Statius, Thebaid I.46-87

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read in the restored pronunciation of classical Latin

by Stephen G. Daitz, City University of New York.

(Text followed by translation)

Already had Oedipus with avenging hand probed deep his sinning eyes and sunk his guilty shame in eternal night, abiding in a long and living death. But while he hugs his darkness and the uttermost seclusion of his dwelling, and keeps his secret chamber which the sun's rays and heaven behold not, yet with unwearied wings the fierce daylight of the mind hovers around him, and the avenging furies of his crimes assail his heart. then he displays to heaven those empty orbs, the cruel, pitiful punishment of his life, and with blood-stained hands beats upon the hollow earth, and in dire accents utters this prayer: "Gods who hold sway over guilty souls and over tartarus crowded with the damned, and thou o styx, whom I behold, ghastly in they shadowy depths, and thou tisiphone, so oft the object of my prayer, be favorable now, and further my unnatural wish: if in aught I have found favour; if thou didst cherish me in thy bosom when I fell from my mother's womb and didst heal the wounds of my pierced feet; if I sought the lake of Cirrha where it winds between the two summits of the range, when I could have lived contented with the false Polybus, and in the Phocian strait where three ways meet grappled with the aged king and cleft the visage of the trembling dotard, searching for my true sire; if by wit of thy foreshowing I solved the riddles of the cruel Sphinx; if I knew exulting the sweet ecstasy and fatal union of my mother's bed, and passed many an unhallowed night, and begot sons for thee, as well thou knowest, yet soon, greedy for punishment, did violence to myself with tearing fingers and left my eyes upon my wretched mother--hear me to the end, if my prayer be worthy and such as thou wouldest inspire my raging heart withal. Sightless though I was and driven from my throne, my sons, on whatever couch begotten, attempted not to givve me guidance or consolation in my grief; nay, haughtily (ah! the maddening sting!) and raised to royalty with me long dead, they mock my blindness and abhor their father's groans. Do these too hold me accursed? and the father of gods beholds it? and does naught? Do thou at least, my due defender, come hither, and begin a work of vengeance that will blast their seed for ever! Set on thy head the gore-drencheed circlet that my bloody nails tore off, and inspired by their father's curses go thou between the brethren, and with the sword sunder the binding ties of kindship. Grant me, thou queen of Tartarus' abyss, grant me to see the evil that my soul desires, nor will the spirit of the youths be slow to follow; come thou but worthy of thyself, thou shalt know them to be true sons of mine."

trans. J.H. Mozley


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