Enter Antigone and Ismene from the Palace

Topics: Oedipus, Sophocles, Antigone Pages: 57 (10911 words) Published: November 2, 2012
Enter ANTIGONE and Ismene from the palace.

Ismene, my dear sister through common blood,
do you know of any evil from Oedipus
Zeus will not perform on us who still live?
For I have seen nothing—nothing painful,
nothing mad or shameful or dishonorable—(5)
that is not among your or my sorrows.
And now what do they say? The general
has just put an edict over the whole city.
Have you heard it? Or have you avoided
learning how our friends suffer the fate of foes?(10)

No word of friends, Antigone, either
sweet or painful, has come to me since we
two sisters were robbed of our two brothers,
both dying the same day by doubled hand.
But since the army of the Argives
departed last night, I've seen nothing else,(15)
either to cause me to rejoice or to weep.

I knew it! For this reason I brought you
outside the gates, that you alone might hear.

What? You seem to ponder something deeply.

Indeed! For of our two brothers, Creon(20)
gives honorable burial to one,
but dishonors the other. They say that
he hid Eteocles beneath the earth
with well-deserved pomp and circumstance,
as one honored among the dead below;(25)
but the corpse of Polynices, who died
so sadly, they say it has been declared
to the citizens that no one may bury
or mourn him, but must see him unlamented,
unburied, a sweet find for birds to feast upon.(30)
Such things they say our good Creon decreed
for you and me—for me, I say!
And he is coming here to announce it
clearly to anyone who hasn't heard,
for he considers it no small matter,(35)
but for the one who does any of it,
the penalty is death by public stoning.
There you have it, and soon you will show
how nobly you honor your noble birth.

But what more, my poor girl, in times like these,(40)
could I do that would not tangle the knot further?

Will you share in the labor and the deed?

What is the venture? Where have your thoughts gone?

Will you lift the corpse with this very hand?

You want to bury him, although it's forbidden in the city!(45)

I'll bury my brother—your brother, too,
though you refuse! I'll not be found a traitor.

Madwoman, even when Creon forbids it?

He has no right to keep me from my own.

No, no! Think, my sister, how our father(50)
died hated and infamous from offenses
self-detected, smiting both his eyes with
his very own hands. His wife and mother—
both words at once!—took her life with twisted noose;
then, third, our two brothers in just one day(55)
slew each other, poor wretches, achieving
a common doom at one another's hands.
And now the two of us, left all alone—
think how very horribly we will die
if we go against the king's decree and strength(60)
outside the law. Rather, consider that we
were born women, proving we should not fight with men,
and that we are ruled by more powerful people
and must obey them, even in more painful things.
Therefore I ask forgiveness from those below,(65)
as I am forced to in these matters, and yield
to those who walk with authority.
For to do excessive things is nonsense.

I would not order you; and if you change your mind
now, I would not have you do it with me.(70)
Be whatever you want, and I will bury him.
It seems fair to me to die doing it.
I will lie dear to him, with one dear to me,
a holy outlaw, since I must please those
below a longer time than people here,(75)
for I shall lie there forever. You, though,
dishonor the gods' commands, if you wish.

I do not dishonor them, but to do this
against the state—I have no strength for it.

Use that excuse, if you like, but I indeed(80)
will go and heap a tomb for my dearest brother.

Alas, how I fear for you, daring girl!

Don't worry for me; straighten out your own life.

Then, at least,...
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