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Sophocles (c.496 B.C.–406 B.C.). Antigone.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Lines 1–499

ANTIGONEISMENE, mine own sister, dearest one;<DRAMA=”2″>Is there, of all the ills of Œdipus,<DRAMA=”3″>One left that Zeus will fail to bring on us,<DRAMA=”4″>While still we live? for nothing is there sad<DRAMA=”5″>Or full of woe, or base, or fraught with shame,<DRAMA=”6″>But I have seen it in thy woes and mine.<DRAMA=”7″>And now, what new decree is this they tell,<DRAMA=”8″>Our ruler has enjoined on all the state?<DRAMA=”9″>Know’st thou? hast heard? or is it hid from thee,<DRAMA=”10″>The doom of foes that comes upon thy friends?<DRAMA=”11″>ISM.No tidings of our friends, Antigone,<DRAMA=”12″>Painful or pleasant since that hour have come<DRAMA=”13″>When we, two sisters, lost our brothers twain,<DRAMA=”14″>In one day dying by each other’s hand.<DRAMA=”15″>And since in this last night the Argive host<DRAMA=”16″>Has left the field, I nothing further know,<DRAMA=”17″>Nor brightening fortune, nor increasing gloom.<DRAMA=”18″>ANTIG.That knew I well, and therefore sent for thee<DRAMA=”19″>Beyond the gates, that thou mayst hear alone.<DRAMA=”20″>ISM.What meanest thou? It is but all too clear<DRAMA=”21″>Thou broodest darkly o’er some tale of woe.<DRAMA=”22″>ANTIG.And does not Creon treat our brothers twain<DRAMA=”23″>One with the rites of burial, one with shame?<DRAMA=”24″>Eteocles, so say they, he interred<DRAMA=”25″>Fitly, with wonted rites, as one held meet<DRAMA=”26″>To pass with honour to the gloom below.<DRAMA=”27″>But for the corpse of Polynices, slain<DRAMA=”28″>So piteously, they say, he has proclaimed<DRAMA=”29″>To all the citizens, that none should give<DRAMA=”30″>His body burial, or bewail his fate,<DRAMA=”31″>But leave it still unsepulchred, unwept,<DRAMA=”32″>A prize full rich for birds that scent afar<DRAMA=”33″>Their sweet repast. So Creon bids, they say,<DRAMA=”34″>Creon the good, commanding thee and me,<DRAMA=”35″>Yes, me, I say, and now is coming here,<DRAMA=”36″>To make it clear to those who knew it not,<DRAMA=”37″>And counts the matter not a trivial thing;<DRAMA=”38″>But whoso does the things that he forbids,<DRAMA=”39″>For him, there waits within the city’s walls<DRAMA=”40″>The death of stoning. Thus, then, stands thy case;<DRAMA=”41″>And quickly thou wilt show, if thou art born<DRAMA=”42″>Of noble nature, or degenerate liv’st,<DRAMA=”43″>Base child of honoured parents.<DRAMA=”44″>ISM.How could I,<DRAMA=”45″>O daring in thy mood, in this our plight,<DRAMA=”46″>Or doing or undoing, aught avail?<DRAMA=”47″>ANTIG.Wilt thou with me share risk and toil? Look to it.<DRAMA=”48″>ISM.What risk is this? What purpose fills thy mind?<DRAMA=”49″>ANTIG.Wilt thou with me go forth to help the dead?<DRAMA=”50″>ISM.And dost thou mean to give him sepulture,<DRAMA=”51″>When all have been forbidden?<DRAMA=”52″>ANTIG.He is still<DRAMA=”53″>My brother; yes, and thine, though thou, it seems,<DRAMA=”54″>Wouldst fain he were not. I desert him not.<DRAMA=”55″>ISM.O daring one, when Creon bids thee not!<DRAMA=”56″>ANTIG.What right has he to keep me from mine own?