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Enter Theseus.

[1500] What din is this that once more rings forth from you all, from my people as clearly as from the stranger? Can a thunderbolt from Zeus be the cause, or rushing hail in its fierce onset? When the god sends such a storm, forebodings of every sort may find a place.

[1505] Lord, you have appeared at my desire, and to you some god granted noble fortune at this coming.

And what new thing has now occurred, son of Laius?

My life hangs in the balance; and I wish to die without cheating you and this city of the promises I made.

[1510] And what is the proof of your fate that you depend on?

The gods themselves herald the news to me, nor do they cheat me of any of the appointed signs.

What makes these things clear? Tell me, old man.

The thunder, crash after crash; the lightning, flash after flash, [1515] hurled from the unconquered hand.

I am persuaded, for in much I find you a prophet whose voice is not false. Then say what must be done.

I will expound myself, son of Aegeus, the treasures which will be laid up for this city, such as age can never hurt. [1520] Immediately, with no hand to guide me, I will lead to the place where I must die. But as to that place, never reveal it to another man, neither where it is hidden, nor in what region it lies, so that it may be an eternal defence for you, better than many shields, better than the spear of neighbors which brings relief. [1525] But as for mysteries which speech may not profane, you will learn them yourself when you come to that place alone, since I cannot declare them either to any of these people, or even to my own children, though I love them. [1530] Reserve them always to yourself, and when you reach the end of life, reveal them to your eldest son alone, and let him reveal them to his successor in turn forever. In this way you will keep this city unscathed by the men born of the Dragon's teeth. Countless cities commit outrage [1535] even though their neighbor commits no sin. For the gods are slow to punish, yet they are sure, when men scorn holiness and turn to frenzy. Do not desire this, son of Aegeus! But you know such things as these without my teaching. [1540] Let us now set forth to that place—the divine summons urges me—and hesitate no longer.

Children, follow me. For now in turn it is I that shine forth wondrously as a leader for you, as you were your father's. Onward. Do not touch me, but [1545] allow me unaided to find the sacred tomb where it is my fate to be buried in this land. This way, here—come this way! Hermes the Conductor and the goddess of the dead lead me in this direction. Light of day, no light to me, once you were mine, [1550] but now my body feels you for the last time! For now I go to hide the end of my life in the house of Hades. But you, dearest of strangers, may you yourself be prosperous, and this land, and your followers. In your prosperity, [1555] remember me in my death, and be fortunate evermore.He exits, followed by his daughters, Theseus, and attendants.

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    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus at Colonus, 13
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