Page:Sophocles - Seven Plays, 1900.djvu/42

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Leader of Chorus.
But look! where Creon in his new-made power,
Moved by the fortune of the recent hour,
Comes with fresh counsel. What intelligence
Intends he for our private conference,
That he hath sent his herald to us all,
Gathering the elders with a general call?

Creon. My friends, the noble vessel of our State,
After sore shaking her, the Gods have sped
On a smooth course once more. I have
called you hither,
By special messengers selecting you
From all the city, first, because I knew you
Aye loyal to the throne of Laïus;
Then, both while Oedipus gave prosperous days,
And since his fall, I still beheld you firm
In sound allegiance to the royal issue.
Now since the pair have perished in an hour,
Twinned in misfortune, by a mutual stroke
Staining our land with fratricidal blood,
All rule and potency of sovereign sway,
In virtue of next kin to the deceased,
Devolves on me. But hard it is to learn
The mind of any mortal or the heart,
Till he be tried in chief authority.
Power shows the man. For he who when supreme
Withholds his hand or voice from the best cause,
Being thwarted by some fear, that man to me
Appears, and ever hath appeared, most vile.
He too hath no high place in mine esteem,
Who sets his friend before his fatherland.
Let Zeus whose eye sees all eternally
Be here my witness. I will ne’er keep silence
When danger lours upon my citizens
Who looked for safety, nor make him my friend
Who doth not love my country. For I know
Our country carries us, and whilst her helm
Is held aright we gain good friends and true.