<DRAMA=”57″>ISM.Ah me! remember, sister, how our sire<DRAMA=”58″>Perished, with hate o’erwhelmed and infamy,<DRAMA=”59″>From evils that he brought upon himself,<DRAMA=”60″>And with his own hand robbed himself of sight,<DRAMA=”61″>And how his wife and mother, both in one,<DRAMA=”62″>With twist and cordage, cast away her life;<DRAMA=”63″>And thirdly, how our brothers in one day<DRAMA=”64″>In suicidal conflict wrought the doom,<DRAMA=”65″>Each of the other. And we twain are left;<DRAMA=”66″>And think, how much more wretchedly than all<DRAMA=”67″>We twain shall perish, if, against the law,<DRAMA=”68″>We brave our sovereign’s edict and his power.<DRAMA=”69″>For this we need remember, we were born<DRAMA=”70″>Women; as such, not made to strive with men.<DRAMA=”71″>And next, that they who reign surpass in strength,<DRAMA=”72″>And we must bow to this, and worse than this.<DRAMA=”73″>I, then, entreating those that dwell below,<DRAMA=”74″>To judge me leniently, as forced to yield,<DRAMA=”75″>Will hearken to our rulers. Over-zeal<DRAMA=”76″>In act or word but little wisdom shows.<DRAMA=”77″>ANTIG.I would not ask thee. No! if thou shouldst wish<DRAMA=”78″>To do it, and wouldst gladly join with me.<DRAMA=”79″>Do what thou wilt, I go to bury him;<DRAMA=”80″>And good it were, this having done, to die.<DRAMA=”81″>Loved I shall be with him whom I have loved,<DRAMA=”82″>Guilty of holiest crime. More time have I<DRAMA=”83″>In which to win the favour of the dead,<DRAMA=”84″>Than that of those who live; for I shall rest<DRAMA=”85″>For ever there. But thou, if thus thou please,<DRAMA=”86″>Count as dishonoured what the Gods approve.<DRAMA=”87″>ISM.I do them no dishonour, but I find<DRAMA=”88″>Myself too weak to war against the state.<DRAMA=”89″>ANTIG.Make what excuse thou wilt, I go to rear<DRAMA=”90″>A grave above the brother whom I love.<DRAMA=”91″>ISM.Ah, wretched me! how much I fear for thee.<DRAMA=”92″>ANTIG.Fear not for me. Thine own fate guide aright.<DRAMA=”93″>ISM.At any rate, disclose this deed to none:<DRAMA=”94″>Keep it close hidden. I will hide it too.<DRAMA=”95″>ANTIG.Speak out! I bid thee. Silent, thou wilt be<DRAMA=”96″>More hateful to me than if thou shouldst tell<DRAMA=”97″>My deed to all men.<DRAMA=”98″>ISM.Fiery is thy mood,<DRAMA=”99″>Although thy deeds might chill the very blood.<DRAMA=”100″>ANTIG.I know I please the souls I seek to please.<DRAMA=”101″>ISM.If thou canst do it; but thy passion craves<DRAMA=”102″>For things impossible.<DRAMA=”103″>ANTIG.I’ll cease to strive<DRAMA=”104″>When strength shall fail me.<DRAMA=”105″>ISM.Even from the first,<DRAMA=”106″>It is not meet to seek what may not be.<DRAMA=”107″>ANTIG.If thou speak thus, my hatred wilt thou gain,<DRAMA=”108″>And rightly wilt be hated of the dead.<DRAMA=”109″>Leave me and my ill counsel to endure<DRAMA=”110″>This dreadful doom. I shall not suffer aught<DRAMA=”111″>So evil as a death dishonourable.<DRAMA=”112″>ISM.Go, then, if so thou wilt. Of this be sure,<DRAMA=”113″>Wild as thou art, thy friends must love thee still.[Exeunt.<DRAMA=”114″>
Enter Chorus
Chor.Ray of the glorious sun,<DRAMA=”115″>Brightest of all that ever shone on Thebes,<DRAMA=”116″>Thebes with her seven high gates,<DRAMA=”117″>Thou didst appear that day,<DRAMA=”118″>Eye of the golden dawn,<DRAMA=”119″>O’er Dirkè’s streams advancing,<DRAMA=”120″>Driving with quickened curb,<DRAMA=”121″>In haste of headlong flight,<DRAMA=”122″>The warrior who, in panoply of proof,<DRAMA=”123″>From Argos came, with shield as white as snow;<DRAMA=”124″>Who came to this our land,<DRAMA=”125″>Roused by the strife of tongues<DRAMA=”126″>That Polynices stirred;<DRAMA=”127″>Shrieking his shrill sharp cry,<DRAMA=”128″>The eagle hovered round,<DRAMA=”129″>With snow-white wing bedecked,<DRAMA=”130″>Begirt with myriad arms,<DRAMA=”131″>And flowing horsehair crests.<DRAMA=”132″>
