OEDIPUS: When my enemy moves against me quickly, plots in secret, I move quickly too, I must, I plot andpay him back. Relax my guard a moment, waiting his next move—he wins his objective, I lose mine. CREON: What do you want? You want me banished? OEDIPUS: No, I want you dead. CREON: Just to show how ugly a grudge can . . . OEDIPUS: So, still stubborn? you don’t think I’m serious? CREON: I think you’re insane. OEDIPUS: Quite sane—in my behalf. CREON: Not just as much in mine? OEDIPUS:
You—my mortal enemy? CREON: What if you’re wholly wrong? OEDIPUS: No matter—I must rule.CREON: Not if you rule unjustly. OEDIPUS: Hear him, Thebes, my city! CREON: My city too, not yours alone! LEADER: Please, my lords. (Enter JOCASTA from the palace.) Look, JOCASTA’s coming, and just in time too. With her help you must put this fighting of yours to rest. JOCASTA: Have you no sense? Poor misguided men, such shouting—why this public outburst? Aren’t you ashamed, with the land so sick, to stir up private quarrels? (To OEDIPUS) Into the palace now. And CREON, you go home. Why make such a furor over nothing? CREON: My sister, it’s dreadful . . . OEDIPUS, your husband, he’s bent on a choice of punishments for me, banishment from the fatherland or death. OEDIPUS: Precisely. I caught him in the act, JOCASTA, plotting, about to stab me in the back. CREON:
Never—curse me, let me die and be damned if I’ve done you any wrong you charge me with. JOCASTA: Oh god, believe it, OEDIPUS, honor the solemn oath he swears to heaven. Do it for me, for the sake of all your people. (The CHORUS begins to chant.) CHORUS: Believe it, be sensible give way, my king, I beg you! OEDIPUS: What do you want from me, concessions? CHORUS: Respect him—he’s been no fool in the past and now he’s strong with the oath he swears to god.OEDIPUS: You know what you’re asking? CHORUS: I do. OEDIPUS: Then out with it! CHORUS: The man’s your friend, your kin, he’s under oath— don’t cast him out, disgraced branded with guilt on the strength of hearsay only. OEDIPUS: Know full well, if that is what you want, you want me dead or banished from the land. CHORUS: Never— no, by the blazing Sun, first god of the heavens! Stripped of the gods, stripped of loved ones, let me die by inches if that ever crossed my mind. But the heart inside me sickens, dies asthe land dies and now on top of the old griefs you pile this, your fury—both of you! OEDIPUS: Then let him go, even if it does lead to my ruin, my death or my disgrace, driven from Thebes for life. It’s you, not him I pity—your words move me. He, wherever he goes, my hate goes with
him. CREON: Look at you, sullen in yielding, brutal in your rage— you will go too far. It’s perfect justice:natures like yours are hardest on themselves. OEDIPUS: Then leave me alone—get out! CREON: I’m going. You’re wrong, so wrong. These men know I’m right. (Exit to the side.) (The CHORUS turns to JOCASTA.) CHORUS: Why do you hesitate, my lady why not help him in?