Oedipus At Colonus In Plain and Simple English (Digital Download)
Sophocles was the Aaron Spelling of ancient Greek world--his plays had all the makings of a modern soap! But archaic translations of his ancient work make it almost impossible to see any of the Melrose Place-like plots! BookCaps can help readers who have struggled in the past with Sophocles classic plays with this modern retelling. The play describes the end of Oedipus' tragic life. Legends differ as to the site of Oedipus' death; Sophocles set the place at Colonus, a village near Athens and also Sophocles' own birthplace, where the blinded Oedipus has come with his daughters Antigone and Ismene as suppliants of the Erinyes and of Theseus, the king of Athens. The original text is also presented in the book, along with a comparable version of both text.


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Excerpt From Oedipus At Colonus In Plain and Simple English


 Oedipus, the blind and banished King of Thebes, has come in his wanderings to Colonus, a deme of Athens, led by his daughter Antigone. He sits to rest on a rock just within a sacred grove of the Furies and is bidden depart by a passing native. But Oedipus, instructed by an oracle that he had reached his final resting-place, refuses to stir, and the stranger consents to go and consult the Elders of Colonus (the Chorus of the Play). Conducted to the spot they pity at first the blind beggar and his daughter, but on learning his name they are horror-striken and order him to quit the land. He appeals to the world-famed hospitality of Athens and hints at the blessings that his coming will confer on the State. They agree to await the decision of King Theseus. From Theseus Oedipus craves protection in life and burial in Attic soil; the benefits that will accrue shall be told later. Theseus departs having promised to aid and befriend him. No sooner has he gone than Creon enters with an armed guard who seize Antigone and carry her off (Ismene, the other sister, they have already captured) and he is about to lay hands on Oedipus, when Theseus, who has heard the tumult, hurries up and, upbraiding Creon for his lawless act, threatens to detain him till he has shown where the captives are and restored them. In the next scene Theseus returns bringing with him the rescued maidens. He informs Oedipus that a stranger who has taken sanctuary at the altar of Poseidon wishes to see him. It is Polyneices who has come to crave his father's forgiveness and blessing, knowing by an oracle that victory will fall to the side that Oedipus espouses. But Oedipus spurns the hypocrite, and invokes a dire curse on both his unnatural sons. A sudden clap of thunder is heard, and as peal follows peal, Oedipus is aware that his hour is come and bids Antigone summon Theseus. Self-guided he leads the way to the spot where death should overtake him, attended by Theseus and his daughters. Halfway he bids his daughters farewell, and what followed none but Theseus knew. He was not killed (so the Messenger reports) for the gods took him.


 Oedipus, the blind and exiled King of Thebes, has arrived in his wanderings at Colonus, a province of Athens, led by his daughter Antigone.  He sits to rest in a grove that is sacred to the Furies and is told to leave by a passing local.  But Oedipus, told by an oracle that this is his final resting place, refuses to go and the local agrees to go and consult with the Elders of Colonus (the Chorus).  They go to the spot and at first they pity the blind beggar and his daughter, but when they discover his true identity they are horrified and order him to leave.  He appeals to the famous hospitality of Athens and hints that his presence will bring great benefits to the State.  They agree to wait for the decision of King Theseus.  Oedipus asks Theseus for protection and that he will be buried on Greek soil; he will explain the benefits for Athens later.  Theseus leaves, promising his help and friendship.  As soon as he leaves Creon enters with his guards who seize Antigone and carry her off (they have already captured the other sister, Ismene).  He is about to carry Oedipus off when Theseus, hearing the fuss, arrives and threatens to detain Creon for his illegal act until he has returned the captives.  In the next scene Theseus returns with the girls.  He tells Oedipus that a stranger has taken sanctuary at the altar of Poseidon and wants to see him.  It is his son Polyneices who has come to ask Oedipus’ blessing and forgiveness, knowing from an oracle that victory in his battle for Thebes with his brother will come to whomever Oedipus favors.  But Oedipus rejects his hypocrisy and puts a curse on both his sons.  A sudden clap of thunder is heard, and as more and more follows Oedipus knows his time has come and asks Antigone to call Theseus.  Leading the way he goes to the spot where he knows death will overtake him, accompanied by Theseus and his own daughters.  Halfway he tells his daughters to leave, and only Theseus knows what happened next.  He did not die, the Messenger says, but was taken by the gods.



 Scene: In front of the grove of the Eumenides.


 Enter the blind OEDIPUS led by his daughter, ANTIGONE.




 Child of an old blind sire, Antigone,

 What region, say, whose city have we reached?

 Who will provide today with scanted dole

 This wanderer? 'Tis little that he craves,

 And less obtains--that less enough for me;

 For I am taught by suffering to endure,

 And the long years that have grown old with me,

 And last not least, by true nobility.