He stood above our towers,<DRAMA=”133″>Circling, with blood-stained spears,<DRAMA=”134″>The portals of our gates;<DRAMA=”135″>He went, before he filled<DRAMA=”136″>His jaws with blood of men,<DRAMA=”137″>Before Hephæstus with his pitchy flame<DRAMA=”138″>Had seized our crown of towers.<DRAMA=”139″>So loud the battle din that Ares loves,<DRAMA=”140″>Was raised around his rear,<DRAMA=”141″>A conflict hard and stiff,<DRAMA=”142″>E’en for his dragon foe.<DRAMA=”143″>For breath of haughty speech<DRAMA=”144″>Zeus hateth evermore exceedingly;<DRAMA=”145″>And seeing them advance,<DRAMA=”146″>Exulting in the clang of golden arms,<DRAMA=”147″>With brandished fire he hurls them headlong down,<DRAMA=”148″>In act, upon the topmost battlement<DRAMA=”149″>Rushing, with eager step,<DRAMA=”150″>To shout out, ‘Victory!’<DRAMA=”151″>
Crashing to earth he fell,<DRAMA=”152″>Who came, with madman’s haste,<DRAMA=”153″>Drunken, but not with wine,<DRAMA=”154″>And swept o’er us with blasts,<DRAMA=”155″>The whirlwind blasts of hate.<DRAMA=”156″>Thus on one side they fare,<DRAMA=”157″>And mighty Ares, bounding in his strength,<DRAMA=”158″>Dashing now here, now there,<DRAMA=”159″>Elsewhere brought other fate.<DRAMA=”160″>For seven chief warriors at the seven gates met,<DRAMA=”161″>Equals with equals matched,<DRAMA=”162″>To Zeus, the Lord of War,<DRAMA=”163″>Left tribute, arms of bronze;<DRAMA=”164″>All but the hateful ones<DRAMA=”165″>Who, from one father and one mother sprung,<DRAMA=”166″>Stood wielding, hand to hand,<DRAMA=”167″>Their doubly pointed spears;<DRAMA=”168″>They had their doom of death,<DRAMA=”169″>In common, shared by both.<DRAMA=”170″>
But now, since Victory, of mightiest name,<DRAMA=”171″>Hath come to Thebes, of many chariots proud,<DRAMA=”172″>Joying and giving joy,<DRAMA=”173″>After these wars just past,<DRAMA=”174″>Learn ye forgetfulness,<DRAMA=”175″>And all night long, with dance and voice of hymns<DRAMA=”176″>Let us go round to all the shrines of Gods,<DRAMA=”177″>While Bacchus, making Thebes resound with shouts,<DRAMA=”178″>Begins the strain of joy;<DRAMA=”179″>But, lo! the sovereign of this land of ours,<DRAMA=”180″>CREON, Menœkeus’ son,<DRAMA=”181″>He, whom strange change and chances from the God<DRAMA=”182″>Have nobly raised to power,<DRAMA=”183″>Comes to us, steering on some new device;<DRAMA=”184″>For, lo! he hath convened,<DRAMA=”185″>By herald’s loud command,<DRAMA=”186″>This council of the elders of our land.<DRAMA=”187″>
CREON.My Friends, for what concerns our commonwealth,<DRAMA=”188″>The Gods who vexed it with the billowing storms<DRAMA=”189″>Have righted it again; but I have sent,<DRAMA=”190″>By special summons, calling you to come<DRAMA=”191″>Apart from all the others, This, in part,<DRAMA=”192″>As knowing ye did all along uphold<DRAMA=”193″>The might of Laius’ throne, in part again,<DRAMA=”194″>Because when Œdipus our country ruled,<DRAMA=”195″>And, when he perished, then towards his sons<DRAMA=”196″>Ye still were faithful in your steadfast mind.