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Enter a Scout.

Eteocles, mighty prince of the Cadmeans, [40] I have returned with a sure report of the army outside the walls; I myself am an eyewitness of their actions. Seven warriors, fierce regiment-commanders, slaughtered a bull over a black shield, and then touching the bull's gore with their hands they swore an oath [45] by Ares, by Enyo,1 and by Rout who delights in blood, that either they will level the city and sack the Cadmeans' town by force, or will in death smear this soil with their blood. And on Adrastus' chariot they were placing remembrances of themselves [50] for their parents at home, and were shedding tears while so doing, but no piteous wailing escaped their lips. For their iron- hearted spirit heaved, blazing with courage, as of lions with war in their eyes. Your knowledge of these things was not delayed by fearfulness; [55] for I left them casting lots to decide how each commander, his post assigned by chance, would lead his regiment against the gates. Therefore, choose the bravest men of the city and station them quickly at the outlets of the gates. For nearby already the Argive army in full armor [60] is advancing in a flurry of dust, and glistening foam splatters the plain in drops from the horses' pantings. So you, like the careful helmsman of a ship, secure the city before Ares' blasts storm down upon it; for the wave of their army now crashes over the dry land. [65] Seize the first opportune moment for doing this. For all else, I, on my part, will keep a reliable eye on the lookout, and you, by learning from my certain report what happens beyond the gates, shall remain unharmed.Exit.

O Zeus and Earth, and gods that guard our city, [70] and Curse,2 potent agent of my father's vengeance, do not destroy my city, ripping it up from its foundations, captive of the enemy, a city that speaks in Greece's tongue, and do not destroy our hearths and homes. [75] May they never hold the free land and city of Cadmus beneath the yoke of slavery! Be our protection! I am certain that what I ask is in our common interest; for a State that prospers pays honors to its gods.Exit Eteocles, with citizens. The Chorus enters in fearful agitation.

1 Enyo is a personification of war, and hence sometimes called the mother or the daughter of Ares.

2 The curse pronounced by Oedipus against his two sons (cp. 785 ff.) is a daemonic power, here identified with the vengeance it calls into being.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 1110-1185
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