Page 2, Antigone by Sophocles, 441 BC

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ANTIGONE page 2


by Sophocles 441 BC.

translated by R. C. Jebb

ISMENE:
Thou wouldst bury him,-when 'tis forbidden to Thebes?

ANTIGONE:
I will do my part,-and thine, if thou wilt not,-to a brother. False to him will I never be found.

ISMENE:
Ah, over-bold! when Creon hath forbidden?

ANTIGONE:
Nay, he hath no right to keep me from mine own.

ISMENE:
Ah me! think, sister, how our father perished, amid hate and scorn, when sins bared by his own search had moved him to strike both eyes with self-blinding hand; then the mother wife, two names in one, with twisted noose did despite unto her life; and last, our two brothers in one day,-each shedding, hapless one, a kinsman's blood,-wrought out with mutual hands their common doom. And now we in turn-we two left all alone think how we shall perish, more miserably than all the rest, if, in defiance of the law, we brave a king's decree or his powers. Nay, we must remember, first, that we were born women, as who should not strive with men; next, that we are ruled of the stronger, so that we must obey in these things, and in things yet sorer. I, therefore, asking the Spirits Infernal to pardon, seeing that force is put on me herein, will hearken to our rulers. for 'tis witless to be over busy.

ANTIGONE:
I will not urge thee,-no nor, if thou yet shouldst have the mind, wouldst thou be welcome as a worker with me. Nay, be what thou wilt; but I will bury him: well for me to die in doing that. I shall rest, a loved one with him whom I have loved, sinless in my crime; for I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living: in that world I shall abide for ever. But if thou wilt, be guilty of dishonouring laws which the gods have stablished in honour.

ISMENE:
I do them no dishonour; but to defy the State,-I have no strength for that.

ANTIGONE:
Such be thy plea:-I, then, will go to heap the earth above the brother whom I love.

ISMENE:
Alas, unhappy one! How I fear for thee!

ANTIGONE:
Fear not for me: guide thine own fate aright.

ISMENE:
: At least, then, disclose this plan to none, but hide it closely,-and so, too, will I.

ANTIGONE:
Oh, denounce it! Thou wilt be far more hateful for thy silence, if thou proclaim not these things to all.

ISMENE:
Thou hast a hot heart for chilling deeds.

ANTIGONE:
I know that I please where I am most bound to please.

ISMENE:
Aye, if thou canst; but thou wouldst what thou canst not.

ANTIGONE:
Why, then, when my strength fails, I shall have done.

ISMENE:
A hopeless quest should not be made at all.

ANTIGONE:
If thus thou speakest, thou wilt have hatred from me, and will justly be subject to the lasting hatred of the dead. But leave me, and the folly that is mine alone, to suffer this dread thing; for I shall not suffer aught so dreadful as an ignoble death.

ISMENE:
Go, then, if thou must; and of this be sure,-that though thine errand is foolish, to thy dear ones thou art truly dear.

(Exit ANTIGONE on the spectators' left.

ISMENE retires into the palace by one of the two side-doors. When they have departed, the CHORUS OF THEBAN ELDERS enters.)

CHORUS (singing)

strophe 1
Beam of the sun, fairest light that ever dawned on Thebe of the seven gates, thou hast shone forth at last, eye of golden day, arisen above Dirce's streams! The warrior of the white shield, who came from Argos in his panoply, hath been stirred by thee to headlong flight, in swifter career;

LEADER OF THE CHORUS
systema 1
who set forth against our land by reason of the vexed claims of Polyneices; and, like shrill-screaming eagle, he flew over into our land, in snow-white pinion sheathed, with an armed throng, and with plumage of helms.

CHORUS
antistrophe 1
He paused above our dwellings; he ravened around our sevenfold portals with spears athirst for blood; but he went hence, or ever his jaws were glutted with our gore, or the Fire-god's pine-fed flame had seized our crown of towers. So fierce was the noise of battle raised behind him, a thing too hard for him to conquer, as he wrestled with his dragon foe.

LEADER
systema 2
For Zeus utterly abhors the boasts of a proud tongue; and when he beheld them coming on in a great stream, in the haughty pride of clanging gold, he smote with brandished fire one who was now hasting to shout victory at his goal upon our ramparts.

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