A monologue from the play by Aeschylus

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Dramas of Aeschylus. Trans. Anna Swanwick. London: George Bell and Sons, 1907.
  • ETEOCLES: Burghers of Cadmos, timely words beseem
    Him at the stern who guards the city's weal,
    Guiding the helm with lids unsoothed by sleep;
    For, if we prosper, God alone is praised,
    But if, which Heaven forfend, mischance befall,
    One man, Eteocles, through all the town,
    In noiseful rhymes and wailings manifold
    Would by the folk be chanted; which may Zeus,
    True to his sacred name, Averter, turn
    From our Cadmeian city; you meanwhile
    It now behoveth--him alike who fails
    Of youth's fair prime, and him whose bloom is past,
    Yet nursing still his body's stalwart strength,
    And each one grown to manhood, as befits--
    The State to aid and shrines of native gods,
    That ne'er their homes be erased; to aid
    Your children too, and this your mother earth,
    Beloved nurse, who, while your childish limbs
    Crept on her friendly plain, all nurture-toil
    Full kindly entertained, and fostered you
    Her denizens to be, in strait like this
    Shield-bearing champions, trusty in her cause.
    And so far, to the present day, in sooth
    God in our favour hath inclined the scale;
    For unto us, so long beleaguered here,
    War prospers in the main, through heaven's high will;--
    But now, so speaks the seer, augur divine,
    Without fire omens, but in ear and mind
    Marking, with faultless skill, presageful birds,--
    He, lord of these divining arts, declares
    That the prime onset of the Achaian host,
    Night-plotted, threatens even now the town;
    Haste, to the turrets then and bastion-gates
    Rush in full panoply;--the breastwork throng,
    Take station on the platforms of the towers,
    And, biding at the outlets of the ports,
    Be of good courage, nor this alien swarm
    Dread over-much; God will rule all for good.
    Myself have scouts sent forth and army spies,
    Who, as I trust, no bootless journey make;
    And having heard their tidings, in no wise
    Shall I by guileful stratagem be caught.