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. That is for others to decide; it is for me to speak.
  1. How did this curse come on me and my son?
  1. You do right to ask me and to test what I have said. In the chamber where the earth-born dragon kept watch over Dirce’s springs, he must be offered as a sacrifice and shed his blood on the ground, a libation of Cadmus, because of the ancient wrath of Ares,
  2. who now avenges the slaughter of his earth-born snake. If you do this, you shall win Ares as an ally. If the earth receives fruit for fruit and human blood for blood, you shall find her kind to you again, who once
  3. sent up to us a crop of Sown-men with golden helmets; for one of those born from the dragon’s teeth must die.
  4. Now you are our only survivor of the Sown race, pure-blooded both on your mother’s and your father’s side, you and your sons. Haemon’s marriage
  5. holds him back from the slaughter, for he is no longer single; even if he has not consummated his marriage, yet he is betrothed. But this tender youth, consecrated to his city, might by dying rescue his country; and bitter will he make the return of Adrastus and his Argives,
  6. flinging over their eyes a black spirit of death, and he will glorify Thebes. Choose one of these two destinies: either save the city or your son.
  7. Now you have all that I had to say. Daughter, lead me home. The man who practices the prophet’s art
  8. is a fool; for if he happens to give an adverse answer, he makes himself disliked by those for whom he takes the omens; while if he pities and deceives those who are consulting him, he wrongs the gods. Phoebus should have been man’s only prophet, for he fears no one. Exit Teiresias.
Chorus Leader
  1. Creon, why are you so silent, without a word? I too am no less amazed.
  1. What can one say? It is clear what my words must be. For I will never come to such misfortune as to devote my son to death for the city;
  2. for all men love their children, and no one would give his own son to die. Let no man praise me, and kill my child at the same time. I myself, for I am in the prime of life, am ready to die to save my country.
  3. But come, my son, before the whole city learns this, fly with all haste away from this land, regardless of these prophets’ reckless warnings; for he will tell all this to our rulers and generals going to the seven gates and the captains;
  4. now if we can forestall him, you are saved, but if you are too late, we are ruined and you will die.
  1. Where can I escape? To what city? To which of our guest-friends?
  1. Where you will be furthest removed from this land.
  1. It is for you to name a place, for me to carry out your bidding.
  1. After passing Delphi—
  1. Where must I go, father?