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Oedipus At Colonos
by [?]

Edited and translated by Lewis Campbell, M.A.


OEDIPUS, old and blind.
ANTIGONE, his daughter, a young girl.
ISMENE, his daughter, a young girl.
CHORUS of Village Guardians.
An Athenian.
THESEUS, King of Athens.
CREON, Envoy from Thebes.
POLYNICES, the elder son of Oedipus.

. Colonos.

Oedipus had remained at Thebes for some time after his fall. But he was afterwards banished by the command of Creon, with the consent of his own sons. Their intention at first was to lay no claim to the throne. But by-and-by ambition prevailed with Eteocles, the younger- born, and he persuaded Creon and the citizens to banish his elder brother. Polynices took refuge at Argos, where he married the daughter of Adrastus, and levied an army of auxiliaries to support his pretensions to the throne of Thebes. Before going into exile Oedipus had cursed his sons.

Antigone after a while fled forth to join her father and support him in his wanderings. Ismene also once brought him secret intelligence.

Years have now elapsed, and the Delphian oracle proclaims that if Oedipus dies in a foreign land the enemies of Thebes shall overcome her.

In ignorance of this fact, Oedipus, now aged as well as blind, and led by his daughter Antigone, appears before the grove of the Eumenides, at Colonos, in the neighbourhood of Athens. He has felt an inward intimation, which is strengthened by some words of the oracle received by him long since at Delphi, that his involuntary crimes have been atoned for, and that the Avenging Deities will now receive him kindly and make his cause their own.

After some natural hesitation on the part of the village-councillors of Colonos, Oedipus is received with princely magnanimity by THESEUS, who takes him under the protection of Athens, and defends him against the machinations of Creon.

Thus the blessing of the Gods, which Oedipus carried with him, is secured to Athens, and denied to Thebes. The craft of Creon and the prayers of Polynices alike prove unavailing. Then the man of many sorrows, whose essential nobleness has survived them all, passes away mysteriously from the sight of men.

The scene is laid at Colonos, a suburb of Athens much frequented by the upper classes, especially the Knights (see Thuc. viii. 67); and before the sacred grove of the Eumenides, or Gentle Goddesses, a euphemistic title for the Erinyes, or Goddesses of Vengeance.



Antigone, child of the old blind sire,
What land is here, what people? Who to-day
Shall dole to Oedipus, the wandering exile,
Their meagre gifts? Little I ask, and less
Receive with full contentment; for my woes,
And the long years ripening the noble mind,
Have schooled me to endure.–But, O my child,
If thou espiest where we may sit, though near
Some holy precinct, stay me and set me there,
Till we may learn where we are come. ‘Tis ours
To hear the will of strangers and to obey.

Woe-wearied father, yonder city’s wall
That shields her, looks far distant; but this ground
Is surely sacred, thickly planted over
With olive, bay and vine, within whose bowers
Thick-fluttering song-birds make sweet melody.
Here then repose thee on this unhewn stone.
Thou hast travelled far to-day for one so old.

Seat me, my child, and be the blind man’s guard.

Long time hath well instructed me in that.


Now, canst thou tell me where we have set our feet?