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True image of the ways of Egypt that they show in their spirit and their life! For there the men sit weaving in the house, [340] but the wives go forth to win the daily bread. And in your case, my daughters, those to whom these toils belonged keep the house at home like maidens, while you two, in their place, bear your poor father's woes. [345] The one, from the time when her youth was past and she came into her strength, has always been this old man's guide in weary wanderings, often roaming, hungry and barefoot, through the wild woods, often battered by rains and scorching sun. [350] And the comforts of home, poor girl, she holds in the second place, so long as her father should have her care. And you, my child, in former days came forth, bringing your father, unknown to the Cadmeans, all the oracles that had been given concerning Oedipus. [355] You became a faithful guardian on my behalf, when I was being driven from the land. Now, in turn, what new tidings have you brought your father, Ismene? On what mission have you set forth from home? For you do not come empty-handed, I know well, [360] or without some cause of fear for me.

The sufferings that I bore, father, in seeking where you dwelt, I will pass by; I would not renew the pain in the recital. [365] But the evils that now beset your ill-fated sons—it is of these that I have come to tell. At first it was their decision that the throne should be left to Creon, and the city spared pollution, when they thought calmly about the ancient blight on our race, [370] and how it has clung to your unfortunate house. But now, moved by some god and by sinful heart, an evil strife has seized them—thrice-deluded!—to grasp at rule and the power of a tyrant. And the younger son has stripped the elder, Polyneices, of the throne, [375] and has driven him from his fatherland. But he, as the widespread rumor says among us, has gone to the valley of Argos as an exile, and is taking to himself a new marriage connection, and warriors for his friends, intending that Argos soon get hold of the Cadmean land, [380] or send its praises to the sky. These are not empty words, my father, but terrible deeds; and where the gods will have pity on your grief, I cannot tell.

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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 62
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 1206
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