Oedipus, having just learned that he has inadvertently fulfilled the
“What I have done here was best done–don’t tell me
Otherwise, do not give me further counsel.
I do not know with what eyes I could look
Upon my father when I die and go
Under the earth, nor yet my wretched mother–
Those two to whom I have done things deserving
Worse punishment than handing. Would the sight
Of children, bred as mine are, gladden me?
No, not these eyes, never. And my city,
Its towers and sacred places of the Gods,
Of those I robbed my miserable self
When I commanded all to drive him out,
The criminal since proved by God impure
And of the race of Laius.
To this guilt I bore witness against myself–
With what eyes shall I look upon my people?
No. If there were a means to choke the fountain
Of hearing I would not have stayed my hand
From locking up my miserable carcass,
Seeing and hearing nothing; it is sweet
To keep our thoughts out of the range or hurt.
Cithaeron, why did you receive me? Why
Having received me did you not kill me straight?
And so I had not shown to men my birth.
O Polybus and Corinth and the house,
The old house that I used to call my father’s–
What fairness you were nurse to, and what foulness
Festered beneath! Now I am found to be
A sinner and a son of sinners. Crossroads,
And hidden glade, oak and the narrow way
At the crossroads, that drank my father’s blood
Offered you by my hands, do you remember
Still what I did as you looked on, and what
I did when I came here? O marriage, marriage!
You bred me and again when you had bred
Bred children of your child and showed to men
Brides, wives and mothers and the foulest deeds
That can be in this world of ours.
Come–it’s unfit to say what is unfit
To do.–I beg of you in God’s name hide me
Somewhere outside your country, yes, or kill me,
Or throw me into the sea, to be forever
Out of your sight. Approach and deign to touch me
For all my wretchedness, and do not fear.
No man but I can bear my evil doom.”
Trans. David Grene, Sophocles: Oedipus the King, originally published by University of Chicago Press, 1942. Second edition, 1991, University of Chicago Press, pp. 70-71.
(The video performance uses a different translation of the monologue.)
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