Creon (King of Thebes)
Hæmon (son of Creon)
Teiresias (a blind seer)
Eurydice (wife of Creon)
Antigone (daughter of Œdipus)
Ismene (daughter of Œdipus)
Chorus of Theban Elders.
SCENE — Thebes, in front of the Palace. Early morning. Hills in the distance on the left; on the right the city.
Enter Antigone and Ismene.
Antig. Ismene, mine own sister, darling one!
Is there, of ills that sprang from Œdipus,
One left that Zeus will fail to bring on us,
The two who yet remain? Nought is there sad,
Nought full of sorrow, steeped in sin or shame,
But I have seen it in thy woes and mine.
And now, what new decree is this they tell,
Our captain has enjoined on all the State?
Know’st thou? Hast heard? Or are they hid from thee,
The ills that come from foes upon our friends?
Ism. No tidings of our friends, Antigone,
Pleasant or painful, since that hour have come,
When we, two sisters, lost our brothers twain,
In one day dying by a twofold blow.
And since in this last night the Argive host
Has left the field, I nothing further know,
Nor brightening fortune, nor increasing gloom.
Antig. That knew I well, and therefore sent for thee
Beyond the gates, that thou mav’st hear alone.
Ism. What meanest thou? It is but all too clear
Thou broodest darkly o’er some tale of woe.
Antig. And does not Creon treat our brothers twain
One with the rites of burial, one with shame?
Eteocles, so say they, he interred
Fitly, with wonted rites, as one held meet
To pass with honour to the dead below.
But for the corpse of Polyneikes, slain
So piteously, they say, he has proclaimed
To all the citizens, that none should give
His body burial, or bewail his fate,
But leave it still unwept, unsepulchred,
A prize full rich for birds that scent afar
Their sweet repast. So Creon bids, they say,
Creon the good, commanding thee and me, —
Yes, me, I say, — and now is coming here,
To make it clear to those who know it not,
And counts the matter not a trivial thing;
But whoso does the things that he forbids,
For him there waits within the city’s walls
The death of stoning. Thus, then, stands thy case;
And quickly thou wilt show, if thou art born
Of noble nature, or degenerate liv’st,
Base child of honoured parents.
Ism. How could I,
Ο daring in thy mood, in this our plight,
Or breaking law or keeping, aught avail?
Antig. Wilt thou with me share risk and toil? Look to it.
Ism. What risk is this? What purpose fills thy mind?
Antig. Wilt thou help this my hand to lift the dead?
Ism. Mean’st thou to bury him, when law forbids?
Antig. He is my brother; yes, and thine, though thou
Would’st fain he were not. I desert him not.