Chorus of Theban Elders
Eros, undefeated in battle,
Eros, who falls upon possessions,
who, in the soft cheeks of a young girl,
stays the night vigil,
who traverses over seas 785
and among pastoral dwellings,
you none of the immortals can escape,
none of the day-long mortals, and
he who has you is maddened. 790
You wrest the minds of even the just
aside to injustice, to their destruction.
You have incited this quarrel
among blood kin.
Desire radiant from the eyelids 795
of a well-bedded bride prevails,
companion in rule with the gods' great
ordinances. She against whom none may battle,
the goddess Aphrodite, plays her games.800
[Antigone enters from the house, escorted by Creon's slaves (885).]
Now, by this time, even I myself am carried
outside the ordinances of the gods at seeing this.
I am no longer able to stanch the streams of tears,
when I see Antigone here approaching
the bridal-chambers that give rest to all.805
See me, citizens of my paternal land,
walking my last
road and beholding my last
light of the sun--
never again. But Hades,810
the all-provider of rest, leads me living
to Acheron's(94) shore,
without a share of wedding
hymns. No song
at my wedding sang out for me,815
but I shall wed Acheron.
Therefore, without renown and praise,(95)
you are departing for the recesses of the dead,
neither struck by wasting diseases
nor obtaining the wages of the sword.820
But under your own law, alive, alone and unique
of mortals, you will descend to Hades.
I heard that she perished most sorrowfully,
the Phrygian guest,
daughter of Tantalus, on the peak825
of Mt. Sipylus, whom a rocky
growth like tenacious ivy subdued.(96)
Rain and snow,
it is the talk of men,
never leave her as she pines away.830
Beneath her overhanging cliffs always weeping,
she moistens her valleys.(97) Very like
her, the deity beds me.
No, she is a god begotten of god,
and we are mortals born to die.835
And yet, it is a great thing for a dead woman to hear
that she obtains a portion with the god-like
while alive and, afterwards, while dead.
O me, I am mocked.
Why, by the gods of our fathers, why
do you abuse(98) me, when I have not gone840
but am in plain sight before you?
O city and its men
of many possessions,
iô, Dircaean springs
and precinct of Thebes rich in chariots,845
at least I possess thee(99) as witnesses
to how unwept by philoi and by what laws(100)
am I going to the rock-entombed vault
of my unprecedented mound.
Iô, wretched me, a corpse850
among people and not among corpses,
a metic,(101) not among the living, and not among the dead.
Advancing to the limit of daring,
you struck the high throne
of Justice, child, hard.855
You are paying, perhaps, for your father's prize.(102)
You have touched the most
painful thoughts for me
of my father's thrice-plowed lament
and of all
our fate860
for the renowned children of Labdacus.
Oh, maternal ruinous delusions of beds
and the incestuous sleepings
of my ill-fated mother with my father,865
from such people wretched me was born.
To them, accursed and unmarried,
here I am going, a metic.
Iô, brother, by attaining ill-
fated marriages,870
dead though you be, you slew me still alive.
There is some piety in being pious,
but power, for him who cares for power,
proves nowhere to be transgressed.
Your self-knowing temper destroyed you.875
Without laments, without philoi, without wedding
hymns, I am led in misery
along the road made ready.
No longer for miserable me is it right
to see the eye of this holy torch.880
My own destiny, unwept by tears,
no one of philoi laments.
Creon [To the slaves.]
Do you not know that, instead of dying, not one person
would stop pouring out songs and wailing, if allowed?
Will you not lead her off as quickly as you can885
enfold her in a roofed tomb, as I have ordered.
Leave her alone and deserted, whether she may
die or be entombed in such an enclosure alive.
The fact is that we are pure in the matter of this maiden.
In any case, she will be deprived of her metic status up here.890
O tomb, O wedding chamber, O hollowed
abode ever guarding,(103) where I am walking
to my own, the greatest number of whom has perished,
and Persephassa(104) has received among the dead.
Last of them, I, and by far in the most evil way,895
I am going down before my life's measure has expired.
In arriving there, I nourish the hope, of course,
that I will come philê to father and especially philê to you,
mother, and philê to you, brother-head,
since all of you in death with my own hand900
I washed and dressed, and gave
liquid offerings at your tomb. Now, Polyneices,
for laying out your body, I win such things as these.
And yet, I honored you for those thinking rightly.(105)
Not even if I were the mother of children,905
not if my husband were dead and rotting on me,
would I take up this task in violence of the citizens.
For the sake of what law(106) do I say this?
A husband dead, there would be another for me,
and a child from another man, if I lost this one, 910
but with mother and father both hidden in the house of Hades,
there is no brother who would be produced, ever.
I honored you before all by such
a law, and to Creon this seems to be doing wrong
and to be daring terrible things, O brother-head.915
Now he takes me by the hand(107) and is leading
me away, unbedded, unhymned and ungraced
by a share of bridal coupling and nurturing a child,
but in this way deserted of philoi and ill-fated.
I am going alive into the hollowed abodes of the dead.920
Having transgressed what justice of deities?
Why should I in such misery look further to the gods?
What ally of those who are allies should I look to, seeing
that, by acting piously, I have come to possess impiety?
If this should be good and beautiful before the gods,925
then I would realize my mistake after suffering my doom.
But if these men are doing wrong, may they suffer no more
evils than they themselves do unjustly to me.
Still, the same blasts of the same winds
of her essence are holding her fast930
For this reason, those who are leading her
will be sorry for their slowness.
O me, this word has come
very close to death.
I offer no consolation at all to take heart that 935
these arrangements will not be executed as proposed.
O paternal city of the land of Thebes
and ancestral gods,
I am being led away. I delay no longer.
Look, magnates of Thebes,940
at the sole and last one of the royal line,
at what I suffer from what sort of men,
having piously rendered piety.
[Antigone is being led away by Creon's slaves but must remain within earshot of the elders' ode, since they address her directly. Creon remains on stage.]