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The Scout is seen approaching from one side; Eteocles from the other.

The scout, I believe, [370] is bringing some fresh news of the army to us, my friends, since the joints of his legs are hastily speeding as they carry him on his mission.

And, indeed, here is our lord himself, the son of Oedipus, at the right moment to hear the messenger's report. Haste makes his stride uneven, too.

[375] It is with certain knowledge that I will give my account of the enemy's actions, how each man according to lot has been posted at the gates. Tydeus is already storming opposite the Proetid gates; but the seer will not allow him to ford the Ismenus because the omens from the sacrifices are not favorable. [380] Yet Tydeus, raging and eager for battle, shouts like a serpent hissing at high noon, and lashes skilled Oecles' son, with the taunt that he cringes in cowardice before death and battle. With such cries he shakes three overshadowing plumes, [385] his helmet's mane, while from under his shield, bells forged of bronze therein ring out a fearsome clang. He has this haughty symbol on his shield: a well-crafted sky, ablaze with stars, and the brightness of the full moon shining in the center of the shield, [390] the moon that is the most revered of the stars, the eye of night. Raving so in his arrogant armor, he shouts beside the river-bank, craving battle, like some charger that fiercely champs at the bit as he waits in eagerness for the trumpet's war-cry. [395] Whom will you send against him? Who will be capable of standing as our champion at the Proetid gate when its bars are loosened?

I would not tremble before any mere ornaments on a man. Nor can signs and symbols wound and kill—crests and bell have no bite without the spear. [400] And regarding this "night" which you describe on his shield, sparkling with heaven's stars—perhaps the folly of it might yield to one some prophetic understanding. For should night fall on this man's eyes as he dies, then to its bearer this arrogant symbol [405] would prove rightly and justly named; and it is against himself that he will have prophesied this outrageous violence. Now as for me, against Tydeus I will station the trusty son of Astacus as defender of this gate, since he is full noble and [410] reveres the throne of Honor and detests proud speech. He is slow to act disgracefully, and he has no cowardly nature. His race springs from the men sown of the dragon's teeth, from one of those whom Ares spared, and so Melanippus is truly born of our land. Ares will decide the outcome with a throw of the dice; [415] but Justice, his kin by blood, indeed sends this man forth to keep the enemy spear from the mother that gave him birth.Exit Melanippus.

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