<DRAMA=”197″>And since they fell, as by a double death,<DRAMA=”198″>Both on the selfsame day with murderous blow,<DRAMA=”199″>Smiting and being smitten, now I hold<DRAMA=”200″>Their thrones and all their power of sov’reignty<DRAMA=”201″>By nearness of my kindred to the dead.<DRAMA=”202″>And hard it is to learn what each man is,<DRAMA=”203″>In heart and mind and judgment, till one gains<DRAMA=”204″>Experience in the exercise of power.<DRAMA=”205″>For me, whoe’er is called to guide a state,<DRAMA=”206″>And does not catch at counsels wise and good,<DRAMA=”207″>But holds his peace through any fear of man,<DRAMA=”208″>I deem him basest of all men that are,<DRAMA=”209″>Of all that ever have been; and whoe’er<DRAMA=”210″>As worthier than his country counts his friend,<DRAMA=”211″>I utterly despise him. I myself,<DRAMA=”212″>Zeus be my witness, who beholdeth all,<DRAMA=”213″>Will not keep silence, seeing danger come,<DRAMA=”214″>Instead of safety, to my subjects true.<DRAMA=”215″>Nor could I take as friend my country’s foe;<DRAMA=”216″>For this I know, that there our safety lies,<DRAMA=”217″>And sailing in her while she holds her course,<DRAMA=”218″>We gather friends around us. By these rules<DRAMA=”219″>And such as these will I maintain the state.<DRAMA=”220″>And now I come, with edicts close allied<DRAMA=”221″>To these in spirit, for my subjects all,<DRAMA=”222″>Concerning those two sons of Œdipus.<DRAMA=”223″>Eteocles, who died in deeds of might<DRAMA=”224″>Illustrious, fighting for our fatherland,<DRAMA=”225″>To honour him with sepulture, all rites<DRAMA=”226″>Duly performed that to the noblest dead<DRAMA=”227″>Of right belong. Not so his brother; him<DRAMA=”228″>I speak of, Polynices, who, returned<DRAMA=”229″>From exile, sought with fire and sword to waste<DRAMA=”230″>His father’s city and the shrines of Gods,<DRAMA=”231″>Yea, sought to glut his rage with blood of men,<DRAMA=”232″>And lead them captives to the bondslave’s doom;<DRAMA=”233″>Him I decree that none should dare entomb,<DRAMA=”234″>That none should utter wail or loud lament,<DRAMA=”235″>But leave his corpse unburied, by the dogs<DRAMA=”236″>And vultures mangled, foul to look upon.<DRAMA=”237″>Such is my purpose. Ne’er, if I can help,<DRAMA=”238″>Shall the vile share the honours of the just;<DRAMA=”239″>But whoso shows himself my country’s friend,<DRAMA=”240″>Living or dead, from me shall honour gain.<DRAMA=”241″>Chor.This is thy pleasure, O Menœkeus’ son,<DRAMA=”242″>For him who hated, him who loved our state;<DRAMA=”243″>And thou hast power to make what laws thou wilt,<DRAMA=”244″>Both for the dead and all of us who live.<DRAMA=”245″>CREON.Be ye, then, guardians of the things I speak.<DRAMA=”246″>Chor.Commit this task to one of younger years.<DRAMA=”247″>CREON.The watchmen are appointed for the corpse.<DRAMA=”248″>Chor.What duty, then, enjoin’st thou on another?<DRAMA=”249″>CREON.Not to consent with those that disobey.<DRAMA=”250″>Chor.None are so foolish as to seek for death.<DRAMA=”251″>CREON.And that shall be his doom; but love of gain<DRAMA=”252″>Hath oft with false hopes lured men to their death.<DRAMA=”253″>
Enter Guard
