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Mother, why do you weep, drawing over your eyes your veil? Is it because you heard their piteous lamentations? It goes to my own heart as well. Raise your silvered head, do not weep [290] where you sit at the holy altar of Demeter.


It is not for you to lament their sorrows.

You hapless women!

You are not of their company.

May I say something, my son, a glory to you and to the city?

Yes, for often even from women come wise counsels.

[295] Yet the word, that lurks within my heart, makes me hesitate.

Shame! to hide from friends good counsel.

No then, I will not hold my peace to blame myself afterwards for having now kept silence to my shame, nor will I forego my honorable proposal, from the common fear [300] that it is useless for women to give good advice. First, my son, I exhort you to give good heed to heaven's will, lest from slighting it you fall; for in this one single point you fall, though well-advised in all else. Further, I would have patiently endured, had it not been my duty [305] to be bold for injured people; and this, my son, it is that brings you now your honor, and causes me no fear to urge that you should use your power to make men of violence, who prevent the dead from receiving their share of burial and funeral rites, [310] perform this duty, and check those who would confound the customs of all Hellas; for this it is that holds men's states together—strict observance of the laws. And some, no doubt, will say it was cowardice made you stand aloof in terror, [315] when you might have won for your city a crown of glory, and, though you encountered a savage swine, laboring for a sorry task, yet when the time came for you to face the helmet and pointed spear, and do your best, you were found to be coward. [320] No! do not do so if you are indeed my son. Do you see how fiercely your country looks on its revilers when they mock her for want of counsel? Yes, for in her toils she grows greater. But states whose policy is dark and cautious [325] have their sight darkened by their carefulness. My son, will you not go help the dead and these poor women in their need? I have no fears for you, starting as you do with right upon your side; and although I see the prosperity of Callmus' folk, [330] still I am confident they will hurl a different cast of the dice; for the god reverses all things again.

Chorus Leader
Ah! best of friends, you have pleaded well for me and for Adrastus, and so my joy is doubled.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 513-862
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