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71 Reading Passages: Classical

Classical Reading


To download this assignment as a pdf, click here: AGE Readings 22.

The play Seven against Thebes by Aeschylus dramatizes the battle between the two sons of Oedipus, Polynices and Eteocles for control of the city of Thebes. Polynices and an army headed by warriors from Argos (the “seven” of the title) are besieging the city, where Eteocles is mounting a defense. In one scene, Eteocles has an argument with a chorus of Theban women, as the attack begins. This section is a type of dialogue called in Greek “stichomythia,” where two parties exchange single lines in rapid fire.

καὶ μὴν ἀκούω γ’ ἱππικῶν φρυαγμάτων.

μή νυν ἀκούουσ’ ἐμφανῶς ἄκου’ ἄγαν.

Χο. στένει πόλισμα γῆθεν ὡς κυκλουμένων.

Ετ. οὐκοῦν ἔμ’ ἀρκεῖ τῶνδε βουλεύειν πέρι.

Χο. δέδοικ’, ἀραγμὸς δ’ ἐν πύλαις ὀφέλλεται.

Ετ. οὐ σῖγα μηδὲν τῶνδ’ ἐρεῖς κατὰ πτόλιν;

Χο. ὦ ξυντέλεια, μὴ προδῷς πυργώματα.

Ετ. οὐκ, ἐς φθόρον, σιγῶσ’ ἀνασχήσῃ τάδε;

Χο. θεοὶ πολῖται, μή με δουλείας τυχεῖν.

Ετ. αὐτὴ σὲ δουλοῖς κἀμὲ καὶ πᾶσαν πόλιν.

Χο. ὦ παγκρατὲς Ζεῦ, τρέψον εἰς ἐχθροὺς βέλος.

Ετ. ὦ Ζεῦ, γυναικῶν οἷον ὤπασας γένος.

Χο. μοχθηρόν, ὥσπερ ἄνδρας, ὧν ἁλῷ πόλις.

Ετ. παλινστομεῖς αὖ θιγγάνουσ’ ἀγαλμάτων;

Χο. ἀψυχίᾳ γὰρ γλῶσσαν ἁρπάζει φόβος.

Ετ. αἰτουμένῳ μοι κοῦφον εἰ δοίης τέλος,

Χο. λέγοις ἂν ὡς τάχιστα καὶ τάχ’ εἴσομαι.

Ετ. σίγησον, ὦ τάλαινα, μὴ φίλους φόβει.

Χο. σιγῶ· σὺν ἄλλοις πείσομαι τὸ μόρσιμον.

Aeschylus Seven against Thebes 245-63


ἄγαλμα –ατος τό statue

ἄγαν too much

ἁλῷ ~ ἑάλω < ἀλίσκομαι cf. αἱρέω

ἀνα–έχω hold back

ἀραγμός –οῦ ὁ clashing

ἀρκέω be strong enough

ἁρπάζω snatch

ἀψυχία –ας ἡ lack of courage

βέλος –ους τό dart, spear

γε intensifies and sharpens the previous word 

γῆθεν from the earth

δέδοικα I am afraid

δοίης “you would grant”

δουλεία –ας ἡ slavery

δουλόω enslave

εἴσομαι “I will know” fut. < οἶδα

ἐμφανής –ές visible

ἐς φθόρον “To hell with you!” (literally “into ruin”)

θιγγάνω touch

ἱππικός –ή –όν related to horses

καὶ μὴν this phrase introduces a new topic in conversation 

κἀμέ = καὶ ἐμέ

κοῦφος –η –ον light

κυκλόω encircle

λέγοις “you could say”

μόρσιμος –η –ον fated

μοχθηρός –ά –όν worn out

νυν now

ξυντέλεια –ας ἡ assembly (addressing statues of gods on stage)

οἷον exclamation: “What a…!”

οὐκοῦν sets up an expectation to agree

ὀπάζω make as attendants

ὀφέλλω increase

παγκρατής –ές all-powerful

παλινστομέω talk back, mouth off

πέρι accent indicates that this preposition takes a preceding object. 

πόλισμα –ατος τό ~ πόλις

πολίτης –ου ὁ citizen

προδῷς ~ προδοῦ

πτόλις ~ πόλις

πύλη –ης ἡ gate

πύργωμα –ατος τό tower

σῖγα silently

σιγάω be silent

στένω groan

τάλας –αινα –αν wretched

φρύαγμα –ατος τό snorting, neighing



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Reading Passages: Classical by Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.