• CHORUS LEADER: Creon is coming. He is just in time
          to plan and carry out what you propose.
          With you gone he’s the only one who’s left
          to act as guardian of Thebes.

    OEDIPUS:                                                 Alas,
          how will I talk to him? How can I ask him
          to put his trust in me? Not long ago                                                   
          I treated him with such contempt.

    [Enter Creon]

    CREON: Oedipus, I have not come here to mock                         1680
          or blame you for disasters in the past.
          But if you can no longer value human beings,
          at least respect our lord the sun, whose light
          makes all things grow, and do not put on show
          pollution of this kind in such a public way,
          for neither earth nor light nor sacred rain
          can welcome such a sight.

    [Creon speaks to the attending servants]

                                           Take him inside the house
          as quickly as you can. The kindest thing
          would be for members of his family                                                    
          to be the only ones to see and hear him.                                  

    OEDIPUS: By all the gods, since you are acting now
          so differently from what I would expect
          and have come here to treat me graciously,
          the very worst of men, do what I ask.
          I will speak for your own benefit, not mine.

    CREON: What are you so keen to get from me?

    OEDIPUS: Cast me out as quickly as you can,
          away from Thebes, to a place where no one,
          no living human being, will cross my path.

    CREON: That is something I could do, of course,                         1700
          but first I wish to know what the god says
          about what I should do.

    OEDIPUS:                               But what he said                                       [1440]
          was all so clear—the man who killed his father
          must be destroyed. And that corrupted man
          is me.

    CREON:             Yes, that is what was said. But now,
          with things the way they are, the wisest thing
          is to ascertain quite clearly what to do.

    OEDIPUS: Will you then be making a request
          on my behalf when I am so depraved?

    CREON: I will. For even you must now trust in the gods.             1710

    OEDIPUS: Yes, I do. And I have a task for you
          as I make this plea—that woman in the house,
          please bury her as you see fit. You are the one
          to give your own the proper funeral rites.
          But never let my father’s city be condemned
          to have me living here while I still live.                                              
          Let me make my home up in the mountains
          by Cithaeron, whose fame is now my own.
          When my father and mother were alive,
          they chose it as my special burying place—                             
          and thus, when I die, I’ll be following
          the orders of the ones who tried to kill me.
          And yet I know this much—no disease
          nor any other suffering can kill me—
          for I would never have been saved from death
          unless I was to suffer a strange destiny.
          But wherever my fate leads, just let it go.
          As for my two sons, Creon, there’s no need
          for you to care for them on my behalf—
          they are men—thus, no matter where they are,                        
    1730       [1460]
          they’ll always have enough to live on.
          But my two poor daughters have never known
          my dining table placed away from them
          or lacked their father’s presence. They shared
          everything I touched—that’s how it’s always been.
          So take care of them for me. But first let me
          feel them with my hands and then I’ll grieve.
          Oh my lord, you noble heart, let me do that—
          if my hands could touch them it would seem
          as if I were with them when I still could see.                           
    1740        [1470]

    [Some SERVANTS lead ANTIGONE and ISMENE out of the palace]

          What’s this? By all the gods I hear something—
          is it my two dear children crying . . . ?
          Has Creon taken pity on me
          and sent out the children, my dear treasures?
          Is that what’s happening?

    CREON:                                     Yes. I sent for them.
          I know the joy they’ve always given you—
          the joy which you feel now.

    OEDIPUS:                                     I wish you well.
          And for this act, may the god watch over you
          and treat you better than he treated me.
          Ah, my children, where are you? Come here,                           
    1750       [1480]
          come into my arms—you are my sisters now—
          feel these hands which turned your father’s eyes,
          once so bright, into what you see now,
          these empty sockets. He was a man, who,
          seeing nothing, knowing nothing, fathered you
          with the woman who had given birth to him.
          I weep for you. Although I cannot see,
          I think about your life in days to come,
          the bitter life which men will force on you.
          What citizens will associate with you?                                     
          What feasts will you attend and not come home
          in tears, with no share in the rejoicing?                                               
          When you’re mature enough for marriage,
          who will be there for you, my children,
          what husband ready to assume the shame
          tainting my children and their children, too?
          What perversion is not manifest in us?
          Your father killed his father, and then ploughed
          his mother’s womb—where he himself was born—
          conceiving you where he, too, was conceived.                         
          Those are the insults they will hurl at you.                                         
          Who, then, will marry you? No one, my children.
          You must wither, barren and unmarried.
          Son of Menoeceus, with both parents gone,
          you alone remain these children’s father.
          Do not let them live as vagrant paupers,
          wandering around unmarried. You are
          a relative of theirs—don’t let them sink
          to lives of desperation like my own.
          Have pity. You see them now at their young age                     
          deprived of everything except a share
          in what you are. Promise me, you noble soul,
          you will extend your hand to them. And you,                                     
          my children, if your minds were now mature,
          there’s so much I could say. But I urge you—
          pray that you may live as best you can
          and lead your destined life more happily
          than your own father.

    CREON:                               You have grieved enough.
          Now go into the house.

    OEDIPUS:                                     I must obey,
          although that’s not what I desire.

    CREON:                                           In due time                            1790
          all things will work out for the best.

    OEDIPUS:                                           I will go.
          But you know there are conditions.

    CREON:                                                 Tell me.
          Once I hear them, I’ll know what they are.

    OEDIPUS: Send me away to live outside of Thebes.

    CREON: Only the god can give you what you ask.

    OEDIPUS: But I’ve become abhorrent to the gods.

    CREON: Then you should quickly get what you desire.

    OEDIPUS: So you agree?                                                                         [1520]

    CREON:                               I don’t like to speak
          thoughtlessly and say what I don’t mean.

    OEDIPUS: Come then, lead me off.

    CREON:                                                 All right,                          1800
          but let go of the children.

    OEDIPUS:                                           No, no!
          Do not take them away from me.

    CREON: Don’t try to be in charge of everything.
          Your life has lost the power you once had.

    [CREON, OEDIPUS, ANTIGONE, ISMENE, and ATTENDANTS all enter the palace]

    CHORUS: You residents of Thebes, our native land,
          look on this man, this Oedipus, the one
          who understood that celebrated riddle.
          He was the most powerful of men.
          All citizens who witnessed this man’s wealth
          were envious. Now what a surging tide                                    
          of terrible disaster sweeps around him.
          So while we wait to see that final day,
          we cannot call a mortal being happy
          before he’s passed beyond life free from pain.