1. Among the numerous studies on Sophocles and Antigone, see Bernard Knox, The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy (Berkeley 1964); R. P. Winnington-Ingram, Sophocles: An Interpretation. (Cambridge 1980 ); Charles Segal, Tragedy and Civilization: An Interpretation of Sophocles (Cambridge, MA 1981); George Steiner, Antigones (Oxford 1984); Ruth Scodel, Sophocles (Boston 1984); Charles Segal, Sophocles' Tragic World : Divinity, Nature, Society (Cambridge, MA 1995).

2. The following translations have been consulted: Richard Emil Braun, Sophocles: Antigone (Oxford 1973); Andrew Brown, Sophocles: Antigone. (Warminster 1987); Robert Fagles, Antigone. In Sophocles: The Three Theban Plays (New York 1982); Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald, The Oedipus Cycle: An English Version (New York c. 1949); David Grene, Antigone. In The Complete Greek Tragedies: Sophocles I, edited by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore (Chicago 1992); Richard Jebb, Sophocles: The Plays and Fragments. III: The Antigone, 3d ed. (Cambridge 1900); Elizabeth Wyckoff, Antigone. In The Complete Greek Tragedies: Sophocles I, edited by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore (Chicago 1954).

3. For this approach to Greek tragedy, see Simon Goldhill, Reading Greek Tragedy (Cambridge 1986) 1-32.

4. Emile Benveniste, Indo-European Language and Society, tr. by Elizabeth Palmer (London 1973) 278-82. All quotations are found on page 280.

5. The approach that attempts to draw stage-directions and clues from the script as a means of imaging the play's performance was first elaborated by Oliver Taplin, Greek Tragedy in Action (Berkeley 1978).

6. For the rites of marriage, see John H. Oakley and Rebecca H. Sinos, The Wedding in Ancient Athens (Madison, WI 1993).

7. For the date of the first performance of the Antigone, we have followed the argument of R.G. Lewis, "An Alternative Date for Sophocles' Antigone," Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 29 (1988) 35-50. Lewis places the date of the first performance in Elaphebolion (roughly March) of 438 B.C. For 442 B.C. as the date of Antigone, see Brown (above, note 2) 1-2, and for 441 B.C., see Jebb (above, note 2) xlii-liv.

8. For the festival of Dionysus and the tragic contest, see Arthur Pickard-Cambridge, The Dramatic Festivals of Athens, rev. by John Gould and D.M. Lewis (Oxford 1986). For the social and political functions of tragedy, see Jean-Pierre Vernant, "Greek Tragedy: Problems of Interpretation, " in The Structuralist Controversy: The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man, ed. by Richard Macksey and Eugenio Donato (Baltimore 1972) 273-95; Simon Goldhill, Reading Greek Tragedy (Cambridge 1986).

9. For a discussion of the audience for the tragedies and comedies, see Jeffrey Henderson, "Women and the Athenian Dramatic Festivals," Transactions of the American Philological Association 121 (1991) 133-47.

10. The actors were dressed in ankle-length robes brightly colored with patterns, soft boots of leather reaching to the calf, and a mask. The mask, constructed by a craftsman from linen, portrayed with realistic features the face and head of a young woman. The audience may have surmised that one of them is Antigone, since they knew the title of the play.

11. Antigone's name means "Against the Family."  "Against" carries both the sense of "close to" and "opposed to."  When Antigone first speaks she is yet without a name but her language stresses closeness. She addresses her sister with a hyperbole whose overstatement of filial closeness is further enhanced by her use of the dual number. Beside the singular and plural, Greek has a set of inflections for expressing pairs, most often, common pairs like two oxen or two eyes. Antigone encloses Ismene with language that makes them such a natural pair, and Ismene acknowledges this with dual forms of her own.

12. The daggers indicate that Greek text is corrupt and cannot be reconstructed. Translation of daggered words is approximate.

13. Antigone introduces military imagery with her first words. The generalship was an elected office among the Athenians and had both military and political importance. At the time of the Antigone, it was the office held by, among others, Pericles. For the imagery of Antigone, see Robert F. Goheen, The Imagery of Sophocles' Antigone: A Study of Poetic Language (Princeton 1951).

14. The Greek has also been translated as "in the present night." This version places the action of the prologue during the night when the Argives were retreating.

15. Dramatic action depends upon two pieces of information. Antigone says: "I kept fetching" or "I kept calling" Ismene (19) as opposed to "I called" her. Secondly, unlike Ismene who has been in the house (8-9), Antigone knows what has happened in the city. Although how she learned of Creon's decree is left unsaid, the difference is not incidental. The theater of Dionysus had no curtain to open and show Antigone before the house. Antigone and Ismene either enter together from the house or Antigone comes in silently by one of the gangways, that is, the path to and from city, calls out to the house, and Ismene enters from the house. In the first instance, Antigone's roaming in the city is left to dialogue; in the second, it is represented visually before the audience.

16. "Deeply blue" attempts the two connotations of the Greek: the color purple, and a disturbance of the sea or mind.

17. Taphos (tomb) also designates "funeral rites," "funeral feast," and "the act of performing funeral rites." All of these meanings are present, with "tomb" being foremost because of the idea of "covering."

18. After Oedipus' death, Eteocles and Polyneices agree that they will each rule Thebes as its king in alternate years. During his time in exile, Polyneices marries Argeia, daughter of Adrastus, king of Argos. When after a year Eteocles refused to abdicate, Adrastus and Polyneices lead an army of Argives against Thebes. The brothers meet at the seventh of Thebes' seven gates, Polyneices on the outside and Eteocles on the inside of the city; they slay one another. For the myths of the house of Laius, Oedipus, Eteocles, and Polyneices, see Apollodorus, The Library 3.5.7-6.8, in Michael Simpson, Gods and Heroes of the Greeks: The Library of Apollodorus (Amherst 1976) 143-48.

