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dipus, King of Thebes.
ADRASTUS, Prince of Argos.
Creon, Brother to JocasTA.
TIRESIAS, a blind Prophet.
HÆMon, Captain of the Guard.
DiocLES, Lords of Creon's faction.
PHORBAS, an old Shepherd.
Dymas, the Messenger returned from Delphos.
ÆGEON, the Corinthian Embassador.
Ghost of LAIUS, the late King of Thebes.

JOCASTA, Queen of Thebes.

EURYDICE, her Daughter, by Laius, her first husband. | MANTO, Daughter of TIRESIAS.

Priests, Citizens, Attendants, &e.




SCENE I.The Curtain rises to a plaintive Tune,

representing the present condition of Thebes; dead Bodies appear at a distance in the Streets; some faintly go over the Stage, others drop.



Alc. Methinks we stand on ruins; nature shakes About us; and the universal frame So loose, that it but wants another push, To leap from off its hinges.

Dioc. No sun to cheer us; but a bloody globe, That rolls above, a bald and beamless fire, His face o'er-grown with scurf: The sun's sick, too; Shortly he'll be an earth.

Pyr. Therefore the seasons Lie all confused ; and, by the heavens neglected, Forget themselves: Blind winter meets the summer In his mid-way, and, seeing not his livery, Has driven him headlong back; and the raw damps, With flaggy wings, fly heavily about,

Scattering their pestilential colds and rheums
Through all the lazy air.

Alc. Hence murrains followed
On bleating flocks, and on the lowing herds:
At last, the malady
Grew more domestic, and the faithful dog
Died at his master's feet *.,

Dioc. And next, his master :
For all those plagues, which earth and air had brooded,
First on inferior creatures tried their force,
And last they seized on man.

Pyr. And then a thousand deaths at once advanced, And every dart took place; all was so sudden, That scarce a first man fell; one but began To wonder, and straight fell a wonder too; A third, who stooped to raise his dying friend, Dropt in the pious act.—Heard


that groan?

[Groan within.
Dioc. A troop of ghosts took flight together there.
Now death's grown riotous, and will play no more
For single stakes, but families and tribes.
How are we sure we breathe not now our last,
And that, next minute,
Our bodies, cast into some common pit,
Shall not be built upon, and overlaid
By half a people?

Alc. There's a chain of causes
Linked to effects; invincible necessity,
That whate'er is, could not but so have been;
That's my security.

To them, enter CREON.
Cre. So had it need, when all our streets lie covered


* Imitated from the commencement of the plague in the first book of the Iliad.

With dead and dying men;
And earth exposes bodies on the pavements,
More than she hides in graves.
Betwixt the bride and bridegroom have I seen
The nuptial torch do common offices
Of marriage and of death.

Dioc. Now Edipus (If he return from war, our other plague) Will-scarce find half he left, to grace his triumphs.

Pyr. A feeble pæan will be sung before him.
Alc. He would do well to bring the wives and

Of conquered Argians, to renew his Thebes.

Cre. May funerals meet him at the city gates, With their detested omen!

Dioc. Of his children.
Cre. Nay, though she be my sister, of his wife.

Alc. O that our Thebes might once again behold A monarch, Theban born!

Dioc. We might have had one.
Pyr. Yes, had the people pleased.

Cre. Come, you are my friends :
The queen my sister, after Laius' death,
Feared to lie single; and supplied his place
With a young successor.

Dioc. He much resembles
Her former husband too.

Alc. I always thought so.
Pyr. When twenty winters more have grizzled

his black locks, He will be very Laius.

Cre. So he will.
Meantime, she stands provided of a Laius,

young, and vigorous too, by twenty springs.
These women are such cunning purveyors !
Mark, where their appetites have once been pleased,
The same resemblance, in a younger lover,

Lies brooding in their fancies the same pleasures, And urges their remembrance to desire.

Dioc. Had merit, not her dotage, been considered, Therr Creon had been king; but Edipus, A stranger!

Cre. That word, stranger, I confess, Sounds harshly in my ears.

Dioc. We are your creatures. The people, prone, as in all general ills, To sudden change; the king, in wars abroad ; The queen, a woman weak and unregarded; Eurydice, the daughter of dead Laius, A princess young and beauteous, and unmarried, Methinks, from these disjointed propositions, Something might be produced.

Cre. The gods have done Their part, by sending this commodious plague. But oh, the princess ! her hard heart is shut By adamantine locks against my love. Alc. Your claim to her is strong; you are betrothed,

. Pyr. True, in her nonage.

Dioc. I heard the prince of Argos, young Adrastus, When he was hostage here

Cre. Oh name him not! the bane of all my hopes. That hot-brained, head-long warrior, has the charms Of youth, and somewhat of a lucky rashness, To please a woman yet more fool than he. That thoughtless sex is caught by outward form, And empty noise, and loves itself in man.

Alc. But since the war broke out about our frontiers, He's now a foe to Thebes.

Cre. But is not so to her. See, she appears; Once more I'll prove my fortune. You insinuate Kind thoughts of me into the multitude; Lay load upon the court; gull them with freedom; And you shall see them toss their tails, and gad, As if the breeze had stung them.


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