Oedipus at Colonus Chorus–line 841 ff “Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Κρέων

σοὶ δ’ ἔγωγ’ ὁδοιπορεῖν.  [840]                                           ὁδοιπορεῖν:  note pun with Οἰδίπους

                And I–to you, TAKE A HIKE!                       ὁδοιπορεῖν:  pres inf act > ὁδοιπορέω

Χορός[1]

πρόβαθ’ ὦδε, βᾶτε βᾶτ’, ἔντοποι·                            πρόβαθ’:  2 prs pl aor imperat > προβαίνω

Step forward, forward, one and all.                                   βᾶτε:  2 prs pl aor imperat > βαίνω

πόλις ἐναίρεται, πόλις ἐμά, σθένει·  πρόβαθ’ ὧδε μοι.

Slayer of the city—my city, with force.  Gather round me.

Ἀντιγόνη

ἀφέλκομαι δύστηνος ,

ὦ ξένοι ξένοι.                     ἀφέλκομαι:  1 prs sg pres ind mp > ἀφέλκομαι  S.  OC 844

I am dragged away—wretched—Oh friends, friends!

Οἰδίπους

ποῦ τέκνον, εἰ μοι΄;

Where are you child—woe to me?

Ἀντιγόνη

πρὸς βίαν πορεύομαι.                                               πορεύομαι:  1 prs sg pres act mp > πορεύω

With force I am carried away.

 

In the song, TRUTH   becomes a transcendent value.  The   wrath that is war, has befallen America because the state has allowed slavery   as a legal right.  The soldiers are metonomy   for the Jews in Sinai gathering round the Mishkan—“a hundred circling camps   they have builded him an altar…”  The   rhythm of the song is much like a slashing sword.Like the ancient   Jewish right of Churban–חרבן—extermination of evil doers—so must those who believe slavery   a legal right be exterminatied—there can be no middle ground.

Note:  ‘his truth is marching on”—“his day is   marching on”—“God is marching on”…    Note the phrases: “His rightwous sentence,” “judgment seat” and “the   soul of wrong his slave.”  All of these   references are to eschatological judgment not only on individual salve   holders but on the nation as corporate entity.  “With a glory in his bosom that   transfigures you and me” speaks directly to the transcendent need for the war   to end slavery; transfiguring not only the individual but the State as well.

Dictates of the   state are measured against a standard that represents something beyond the State,   beyond exigencies of the time.  The   Nazi era of Germany comes readily to mind—as does any totalitarian state such   as Russia, China, North Korea, etc.

In the Oedipus   trilogy, the shift from personal evil to the state’s evil as epitomized by   Creon shifts from one person and place to another person and place.  (The whole point of the constant interplay   of ξένος—between host and guest.)  Oedipus kills his father and procreates   with his mother—thus he pollutes the State.    He is punished with exile for his crime.  Later Creon forbids Antigone to bury her   brother; she buries him despite the prohibition of the State.  (Nixon would use this argument:  since he is the President—what he commands   is legal.)

Need and command   to disobey the State is a central question to the Nazi era, as it was to the   Civil War, and as it is to almost every contemporary issue of the day.  It is a central though unasked question in   SOPHIE’S CHOICE.

(That the South   also sang this song written by Northerner and Abolitionist Julia Ward Howe,   confirms reality of a demonic parody of religion, patriotism to say nothing   of confirming the stupidity of humanity.)

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.


[1] F. Storr (Loeb)  To the rescue one and all!

Rally, neighbors to my call!

See, the foe is at the gate!

Rally to defend the State.

George F. Root:  “Yes, we’ll rally ‘round the flag, boys, We’ll rally one again, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom…. The Union forever, Hurrah boys, Hurrah!  Down with the traitors, Up with the stars!…”  George F. Cohan:  “Over there, over there, Send the word, send the word over there, That the Yanks are coming, The Yanks are coming, …”  While we might dismiss so many of these songs as jingoism gone wild, they oftentime summarize the moral imperative that a specific war represents.  Julia Ward Howe’s “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” summarized and summarizes with powerful imagery issues of the American Civil War.

About steventorrey

I have moral right to publish these documents, since I wrote them. They are original translations with commentary, or original comment on works of literature that were produced by my hand solely. Steven Torrey
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