GUARD.I will not say, O king, that I am come<DRAMA=”254″>Panting with speed and plying nimble feet,<DRAMA=”255″>For I had many halting-points of thought,<DRAMA=”256″>Backwards and forwards turning, round and round;<DRAMA=”257″>For now my mind would give me sage advice:<DRAMA=”258″>“Poor wretch, and wilt thou go and bear the blame?”<DRAMA=”259″>Or—“Dost thou tarry now? Shall Creon know<DRAMA=”260″>These things from others? How wilt thou escape?”<DRAMA=”261″>Resolving thus, I came in haste, yet slow,<DRAMA=”262″>And thus a short way finds itself prolonged,<DRAMA=”263″>But, last of all, to come to thee prevailed.<DRAMA=”264″>And though I tell of naught, thou shalt hear all;<DRAMA=”265″>For this one hope I cling to steadfastly,<DRAMA=”266″>That I shall suffer nothing but my fate.<DRAMA=”267″>CREON.What is it, then, that causes such dismay?<DRAMA=”268″>GUARD.First, for mine own share in it, this I say,<DRAMA=”269″>I did not do it, do not know who did,<DRAMA=”270″>Nor should I rightly come to ill for it.<DRAMA=”271″>CREON.Thou tak’st good aim and fencest up thy tale<DRAMA=”272″>All round and round. ’Twould seem thou hast some news.<DRAMA=”273″>GUARD.Yea, news of fear engenders long delay.<DRAMA=”274″>CREON.Tell thou thy tale, and then depart in peace.<DRAMA=”275″>GUARD.And speak I will. The corpse … Some one has been<DRAMA=”276″>But now and buried it, a little dust<DRAMA=”277″>O’er the skin scattering, with the wonted rites.<DRAMA=”278″>CREON.What say’st thou? Who has dared this deed of guilt?<DRAMA=”279″>GUARD.I know not. Neither was there stroke of spade,<DRAMA=”280″>Nor earth cast up by mattock. All the soil<DRAMA=”281″>Was dry and hard, no track of chariot wheel;<DRAMA=”282″>But he who did it went and left no sign.<DRAMA=”283″>But when the first day’s watchman showed it us,<DRAMA=”284″>The sight caused wonder and sore grief to all,<DRAMA=”285″>For he had disappeared. No tomb, indeed,<DRAMA=”286″>Was over him, but dust all lightly strown,<DRAMA=”287″>As by some hand that shunned defiling guilt;<DRAMA=”288″>And no work was there of a beast of prey<DRAMA=”289″>Or dog devouring. Evil words arose<DRAMA=”290″>Among us, guard to guard imputing blame,<DRAMA=”291″>Which might have come to blows, for none was there<DRAMA=”292″>To check its course, and each to each appeared<DRAMA=”293″>The man whose hand had done it. As for proof,<DRAMA=”294″>That there was none, and so he ’scaped our ken.<DRAMA=”295″>And we were ready in our hands to take<DRAMA=”296″>Bars of hot iron, and to walk through fire,<DRAMA=”297″>And call the Gods to witness none of us<DRAMA=”298″>Had done the deed, nor knew who counselled it,<DRAMA=”299″>Nor who had wrought it. Then at last, when naught<DRAMA=”300″>Was gained by all our searching, some one says<DRAMA=”301″>What made us bend our gaze upon the ground<DRAMA=”302″>In fear and trembling; for we neither saw<DRAMA=”303″>How to oppose it, nor, accepting it,<DRAMA=”304″>How we might prosper in it. And his speech<DRAMA=”305″>Was this, that all our tale should go to thee,<DRAMA=”306″>Not hushed up anywise. This gained the day;<DRAMA=”307″>And me, ill-starred, the lot condemns to win<DRAMA=”308″>This precious prize. So here I come to thee<DRAMA=”309″>Against my will; and surely do I trow<DRAMA=”310″>Thou dost not wish to see me. Still ’tis true<DRAMA=”311″>That no man loves the messenger of ill.<DRAMA=”312″>Chor.For me, my prince, my mind some time has thought<DRAMA=”313″>That this perchance has some divine intent.<DRAMA=”314″>CREON.Cease thou, before thou fillest me with wrath,<DRAMA=”315″>Lest thou be found a dastard and a fool.