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[170] Who is at the gates? Call from the house Kadmos, son of Agenor, who leaving the city of Sidon built this towering city of the Thebans. Let someone go and announce that Teiresias is looking for him. He knows why I have come and [175] what agreement I, an old man, have made with him, older still: to twine the thyrsoi, to wear fawn-skins, and to crown our heads with ivy branches.

Dearest friend, for inside the house I heard and recognized your wise voice, the voice of a wise man; [180] I have come prepared with this equipment of the god. For we must extol him, the child of my daughter, [Dionysus, who has appeared as a god to men] as much as is in our power. Where must I dance, where set my feet [185] and shake my grey head? Show me the way, Teiresias, one old man leading another; for you are wise. And so I shall never tire night or day striking the ground with the thyrsos. Gladly I have forgotten that I am old.

Then you and I have the same feelings, [190] for I too feel young and will try to dance.

Then will we go to the mountain in a chariot?

But then the god would not have equal honor.

I, an old man, will lead you, an old man, like a pupil.

The god will lead us there without trouble.

[195] Are we the only ones in the city who will dance in Bacchus' honor?

Yes, for we alone think rightly, the rest wrongly.

The delay is long; come, take hold of my hand.

Here, take hold, and join your hand with mine.

Having been born mortal I do not scorn the gods.

[200] We mortals have no cleverness in the eyes of the the gods.1 Our ancestral traditions, and those which we have held throughout our lives, no argument will overturn, not even if some craftiness should be discovered by the depths of our wits. 2 Will anyone say that I do not respect old age, [205] being about to dance with my head covered in ivy? No, for the god has made no distinction as to whether it is right for men young or old to dance, but wishes to have common honors from all and to be extolled, setting no one apart.

[210] Since you do not see this light, Teiresias, I will be your interpreter. Pentheus, child of Echion, to whom I gave control of this land, is coming here to the house now in haste. How fluttered he is! What new matter will he tell us?

1 Dodds admits that the text, as it appears in Murray, should be translated this way, but feels that the line should mean “nor do we use cleverness on the gods” or something similar. He argues for another reading that would allow this.

2 This translation, though literal, fudges on the meaning: a)krai\ fre/nes must mean something like “best” or “most subtle minds.”

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 513-862
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