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(525 BC - 455 BC / Eleusis)

The Defiance Of Eteocles


Now at the Seventh Gate the seventh chief,
Thy proper mother's son, I will announce,
What fortune for this city, for himself,
With curses he invoketh:--on the walls
Ascending, heralded as king, to stand,
With paeans for their capture; then with thee
To fight, and either slaying near thee die,
Or thee, who wronged him, chasing forth alive,
Requite in kind his proper banishment.
Such words he shouts, and calls upon the gods
Who o'er his race preside and Fatherland,
With gracious eye to look upon his prayers.
A well-wrought buckler, newly forged, he bears,
With twofold blazon riveted thereon,
For there a woman leads, with sober mien,
A mailed warrior, enchased in gold;
Justice her style, and thus the legend speaks:--
'This man I will restore, and he shall hold
The city and his father's palace homes.'
Such the devices of the hostile chiefs.
'Tis for thyself to choose whom thou wilt send;
But never shalt thou blame my herald-words.
To guide the rudder of the State be thine!


O heaven-demented race of Oedipus,
My race, tear-fraught, detested of the gods!
Alas, our father's curses now bear fruit.
But it beseems not to lament or weep,
Lest lamentations sadder still be born.
For him, too truly Polyneikes named,--
What his device will work we soon shall know;
Whether his braggart words, with madness fraught,
Gold-blazoned on his shield, shall lead him back.
Hath Justice communed with, or claimed him hers,
Guided his deeds and thoughts, this might have been;
But neither when he fled the darksome womb,
Or in his childhood, or in youth's fair prime,
Or when the hair thick gathered on his chin,
Hath Justice communed with, or claimed him hers,
Nor in this outrage on his Fatherland
Deem I she now beside him deigns to stand.
For Justice would in sooth belie her name,
Did she with this all-daring man consort.
In these regards confiding will I go,
Myself will meet him. Who with better right?
Brother to brother, chieftain against chief,
Foeman to foe, I'll stand. Quick, bring my spear,
My greaves, and armor, bulwark against stones.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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