Sophocles


Battle of Two Brothers


O light of yon bright sun,
Fairest of all that ever shone on Thebes,
Thebes with her seven high gates,
Thou didst appear that day,
Eye of the golden dawn,
O'er Dirké's streams advancing,
Driving with quickened curb,
In haste of headlong flight,
The warrior who, in panoply of proof,
From Argos came, with shield of glittering white;
Whom Polyneikes brought,
Roused by the strife of tongues
Against our fatherland,
As eagle shrieking shrill,
He hovered o'er our land,
With snow-white wing bedecked,
Begirt with myriad arms,
And flowing horsehair crests.

He stood above our towers,
Encircling, with his spears all blood-bestained,
The portals of our gates;
He went, before he filled
His jaw with blood of men,
Ere the pine-fed Hephæstos
Had seized our crown of towers.
So loud the battle din
That Ares loves was raised around his rear,
A conflict hard e'en for his dragon foe.
For breath of haughty speech
Zeus hateth evermore;
And seeing them advance,
With mighty rushing stream,
And clang of golden arms,
With brandished fire he hurls
One who rushed eagerly
From topmost battlement
To shout out, 'Victory!'

Crashing to earth he fell,
Down-smitten, with his torch,
Who came, with madman's haste,
Drunken, with frenzied soul,
And swept o'er us with blasts,
The whirlwind blasts of hate.
Thus on one side they fare,
And Ares great, like war-horse in his strength,
Smiting now here, now there,
Brought each his several fate.
For seven chief warriors at the seven gates met,
Equals with equals matched,
To Zeus, the Lord of War,
Left tribute, arms of bronze;
All but the hateful ones,
Who, from one father and one mother sprung,
Stood wielding, hand to hand,
Their two victorious spears,
And had their doom of death as common lot.

But now, since Victory,
Of mightiest name, hath come
To Thebes, of chariots proud,
Joying and giving joy,
After these wars just past,
Learn ye forgetfulness,
And all night long, with dance and voice of hymns,
Let us go round in state
To all the shrines of Gods,
While Bacchus, making Thebes resound with dance,
Begins the strain of joy;
But, lo! our country's king,
Creon, Menoekeus' son,
New ruler, by new change,
And providence of God,
Comes to us, steering on some new device;
For, lo! he hath convened,
By herald's loud command,
This council of the elders of our land.

Submitted: Monday, September 24, 2012

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