Oedipus Tyrannus Monologue
|Oedipus Tyrannus Monologue by Sophocles|
- OEDIPUS: I am the son of Polybus, who reigns
- At Corinth, and the Dorian Merope
- His queen; there long I held the foremost rank,
- Honoured and happy, when a strange event
- (For strange it was, though little meriting
- The deep concern I felt) alarmed me much:
- A drunken reveller at a feast proclaimed
- That I was only the supposed son
- Or Corinth's king. Scarce could I bear that day
- The vile reproach. The next, I sought my parents
- And asked of them the truth; they too, enraged,
- Resented much the base indignity.
- I liked their tender warmth, but still I felt
- A secret anguish, and, unknown to them,
- Sought out the Pythian oracle. In vain.
- Touching my parents nothing could I learn;
- But dreadful were the miseries it denounced
- Against me. 'Twas my fate, Apollo said,
- To wed my mother, to produce a race
- Accursed and abhorred; and last, to slay
- My father who begat me. Sad decree!
- Lest I should e'er fulfil the dire prediction,
- Instant I fled from Corinth, by the stars
- Guiding my hapless journey to the place
- Where thou report'st this wretched king was slain.
- But I will tell thee the whole truth. At length
- I came to where the three ways meet, when, lo!
- A herald, with another man like him
- Whom thou describ'st, and in a chariot, met me.
- Both strove with violence to drive me back;
- Enraged, I struck the charioteer, when straight,
- As I advanced, the old man saw, and twice
- Smote me o' th' head, but dearly soon repaid
- The insult on me; from his chariot rolled
- Prone on the earth, beneath my staff he fell,
- And instantly expired! Th' attendant train
- All shared his fate. If this unhappy stranger
- And Laius be the same, lives there a wretch
- So cursed, so hateful to the gods as I am?
- Nor citizen nor alien must receive,
- Or converse, or communion hold with me,
- But drive me forth with infamy and shame.
- The dreadful curse pronounced with my own lips
- Shall soon o'ertake me. I have stained the bed
- Of him whom I had murdered; am I then
- Aught but pollution? If I fly from hence,
- The bed of incest meets me, and I go
- To slay my father Polybus, the best,
- The tenderest parent. This must be the work
- Of some malignant power. Ye righteous gods!
- Let me not see that day, but rest in death,
- Rather than suffer such calamity.
Credits: Reprinted from Greek Dramas. Ed. Bernadotte Perrin. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1904.