The Tracking Satyrs is a substantial fragment of a satyr play by Sophocles, discovered at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt in 1907. We have some 400 lines of a play that was probably about 800 lines long. The plot is the same as that of the Homeric Hymn to Hermes: Apollo’s cows have been stolen, and the culprit turns out to be his newborn brother Hermes. This translation is adapted from The Ichneutae of Sophocles, Richard Johnson Walker, London: 1919. Walker established his own text for the fragment, filling in many of the gap reason="lost"s. I have occasionally adopted his supplements, but have basically translated the text of the first publication of the play, Oxyrhynchus Papyri 9, no. 1174, ed. Arthur S. Hunt, London: 1912. Apollo, son of Zeus and god of prophecySilenus, father of the satyrsCyllene, a nymphHermes, newborn son of Zeus[*](he does not appear in the fragment we have, but must have showed up before the play was over)Chorus of satyrs
The scene is outdoors. There is a cave upstage center (represented by the skene door). Enter Apollo, right.[*](There are no stage directions in the texts of Greek plays; translators normally add them for the convenience of the modern reader. Apollo could appear on the roof of the skene building, like Athena in Ajax, or could enter in the usual way from the wings.) Apollo
- I, Apollo, proclaim to all gods and all mortal men: [*](This speech is rather fragmentary. I have followed Walker’s heavily-supplemented text. The main ideas are clear, but the details are missing.)I shall give a golden basin to whoever can bring back my cattle from far away.
- It is quite unpleasant to me that they are gone, all of them: cows, calves, heifers. They are all gone, and I look in vain for their tracks, while they wander far from their own mangers. I never thought that any of the gods or of men, whose lives are like a single day, would dare do such a thing. Since I found out about this, shocked as I was, I have been seeking them, and I have proclaimed the deed
- so that no god or mortal men could be unaware of it. I am beside myself. I have gone to visit the whole nation of the Locrians, those who inhabit Opus, those in Ozolis, those in Knemis by the Cephisus. I have gone to Aetolia and to Acarnanian Argos. From there I came to the grove of Zeus at Dodona, shaded by leaves of prophecy. I then hastened to the fruitful plains of Thessaly
- and the wealthy cities of Boeotia. And then I came to Attica, to holy Athens, but I see my cows nowhere. Then I came to Dorian Argos and the nearby hill. From there I came, in one leap, to the Stymphalian Lake and Mount Cyllene, hard to climb. I speak to the forest: if any shepherd or any rustic or any charcoal-burner is here,
- or any saytr from the mountains, child of the river-nymphs, I announce these things to one and all. Whoever can capture the one who stole the cattle of Apollo Paean, his is the reward that stands here.
- As soon as I heard you shouting your proclamation, I came as fast as an old man can, because I want to help you out, Phoebus Apollo,
- and perhaps I can hunt up your cattle. Then a messenger will announce my golden reward. I will tell my children to look carefully, if you really do mean to do what you’ve promised.
- I will indeed; only confirm your promise.
- I will bring you back your cattle; but you confirm the reward.
- Whoever finds them will have it; it is ready at hand.
- What? What are you saying?
- I say that you, and all the race of your children, will be free.
Exit Apollo, right.Enter the chorus of satyrs, by the left parodos. They sing excitedly.[*](We recognize their excitement from the meter, which is dochmiac.) Chorus
- Come, come here, see if you can find the footprints of the lost cattle. Apapapay![*](An inarticulate shout; the Satyrs make various non-verbal noises throughout the play.) Oh, oh, listen, I tell you! Get the thief! --- underground ---
- finish the job --- my old father. How can we find out the secret thefts in the night? --- if I did meet --- free life for my father. --- So may the dear god bring an end to my labors, as he has shown us the extraordinary excellence of his gold.
- Oh gods, Fortune and the god who leads in the straight way, grant me success as I race out to seek out the prey, the spoil, and the booty: the cattle stolen from Phoebus. If there is anyone who has seen them, or heard about them, he would become my friend by telling me, and he would help me to help lord Phoebus. But if someone does not tell what he knows, his reward will be the god’s disapproval.