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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Euripides' PHOENISSAE Complete

Translated by E. Coleridge.

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Jocasta: O sun-god, who cleavest thy way along the starry sky, mounted
on golden-studded car, rolling on thy path of flame behind fleet coursers,
how curst the beam thou didst shed on Thebes, the day that Cadmus
left Phoenicia's realm beside the sea and reached this land! He it
was that in days long gone wedded Harmonia, the daughter of Cypris,
and begat Polydorus from whom they say sprung Labdacus, and Laius
from him. I am known as the daughter of Menoeceus, and Creon is my
brother by the same mother. Men called me Jocasta, for so my father
named me, and I am married to Laius. Now when he was still childless
after being wedded to me a long time, he went and questioned Phoebus,
craving moreover that our love might be crowned with sons born to
his house. But the god said, "King of Thebes for horses famed! seek
not to beget children against the will of heaven; for if thou beget
a son, that child shall slay thee, and all thy house shall wade through
blood." But he, yielding to his lust in a drunken fit, begat a son
of me, and when his babe was born, conscious of his sin and of the
god's warning, he gave the child to shepherds to expose in Hera's
meadow on mount Cithaeron, after piercing his ankles with iron spikes;
whence it was that Hellas named him Oedipus. But the keepers of the
horses of Polybus finding him took him home and laid him in the arms
of their mistress. So she suckled the child that I had borne and persuaded
her husband she was its mother. Soon as my son was grown to man's
estate, the tawny beard upon his cheek, either because he had guessed
the fraud or learnt it from another, he set out for the shrine of
Phoebus, eager to know for certain who his parents were; and likewise
Laius, my husband, was on his way thither, anxious to find out if
the child he had exposed was dead. And they twain met where the branching
roads to Phocis unite; and the charioteer of Laius called to him,
"Out of the way, stranger, room for my lord!" But he, with never a
word, strode on in his pride; and the horses with their hoofs drew
blood from the tendons of his feet.

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