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The Seven Against Thebes Monologue

The Seven Against Thebes Monologue by Aeschylus
Character: Eteocles
Gender: Male
Age (range): ?
Style: Classical
Length: 5 minutes

 

ETEOCLES Burghers of Cadmos, timely words beseem
Him at the stern who guards the city's weal,
Guiding the helm with lids unsoothed by sleep;
For, if we prosper, God alone is praised,
But if, which Heaven forfend, mischance befall,
One man, Eteocles, through all the town,
In noiseful rhymes and wailings manifold
Would by the folk be chanted; which may Zeus,
True to his sacred name, Averter, turn
From our Cadmeian city; you meanwhile
It now behoveth--him alike who fails
Of youth's fair prime, and him whose bloom is past,
Yet nursing still his body's stalwart strength,
And each one grown to manhood, as befits--
The State to aid and shrines of native gods,
That ne'er their homes be erased; to aid
Your children too, and this your mother earth,
Beloved nurse, who, while your childish limbs
Crept on her friendly plain, all nurture-toil
Full kindly entertained, and fostered you
Her denizens to be, in strait like this
Shield-bearing champions, trusty in her cause.
And so far, to the present day, in sooth
God in our favour hath inclined the scale;
For unto us, so long beleaguered here,
War prospers in the main, through heaven's high will;--
But now, so speaks the seer, augur divine,
Without fire omens, but in ear and mind
Marking, with faultless skill, presageful birds,--
He, lord of these divining arts, declares
That the prime onset of the Achaian host,
Night-plotted, threatens even now the town;
Haste, to the turrets then and bastion-gates
Rush in full panoply;--the breastwork throng,
Take station on the platforms of the towers,
And, biding at the outlets of the ports,
Be of good courage, nor this alien swarm
Dread over-much; God will rule all for good.
Myself have scouts sent forth and army spies,
Who, as I trust, no bootless journey make;
And having heard their tidings, in no wise
Shall I by guileful stratagem be caught.

Credits: Reprinted from The Dramas of Aeschylus. Trans. Anna Swanwick. London: George Bell and Sons, 1907.