Stop, my children, weep no more. Here where the dark forces store up kindness both for living and the dead, there is no room for grieving here—it might bring down the anger of the gods.
(Oedipus at Colonus, 1970–1974)
Theseus’s short speech from the end of Oedipus at Colonus argues that grieving might not be a good thing—a sentiment unusual in the Theban plays. Sophocles’ audience would have seen, before this speech, the most extreme consequences of excessive grief: Antigone’s death, Haemon’s death, Eurydice’s death, Jocasta’s death, Oedipus’s blinding, Oedipus’s self-exile. The rash actions of the grief-stricken possess both a horror and a sense of inevitability or rightness. Jocasta kills herself because she cannot go on living as both wife and mother to her son; Oedipus blinds himself in order to punish himself for his blindness to his identity; Eurydice can no longer live as the wife of the man who killed her children. Theseus’s speech calls attention to the fact that the violence that arises from this grieving only leads to the perpetuation of violence.
At the end of Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone and Ismene beg to be allowed to see their father’s tomb, to complete the process of their grieving at that spot. But Theseus insists on maintaining the secret as Oedipus wished. Unlike the other two Theban plays, death is in this play a point of rest, a point at which lamentation must stop rather than begin.