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Priest of Zeus
Oedipus, ruler of my land, you see the age of those who sit [15] on your altars—some, nestlings still too tender for flight, others, bowed with age, priests, like me of Zeus, and some, these here, the chosen youth. The rest of the folk sit [20] with wreathed branches in the market-place, and before the shrines of Pallas, and where Ismenus gives answer by fire. For the city, as you yourself see, is now sorely vexed, and can no longer lift her head from beneath the angry waves of death. [25] A blight has fallen on the fruitful blossoms of the land, the herds among the pastures, the barren pangs of women. And the flaming god, the malign plague, has swooped upon us, and ravages the town: he lays waste to the house of Cadmus, but enriches Hades with [30] groans and tears. It is not because we rank you with the gods that I and these children are suppliants at your hearth, but because we deem you the first among men in life's common fortunes and in dealings with the divinities: [35] when you came to the city of the Cadmeans, you freed us from the tax that we rendered to the hard songstress, and that when you knew no more than anyone else, nor had you been taught, but rather by the assistance of a god, as the story goes, you uplifted our life. [40] Now, Oedipus, king glorious in our eyes, we, your suppliants, beseech you to find some defence for us, whether you hear it from some divine omen, or learn of it from some mortal. For I see that the outcome of the councils of experienced men [45] most often have effect. On, best of mortals, uplift our state! On, guard your fame, since now this land calls you savior on account of your former zeal. Let us not remember of your reign that [50] we were first restored and then cast down: lift this state so that it falls no more! With good omen you provided us that past happiness: show yourself the same now too, since if you are to rule this land just as you do now, it is better to be lord of men than of a wasteland. [55] Neither walled town nor ship is anything, if it is empty and no men dwell within.

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