<DRAMA=”316″>For what thou say’st is most intolerable,<DRAMA=”317″>That for this corpse the providence of Gods<DRAMA=”318″>Has any care. What! have they buried him,<DRAMA=”319″>As to their patron paying honours high,<DRAMA=”320″>Who came to waste their columned shrines with fire,<DRAMA=”321″>To desecrate their offerings and their lands,<DRAMA=”322″>And all their wonted customs? Dost thou see<DRAMA=”323″>The Gods approving men of evil deeds?<DRAMA=”324″>It is not so; but men of rebel mood,<DRAMA=”325″>Lifting their head in secret long ago,<DRAMA=”326″>Have stirred this thing against me. Never yet<DRAMA=”327″>Had they their neck beneath the yoke, content<DRAMA=”328″>To own me as their ruler. They, I know,<DRAMA=”329″>Have bribed these men to let the deed be done.<DRAMA=”330″>No thing in use by man, for power of ill,<DRAMA=”331″>Can equal money. This lays cities low,<DRAMA=”332″>This drives men forth from quiet dwelling-place,<DRAMA=”333″>This warps and changes minds of worthiest stamp,<DRAMA=”334″>To turn to deeds of baseness, teaching men<DRAMA=”335″>All shifts of cunning, and to know the guilt<DRAMA=”336″>Of every impious deed. But they who, hired,<DRAMA=”337″>Have wrought this crime, have laboured to their cost,<DRAMA=”338″>Or soon or late to pay the penalty.<DRAMA=”339″>But if Zeus still claims any awe from me,<DRAMA=”340″>Know this, and with an oath I tell it thee,<DRAMA=”341″>Unless ye find the very man whose hand<DRAMA=”342″>Has wrought this burial, and before mine eyes<DRAMA=”343″>Present him captive, death shall not suffice,<DRAMA=”344″>Till first, impaled still living, ye shall show<DRAMA=”345″>The story of this outrage, that henceforth,<DRAMA=”346″>Knowing what gain is lawful, ye may grasp<DRAMA=”347″>At that, and learn it is not meet to love<DRAMA=”348″>Gain from all quarters. By base profit won,<DRAMA=”349″>You will see more destroyed than prospering.<DRAMA=”350″>GUARD.May I, then speak? Or shall I turn and go?<DRAMA=”351″>CREON.Dost thou not see how vexing are thy words?<DRAMA=”352″>GUARD.Is it thine ears they trouble, or thy soul?<DRAMA=”353″>CREON.Why dost thou gauge my trouble where it is?<DRAMA=”354″>GUARD.The doer grieves thy heart, but I thine ears.<DRAMA=”355″>CREON.Pshaw! what a babbler, born to prate, art thou.<DRAMA=”356″>GUARD.And therefore not the man to do this deed.<DRAMA=”357″>CREON.Yes, that too; selling e’en thy soul for pay.<DRAMA=”358″>GUARD.Ah me!<DRAMA=”359″>How fearful ’tis, in thinking, false to think.<DRAMA=”360″>CREON.Prate about thinking; but unless ye show<DRAMA=”361″>To me the doers, ye shall say ere long<DRAMA=”362″>That evil gains still work their punishment.[Exit.<DRAMA=”363″>GUARD.God send we find him! Should we find him not,<DRAMA=”364″>As well may be, for this must chance decide,<DRAMA=”365″>You will not see me coming here again;<DRAMA=”366″>For now, being safe beyond all hope of mine,<DRAMA=”367″>Beyond all thought, I owe the Gods much thanks.[Exit.<DRAMA=”368″>
Chor.Many the forms of life,<DRAMA=”369″>Fearful and strange to see,<DRAMA=”370″>But man supreme stands out,<DRAMA=”371″>For strangeness and for fear.<DRAMA=”372″>He, with the wintry gales,<DRAMA=”373″>O’er the foam-crested sea,<DRAMA=”374″>’Mid billows surging round,<DRAMA=”375″>Tracketh his way across:<DRAMA=”376″>Earth, of all Gods, from ancient days, the first,<DRAMA=”377″>Mightiest and undecayed,<DRAMA=”378″>He, with his circling plough,<DRAMA=”379″>Wears ever year by year.<DRAMA=”380″>
