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The first messenger enters.

Ho there! Who is at the palace-gates? Open the door, summon Jocasta forth. Ho there! once again I call; in spite of this long delay, [1070] come forth; listen, noble wife of Oedipus, cease your lamentation and your tears of woe.

Jocasta enters from the palace in answer to his call.

Surely you have not come, dear friend, with the sad news of Eteocles' death, beside whose shield you have always marched, warding off from him the enemy's darts? [1075] [What tidings are you here to bring me?] Is my son alive or dead? Tell me.

He is alive, do not fear that, so that I may rid you of your terror.

Well? How is it with the seven towers that wall us in?

They stand unshattered; the city is not plundered.

[1080] Have they been in jeopardy of the Argive spear?

Yes, on the very brink; but our Theban warriors proved stronger than Mycenae's might.

One thing tell me, by the gods, if you know anything of Polyneices; for this too is my concern, if he is alive.

[1085] As yet your sons are living, the pair of them.

God bless you! How did you succeed in beating off from our gates the Argive army, when beleaguered? Tell me, so that I may go within and cheer the old blind man, since our city is still safe.


[1090] After Creon's son, who gave up his life for his country, had taken his stand on the turret's top and plunged a dark-hilted sword through his throat to save this land, your son told off seven companies with their captains to the seven gates to keep watch on the Argive warriors, [1095] and stationed cavalry to cover cavalry, and infantry to support infantry, so that assistance might be close at hand for any weak point in the walls. Then from our lofty towers we saw the Argive army with their white shields leaving [1100] Teumesus, and, when near the trench, they charged up to our Theban city at a run. In one loud burst from their ranks and from our walls rang out the battle-cry and trumpet-call.

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