The Phoenician Women


Euripides. The Plays of Euripides, Translated into English Prose from the Text of Paley. Vol. II. Coleridge, Edward P., translator. London: George Bell and Sons, 1891.

  1. Have you any further wish than your sons’ safety?
  1. Yes, to hear if I shall fare well in the future.
  1. Let me go; your son is left without his squire.
  1. There is some evil you are hiding, veiling it in darkness.
  1. I would not add ill news to the good you have heard.
  1. You must, unless you take wings and fly away.
  1. Ah! Why did you not let me go after my good news, instead of forcing me to disclose evil? Those two sons of yours are resolved on
  2. deeds of shameful recklessness, a single combat apart from the army; they addressed to Argives and Thebans alike words I would they had never uttered. Eteocles, taking his stand on a lofty tower, after ordering silence to be proclaimed to the army, began:
  3. and said: O captains of Hellas,chieftains of Argos here assembled, and you people of Cadmus, do not barter your lives for Polyneices or for me! For I myself excuse you from this risk,
  4. and will engage my brother in single combat; and if I slay him, I will possess my house alone, but if I am conquered I will hand down the city to him alone. You men of Argos, give up the struggle and return to your land, do not lose your lives here;
  5. there are enough of the Sown-men who lie dead.
  6. So he spoke; then your son Polyneices rushed from the battle-line and assented to his proposal. And all the Argives and the people of Cadmus shouted their approval, as though they thought it just.
  7. On these terms the armies made a truce, and in the space between them the generals took an oath to abide by.
  8. At once, the two sons of the old Oedipus were hiding themselves in bronze armor; and lords of Thebes with friendly care equipped the captain of this land,
  9. while Argive chieftains armed the other. There they stood dazzling, nor were they pale, all eagerness to hurl their lances at each other. Then their friends came to their sides first one, then another, with words of encouragement, saying:
  10. Polyneices, it rests with you to set up an image of Zeus as a trophy and crown Argos with fair renown.
  11. Others to Eteocles: Now you are fighting for your city; now, if victorious, you have the scepter in your power.
  12. So they spoke, cheering them to the battle.
  13. The seers were sacrificing sheep and noting the tongues and forks of fire, the damp reek which is a bad omen, and the tapering flame which gives decisions on two points, being both a sign of victory and defeat.
  14. But, if you have any power or subtle speech