war.

Theseus
Many an enterprise and of a different kind have I endured before this.

Theban Herald
Were you then begotten by your father to cope with every foe?

Theseus
[575] Yes, with all wanton villains; virtue I do not punish.

Theban Herald
To meddle is always your custom, and your city's too.

Theseus
And so her enterprise on many a field has won her many blessings.

Theban Herald
Come then, that the warriors of the dragon-crop may catch you in our city.

Theseus
What furious warrior-army could spring from dragon's seed?

Theban Herald
[580] You shall learn that to your cost. As yet you are young and rash.

Theseus
Your boastful speech does not stir my heart at all to rage. Yet leave the land, taking with you the idle words you brought; for we are making no advance.

The Theban Herald withdraws.
It is time for all to start, [585] each hoplite, and whoever mounts the chariot; it is time the bit, dripping with foam, should urge the steed on toward the Cadmeian land. For I will march in person to the seven gates of Cadmus [590] with the sharp sword in my hand, and be myself my herald. But you, Adrastus, I bid stay, do not blend with mine your fate, for I with my own good fortune will take command, a new leader with a new army. One thing alone I need, the favor of all gods that reverence right, for the presence of these things [595] insures victory. For their valor avails men nothing, unless they have the god's good will.Theseus and his retinue depart.

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