 My daughter, if thou seest a resting place

 On common ground or by some sacred grove,

 Stay me and set me down. Let us discover

 Where we have come, for strangers must inquire

 Of denizens, and do as they are bid.


Child of an old blind father, Antigone,

What country, what city have we reached?

Who will give a little something

To this wanderer?  He wants little,

And gets less – but it’s enough for me;

I have been taught to accept hardship by suffering,

By the long years I have lived

And most of all by true nobility.

My daughter, if you see a place to rest

On common ground or by some holy grove

The stop me and let me sit.  Let us find out

Where we are, for strangers must question

Locals, and do as they are told.




 Long-suffering father, Oedipus, the towers

 That fence the city still are faint and far;

 But where we stand is surely holy ground;

 A wilderness of laurel, olive, vine;

 Within a choir of songster nightingales

 Are warbling. On this native seat of rock

 Rest; for an old man thou hast traveled far.


My long suffering father, Oedipus, the battlements

That surround the city are faint and for off,

But we are surely in a holy place,

A wilderness of laurel, olive and vine;

A choir of nightingales are singing inside.

Use this natural rock seat

And rest; you have traveled far for an old man.




 Guide these dark steps and seat me there secure.


Guide my blind steps and sit me down safely.




 If time can teach, I need not to be told.


I don’t need telling, if experience is any use.




 Say, prithee, if thou knowest, where we are.


Please tell me, if you know, where we are.




 Athens I recognize, but not the spot.


I know we’re in Athens, but not where.




 That much we heard from every wayfarer.


We’ve heard that much from every passerby.




 Shall I go on and ask about the place?


Shall I go on and ask?




 Yes, daughter, if it be inhabited.


Yes, daughter, if there’s anyone there.




 Sure there are habitations; but no need

 To leave thee; yonder is a man hard by.


There are certainly houses, but I need not

Leave you, there’s a man over there.




 What, moving hitherward and on his way?


What, coming this way?




 Say rather, here already. Ask him straight

 The needful questions, for the man is here.




Actually he’s here already.  Ask him your questions,

He’s right here.




 O stranger, as I learn from her whose eyes

 Must serve both her and me, that thou art here

 Sent by some happy chance to serve our doubts--


Oh stranger, I learn from her whose sight

Has to serve us both that you are here,

Sent by a happy chance to answer our questions –




 First quit that seat, then question me at large:

 The spot thou treadest on is holy ground.


First get off that seat, then ask all you want;

You are walking on holy ground.




 What is the site, to what god dedicate?


What is the place, what god is it dedicated to?




 Inviolable, untrod; goddesses,

 Dread brood of Earth and Darkness, here abide.


It is sacred, an untrodden; the fearsome goddesses

Of Earth and Darkness live here.




 Tell me the awful name I should invoke?


Tell me what terrible name I should use?




 The Gracious Ones, All-seeing, so our folk

 Call them, but elsewhere other names are rife.


We call them the Gracious Ones, the All-seeing,

But they have other names with other people.




 Then may they show their suppliant grace, for I

 From this your sanctuary will ne'er depart.


Then may they show their petitioner mercy, for I

Will never leave this sanctuary of yours.




 What word is this?


What are you saying?




 The watchword of my fate.


I am speaking of my fate.




 Nay, 'tis not mine to bid thee hence without

 Due warrant and instruction from the State.


No, it’s not my place to tell you to go without

Permission and orders from the State.




 Now in god's name, O stranger, scorn me not

 As a wayfarer; tell me what I crave.


Now for god’s sake, stranger, don’t reject me

As a traveler; tell me what I ask.




 Ask; your request shall not be scorned by me.


Ask, I will not deny what you want.




 How call you then the place wherein we bide?


Then tell me what you call this place?




 Whate'er I know thou too shalt know; the place

 Is all to great Poseidon consecrate.

 Hard by, the Titan, he who bears the torch,

 Prometheus, has his worship; but the spot

 Thou treadest, the Brass-footed Threshold named,

 Is Athens' bastion, and the neighboring lands

 Claim as their chief and patron yonder knight

 Colonus, and in common bear his name.

 Such, stranger, is the spot, to fame unknown,

 But dear to us its native worshipers.


Whatever I know you can know too; this place

Is all dedicated to great Poseidon.

Close by the Titan who holds the torch,

Prometheus, is worshipped, but the spot

You walk on, called the Brass-footed threshold,

Is Athens’ border, and the neighboring lands

Claim as their leader and protector the knight

Colonus, and they take their name from him.

This is where you are, stranger, not well known

But dear to us, its native worshippers.
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