The thoughtless tribe of birds,<DRAMA=”381″>The beasts that roam the fields,<DRAMA=”382″>The finny brood of ocean’s depths,<DRAMA=”383″>He takes them all in nets of knotted mesh,<DRAMA=”384″>Man, wonderful in skill.<DRAMA=”385″>And by his arts he holds in sway<DRAMA=”386″>The wild beasts on the mountain’s height;<DRAMA=”387″>And brings the neck-encircling yoke<DRAMA=”388″>On horse with shaggy mane,<DRAMA=”389″>Or bull that walks untamed upon the hills.<DRAMA=”390″>
And speech, and thought as swift as wind,<DRAMA=”391″>And tempered mood for higher life of states,<DRAMA=”392″>These he has learnt, and how to flee<DRAMA=”393″>The stormy sleet of frost unkind,<DRAMA=”394″>The tempest thunderbolts of Zeus.<DRAMA=”395″>So all-preparing, unprepared<DRAMA=”396″>He meeteth naught the coming days may bring;<DRAMA=”397″>Only from Hades, still<DRAMA=”398″>He fails to find a refuge at the last,<DRAMA=”399″>Though skill of art may teach him to escape<DRAMA=”400″>From depths of fell disease incurable.<DRAMA=”401″>
So, gifted with a wondrous might,<DRAMA=”402″>Above all fancy’s dreams, with skill to plan,<DRAMA=”403″>Now unto evil, now to good,<DRAMA=”404″>He wends his way. Now holding fast the laws,<DRAMA=”405″>His country’s sacred rights,<DRAMA=”406″>That rest upon the oath of Gods on high,<DRAMA=”407″>High in the state he stands.<DRAMA=”408″>An outlaw and an exile he who loves<DRAMA=”409″>The thing that is not good,<DRAMA=”410″>In wilful pride of soul:<DRAMA=”411″>Ne’er may he sit beside my hearth,<DRAMA=”412″>Ne’er may my thoughts be like to his,<DRAMA=”413″>Who worketh deeds like this.<DRAMA=”414″>
Enter Guards, bringing in ANTIGONE
As to this portent which the Gods have sent,<DRAMA=”415″>I stand in doubt. Can I, who know her, say<DRAMA=”416″>That this is not the maid Antigone?<DRAMA=”417″>O wretched one of wretched father born,<DRAMA=”418″>What means this? Surely ’tis not that they bring<DRAMA=”419″>Thee as a rebel ’gainst the king’s decree,<DRAMA=”420″>And taken in the folly of thine act?<DRAMA=”421″>GUARD.Yes! She it was by whom the deed was done.<DRAMA=”422″>We found her burying. Where is Creon, pray?<DRAMA=”423″>Chor.Forth from his palace comes he just in time.<DRAMA=”424″>
CREON.What chance is this with which my coming fits?<DRAMA=”425″>GUARD.Men, O my king, should pledge themselves to naught;<DRAMA=”426″>For cool reflection makes their purpose void.<DRAMA=”427″>I hardly thought to venture here again,<DRAMA=”428″>Cowed by thy threats, which then fell thick on me;<DRAMA=”429″>But since no joy is like the sweet delight<DRAMA=”430″>Which comes beyond, above, against our hopes,<DRAMA=”431″>I come, although I swore the contrary,<DRAMA=”432″>Bringing this maiden, whom in act we found<DRAMA=”433″>Decking the grave. No need for lots was now;<DRAMA=”434″>The prize was mine, no other claimed a share.<DRAMA=”435″>And now, O king, take her, and as thou wilt,<DRAMA=”436″>Judge and convict her. I can claim a right<DRAMA=”437″>To wash my hands of all this troublous coil.<DRAMA=”438″>CREON.How and where was it that ye seized and brought her?<DRAMA=”439″>GUARD.She was in act of burying. Now thou knowest<DRAMA=”440″>All that I have to tell.