Oedipus Tyrannus Monologue
|Oedipus Tyrannus Monologue by Sophocles|
- OEDIPUS: Your prayers are heard: and if you will obey
- Your king, and hearken to his words, you soon
- Shall find relief; myself will heal your woes.
- I was a stranger to the dreadful deed,
- A stranger e'en to the report till now;
- And yet without some traces of the crime
- I should not urge this matter; therefore hear me.
- I speak to all the citizens of Thebes,
- Myself a citizen--observe me well:
- If any know the murderer of Laius,
- Let him reveal it; I command you all.
- But if restrained by dread punishment
- He hide the secret, let him fear no more;
- For naught but exile shall attend the crime
- Whene'er confessed; if by a foreign hand
- The horrid deed was done, who points him out
- Commands our thanks, and meets a sure reward;
- But if there be who knows the murderer,
- And yet conceals him from us, mark his fate,
- Which here I do pronounce: Let none receive
- Throughout my kingdom, none hold converse with him,
- Nor offer prayer, nor sprinkle o'er his head
- The sacred cup; let him be driven from all,
- By all abandoned, and by all accursed,
- For so the Delphic oracle declared;
- And therefore to the gods I pay this duty
- And to the dead. Oh! may the guilty wretch,
- Whether alone, or by his impious friends
- Assisted, he performed the horrid deed,
- Denied the common benefits of Nature,
- Wear out a painful life! And oh! if here,
- Within my palace, I conceal the traitor,
- On me and mine alight the vengeful curse!
- To you, my people, I commit the care
- Of this important business; 'tis my cause,
- The cause of Heaven, and your expiring country.
- E'en if the god had naught declared, to leave
- This crime unexpiated were most ungrateful.
- He was the best of kings, the best of men;
- That sceptre now is mine which Laius bore;
- His wife is mine; so would his children be
- Did any live; and therefore I am bound,
- E'en as he were my father, to revenge him.
- Yes, I will try to find his murderer,
- I owe it to the son of Labdacus,
- To Polydorus, Cadmus, and the race
- Of great Agenor. Oh! if yet there are,
- Who will not join me in the pious deed,
- From such may earth withhold her annual store,
- And barren be their bed, their life most wretched,
- And their death cruel as the pestilence
- That wastes our city! But on you, my Thebans,
- Who wish us fair success, may justice smile
- Propitious, and the gods forever bless!
Credits: Reprinted from Greek Dramas. Ed. Bernadotte Perrin. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1904.