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Feel sure, daughter of Oedipus, that we pity you and him alike [255] for your misfortune; but dreading the punishment of the gods, we could not say anything beyond what we have now said to you.

What help comes, then, of repute or fair fame, if it ends in idle breath; [260] seeing that Athens, as men say, is god-fearing beyond all, and alone has the power to shelter the outraged stranger, and alone the power to help him? And where are these things for me, when, after making me rise up from this rocky seat, you then drive me from the land, afraid of my name alone? [265] Not, surely, afraid of my person or of my acts; since my acts, at least, have been in suffering rather than doing—if I must mention the tale of my mother and my father, because of which you fear me. That know I full well. [270] And yet how was I innately evil? I, who was merely requiting a wrong, so that, had I been acting with knowledge, even then I could not be accounted evil. But, as it was, all unknowing I went where I went—while they who wronged me knowingly sought my ruin. [275] Therefore, strangers, I beseech you by the gods: just as you made me leave my seat, so protect me, and do not, while you render honor to the gods, consider those gods to be fools. But rather consider that they look on the god-fearing man [280] and on the godless, and that never yet has an impious man found escape. With the help of those gods, do not becloud the prosperity of Athens by paying service to unholy deeds. As you have received the suppliant under your pledge, [285] rescue me and guard me to the end; nor dishonor me when you look on this face unlovely to behold, for I have come to you as one sacred and pious, bearing comfort for this people. But when the master has come, [290] whoever is your leader, then you will hear and know all; meanwhile show yourselves in no way evil.

The thoughts you urge, old man, must move awe; they have been set forth in grave words. [295] But I am content that the rulers of our country should judge in this case.

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load focus Notes (Sir Richard C. Jebb, 1899)
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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 307
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Philoctetes, 560
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