<DRAMA=”441″>CREON.And dost thou know<DRAMA=”442″>And rightly weigh the tale thou tellest me?<DRAMA=”443″>GUARD.I saw her burying that selfsame corpse<DRAMA=”444″>Thou bad’st us not to bury. Speak I clear?<DRAMA=”445″>CREON.How was she seen, detected, prisoner made?<DRAMA=”446″>GUARD.The matter passed as follows: When we came,<DRAMA=”447″>With all those dreadful threats of thine upon us,<DRAMA=”448″>Sweeping away the dust which, lightly spread,<DRAMA=”449″>Covered the corpse, and laying stript and bare<DRAMA=”450″>The tained carcase, on the hill we sat<DRAMA=”451″>To windward, shunning the infected air,<DRAMA=”452″>Each stirring up his fellow with strong words,<DRAMA=”453″>If any shirked his duty. This went on<DRAMA=”454″>Some time, until the glowing orb of day<DRAMA=”455″>Stood in mid-heaven, and the scorching heat<DRAMA=”456″>Fell on us. Then a sudden whirlwind rose,<DRAMA=”457″>A scourge from heaven, raising squalls on earth,<DRAMA=”458″>And filled the plain, the leafage stripping bare<DRAMA=”459″>Of all the forest, and the air’s vast space<DRAMA=”460″>Was thick and troubled, and we closed our eyes<DRAMA=”461″>Until the plague the Gods had sent was past;<DRAMA=”462″>And when it ceased, a weary time being gone,<DRAMA=”463″>The girl was seen, and with a bitter cry,<DRAMA=”464″>Shrill as a bird’s, she wails, when it beholds<DRAMA=”465″>Its nest all emptied of its infant brood;<DRAMA=”466″>So she, when she beholds the corpse all stript,<DRAMA=”467″>Groaned loud with many moanings. And she called<DRAMA=”468″>Fierce curses down on those who did the deed,<DRAMA=”469″>And in her hand she brings some sandlike dust,<DRAMA=”470″>And from a well-chased ewer, all of bronze,<DRAMA=”471″>She pours the three libations o’er the dead.<DRAMA=”472″>And we, beholding, started up forthwith,<DRAMA=”473″>And run her down, in nothing terrified.<DRAMA=”474″>And then we charged her with the former deed,<DRAMA=”475″>As well as this. And nothing she denied.<DRAMA=”476″>But this to me both bitter is and sweet,<DRAMA=”477″>For to escape one’s-self from ill is sweet,<DRAMA=”478″>But to bring friends to trouble, this is hard<DRAMA=”479″>And bitter. Yet my nature bids me count<DRAMA=”480″>Above all these things safety for myself.<DRAMA=”481″>CREON.[to ANTIGONE] And thou, then, bending to the ground thy head,<DRAMA=”482″>Confessest thou, or dost deny the deed?<DRAMA=”483″>ANTIG.I own I did it. I will not deny.<DRAMA=”484″>CREON.[to GUARD] Go thou thy way, where’er thy will may choose,<DRAMA=”485″>Freed from a weighty charge.[Exit GUARD.<DRAMA=”486″>[To ANTIGONE] And now for thee,<DRAMA=”487″>Say in few words, not lengthening out thy speech,<DRAMA=”488″>Didst thou not know the edicts which forbade<DRAMA=”489″>The things thou ownest?<DRAMA=”490″>ANTIG.Right well I knew them all.<DRAMA=”491″>How could I not? Full clear and plain were they.<DRAMA=”492″>CREON.Didst thou, then, dare to disobey these laws?<DRAMA=”493″>ANTIG.Yes, for it was not Zeus who gave them forth,<DRAMA=”494″>Nor Justice, dwelling with the Gods below,<DRAMA=”495″>Who traced these laws for all the sons of men;<DRAMA=”496″>Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough,<DRAMA=”497″>Coming from mortal man, to set at naught<DRAMA=”498″>The unwritten laws of God that know not change.<DRAMA=”499″>They are not of to-day nor yesterday,