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Such is the general men should choose, one who shows his bravery in danger, yet hates the pride of those that in their hour of fortune lose the bliss they might have enjoyed, [730] through seeking to scale the ladder's topmost step.

Chorus Leader
Now I believe in the gods after seeing this unexpected day, and I feel my woes are lighter now that these men have paid their penalty.

Adrastus
O Zeus, why is it that men assert the wisdom of the wretched [735] human race? On you we depend, and we do whatever you may wish. We thought our Argos irresistible, ourselves a young and lusty army, and so when Eteocles was for making terms, [740] in spite of his fair offer we would not accept them, and so we perished. Then in their turn those foolish folk of Cadmus, to fortune raised, like some beggar with his newly-gotten wealth, became wantonly violent, and in their violence were ruined in their turn. O you who strain your bow [745] beyond the mark; you foolish sons of men, only by suffering many evils as you deserve, though deaf to friends, yet you yield to circumstances; you cities likewise, though you might by parley end your ills, yet you choose the sword instead of reason to settle disputes. [750] But why these reflections? This I would learn, the way you escaped; and after that I will ask you of the rest.

Messenger
While the tumult of war shook the city, I passed the gates, just as the army had entered them.

Adrastus
Are you bringing the bodies, for which the strife arose?

Messenger
Yes, each of the seven chiefs of famous homes.

Adrastus
[755] What do you mean? The rest who fell—where are they?

Messenger
They have found burial in the dells of Cithaeron.

Adrastus
On this or that side of the mountain? And who buried them?

Messenger
Theseus buried them beneath the shadow of Eleutherae's cliff.

Adrastus
[760] Where did you leave the dead he has not buried?

Messenger
Nearby; earnest haste makes every goal look close.

Adrastus
No doubt in sorrow slaves would gather them from the carnage?

Messenger
Slaves! not one of them was set to do this toil.

Adrastus
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Messenger
You would say so, had you been there to see his loving tendance of the dead.

Adrastus
[765] Did he himself wash the bloody wounds of the hapless men?

Messenger
Yes, and strewed their biers and wrapped them in their shrouds.

Adrastus
A dreadful burden this, involving some disgrace.

Messenger
Why, what disgrace to men are their fellows' sorrows?

Adrastus
Ah me! how much rather had I died with them!

Messenger
[770] It is in vain to weep and move to tears these women.

Adrastus
I think it is they who give the lesson. Enough of that! My hands I lift at meeting of the dead, and pour forth a tearful dirge to Hades, calling on my friends, whose loss [775] I mourn in wretched solitude; for this one thing, when once it is spent, man cannot recover, the breath of life, though he knows ways to get his wealth again.

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