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. Would I were free of fear and circling in the dance of the deathless god, having left Dirce for the valleys of Phoebus at the center of the world.
  1. But now I find
  2. the impetuous god of war has come to battle before the walls, and is kindling a murderous blaze—may he not succeed!—for this city. For a friend’s pain is shared, and if this land with its seven towers
  3. suffers any mischance, Phoenicia’s realm will share it. Ah me! our blood is one; we are all children of Io, the horned maid; these sorrows I claim as mine.
  1. Around the city a thick cloud of shields is kindling a shape of bloody battle, which Ares will soon learn, if he brings upon the sons of Oedipus
  2. the curse of the Furies. O Argos, city of Pelasgia! I dread your might, and also what comes from the gods; for the one who approaches his home in armor is setting out to a contest
  3. that is not without justice.
  1. The doorkeeper’s bolts admitted me readily within the walls, and so I fear that now they have caught me in their nets, they will not let me out unscathed;
  2. so I must turn my eye in every direction, here and there, to guard against treachery. Armed with this sword, I shall inspire myself with the confidence that is born of boldness. Starting. Oh! Who is that? Or is it a sound I fear?
  3. Everything seems a danger to the daring, when their feet begin to tread an enemy’s country. Still I trust my mother, and at the same time mistrust her, the one who persuaded me to come here under truce. Well, there is help at hand, for the altar’s hearth
  4. is close and the house is not deserted. Come, let me sheath my sword in its dark scabbard and ask these women standing near the house, who they are.
  5. Ladies of another land, tell me from what country do you come to the halls of Hellas?
Chorus Leader
  1. Phoenicia is my native land where I was born and bred; and the grandsons of Agenor sent me here as first-fruits of the spoil of war for Phoebus. But when the noble son of Oedipus was about to send me to the hallowed oracle and the altars of Loxias,
  2. the Argive army came against his city. Now tell me in return who you are, who have come to this fortress of the Theban land with its seven gates.
  1. My father was Oedipus, the son of Laius; my mother Jocasta, daughter of Menoeceus;
  2. and I am called Polyneices by the people of Thebes.
  1. O kinsman of Agenor’s race, my royal masters who sent me here!
  2. I fall to my knees before you, lord, honoring the custom of my home.
  3. At last you have come to your native land. Hail to you! all hail! Lady, come from the house, open wide the gates! Do you hear, you who gave birth to this man? Why do you delay to leave the sheltered hall
  4. and hold your son in your embrace?