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At once, the two sons of the old Oedipus were hiding themselves in bronze armor; and lords of Thebes with friendly care equipped the captain of this land, [1245] while Argive chieftains armed the other. There they stood dazzling, nor were they pale, all eagerness to hurl their lances at each other. Then their friends came to their sides first one, then another, with words of encouragement, saying: [1250] “Polyneices, it rests with you to set up an image of Zeus as a trophy and crown Argos with fair renown.” Others to Eteocles: “Now you are fighting for your city; now, if victorious, you have the scepter in your power.” So they spoke, cheering them to the battle. [1255] The seers were sacrificing sheep and noting the tongues and forks of fire, the damp reek which is a bad omen, and the tapering flame which gives decisions on two points, being both a sign of victory and defeat.

But, if you have any power or subtle speech [1260] or charmed spell, go, restrain your children from this terrible combat, for great is the risk they run. The prize of the contest will be grievous sorrow for you, if to-day you are deprived of both your sons.The messenger departs in haste as Antigone comes out of the palace.

Jocasta
Antigone, my daughter, come out of the house; [1265] this heaven-sent crisis is no time for dances or girlish pursuits. But you and your mother must prevent two brave men, your own brothers, from plunging into death and falling by each other's hand.

Antigone
[1270] Mother, what new terror are you proclaiming to your friends before the palace?

Jocasta
Daughter, your brothers' lives are going to ruin.

Antigone
What do you mean?

Jocasta
They have resolved on single combat.

Antigone
Oh no! what do you have to say, mother?

Jocasta
No welcome news; follow me.

Antigone
[1275] Where, away from my maiden's chamber?

Jocasta
To the army.

Antigone
I cannot face the crowd.

Jocasta
Modesty is not for you now.

Antigone
But what shall I do?

Jocasta
You will put an end to your brothers' strife.

Antigone
How so, mother?

Jocasta
By falling at their knees with me.

Antigone
Lead on till we are between the armies; we must not delay.

Jocasta
[1280] Haste, my daughter, haste! For, if I can forestall the onset of my sons, I may yet live; but if they are dead, I will lie down in death with them.Jocasta and Antigone hurriedly depart.

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