The seven against thebes
At once and as one,
O brothers beloved,
To death ye were, done!
Ye came to the strife of the sword, and behold! ye are both
O grievous the tale is,
And grievous their fall,
To the house, to the land,
And to me above all!
Ah, God! for the curse that hath come, the sin and the ruin withal!
O children distraught,
Who in madness have died!
Shall ye rest with old kings
In the place of their pride?
Alas for the wrath of your sire if he findeth you laid by his side!
A HERALD enters.
I bear command to tell to one and all
What hath approved itself and now is law,
Ruled by the counsellors of Cadmus' town.
For this Eteocles, it is resolved
To lay him on his earth-bed, in this soil,
Not without care and kindly sepulture.
For why? he hated those who hated us,
And, with all duties blanielessly performed
Unto the sacred ritual of his sires,
He met such end as gains our city's grace,-
With auspices that do ennoble death.
Such words I have in charge to speak of him:
But of his brother Polyneices, this-
Be he cast out unburied, for the dogs
To rend and tear: for he presumed to waste
The land of the Cadmeans, had not Heaven-
Some god of those who aid our fatherland-
Opposed his onset, by his brother's spear,
To whom, tho' dead, shall consecration come!
Against him stood this wretch, and brought a horde
Of foreign foemen, to beset our town.
He therefore shall receive his recompense,
Buried ignobly in the maw of kites-
No women-wailers to escort his corpse
Nor pile his tomb nor shrill his dirge anew-
Unhouselled, unattended, cast away
So, for these brothers, doth our State ordain.
And I-to those who make such claims of rule
In Cadmus' town-I, though no other help,
Pointing to the body of POLYNEICES
I, I will bury this my brother's
And risk your wrath and what may come of it!
It shames me not to face the State, and set
Will against power, rebellion resolute:
Deep in my heart is set my sisterhood,
My common birthright with my brothers, born
All of one womb, her children who, for woe,
Brought forth sad offspring to a sire ill-starred.
Therefore, my soul! take thou thy willing share,
In aid of him who now can will no more,
Against this outrage: be a sister true,
While yet thou livest, to a brother dead!