19. Public stoning, carried out by all the people, was an execution reserved for transgressions that injured the whole community. As such, it could not be murder.

20. "Noble birth" and "base born from good stock" are concepts that assert male values of ethical and moral superiority based on birth.

21. Ismene replies with an image from women's art of weaving, for which, see Eva C. Keuls, "Attic Vase-Painting and the Home Textile Industry," in Ancient Greek Art and Iconography, ed. by Warren G. Moon (Madison, WI 1983) 209-30. Ismene's question initiates the first stichomythia of the play. Stichomythia is an exchange between two actors of swiftly spoken, emotionally charged single lines that in tragedy often constitutes a contest for supremacy.

22. Antigone's military image uses the common words for being captured and for handing a city or allies over to the enemy.

23. At this point, Antigone and Ismene no longer speak to one another in the dual.

24. The military image evokes the land warfare of the day, essentially a pitched battle fought by men, called hoplites after their shield (hoplon) at close quarters on level ground in a single melee. For hoplite warfare, see Victor Davis Hanson, The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece (Oxford 1989).

25. The usual translation her words, "having criminally done holy things," implies criticism of Antigone's decision to perform rites for Polyneices.  Antigone's language allows two meanings: first, that she will do every thing holy and secondly that she will do holy things in a criminal way.
Antigone must the mean the first, since she cannot be criticizing her own action, but Sophocles allows the audience to hear both meanings simultaneously.

26. Antigone proposes to conduct a cremation burial of the sort provided Elpenor:

Then, I sent my companions to Circe's house
to bring back Elpenor's dead body.
We quickly cut wood, and where the shore jutted out
furthest, we performed his burial rites, grieving and
shedding tears profusely. But after the body and its armor
were burned, we heaped a mound and, dragging a grave stele,
we affixed on top of the mound a handy oar (Homer, Odyssey 12.9-15).

A pit is dug as deep as six feet, and its bottom furrowed with channels for ventilation. Combustible material is placed into the pit, and bier is laid on top upon which rest the corpse. After the fire reduced the body to dust, a large mound of earth is heaped over the pit and the offering ditches.  See figure.

27. The image intimates that the sisters are now navigating the ship of their fortunes on different voyages.

28. Antigone implies that she will be dead.

29. For the choristers as young men, see John J. Winkler, "The Ephebes' Song: TragŰidia and Polis" in Nothing to Do with Dionysus? ed. by John J. Winkler and Froma I. Zeitlin (Princeton 1990) 20-62.

30. The river Dirce was on the west side of Thebes.

31. Helios is imagined as the driver of his four-horse sun chariot in pursuit of the fleeing Argives. The image of light shining off the horses' bridles is uncertain.

32. "Quarrels" (neikeŰn) plays on the name Polyneices (He of Much Strife or Many Quarrels).

33. The "eagle" with "snow white wings" represents the Argives as the "dragon," the Thebans. Warriors are commonly compared to animals in Homer, while similes of birds embellish the attacks of his warriors.

34. One Argive used by synecdoche for all the Argives, the "them" of line 128.

35. Hephaestus, god of fire, is synonymous with his element, but other associations may be present. Hephaestus made Harmonia a necklace for her wedding with Cadmus (Apollodorus, The Library 3.4.2). Polyneices obtains the necklace and, with it, bribes Amphiareus' wife Eriphyle to persuade her husband to join the expedition against Thebes. Amphiareus refused Adrastus since, being a seer, he foresaw that all except Adrastus would perish.

36. Ares, divine embodiment of the berserker spirit of war, is the father of the dragon that Cadmus slew in the foundation myth of Thebes. Cadmus sowed the beast's teeth in the ground, and there sprung up armed men. These fell to slaying one another, and the five remaining Spartoi (Sown Men) became the ancestors of the Theban nobility. Cadmus atoned for the dragon's slaughter by serving Ares for eight years (Apollodorus, The Library 3.4.1-2). Sophocles uses dragon metaphorically for Thebans.

37. The man is usually identified as Capaneus, one of the seven leaders of the Argive king Adrastos' army, who had sworn an oath to lay waste Thebes with or without the consent of the gods (Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 423-31; Euripides, Phoenician Women 1172-86 and Suppliant Women 496-99).

38. The finishing lines referred to here are ropes or groves in a stone slab that mark the line where the runners line up evenly at the beginning of a race and to which they return.

39. The elders describe the man as a reveler enthused by the god Bacchus, that is, Dionysus. Sophocles may be using the stem bakch- to denote madness but a secondary reference to Dionysus seems unavoidable. Bacchus is a name, perhaps Lydian in origin, for Dionysus, and so his female worshipers who were aroused by the god to an ecstatic state, were called Bacchae (female Bacchuses) and Maenads (woman maddened with Dionysus).

40. In a four-horse racing team, the outer horses drew by ropes (traces), while the inner ones were harnessed to the yoke or collar. The chariot went down the right side of the course, turned around a post, and came back on the left. In the turn, the driver spurred the outer or right horse, at the same time slackening its reins. He then left it to the horse to resist centrifugal forces and pull the chariot around through the turn. See Homer, Iliad 23.334-43 for a description. The horse became a byword for a trusty helper in a time of need.

41. "Zeus Turner" is the god in his capacity as the maker of a "turning." When one side or part of a side in the clash of lines could no longer withstand the pressure of the pushing, it could weakened and collapse into rout--the moment of "turning."

42. A word meaning "ruler" is commonly inserted in the lacuna.

43. The Coryphaeus' verb derives from the same verb as the prothesis, the "laying forth" or wake, thus alluding to the Creon's denial of this ritual for Polyneices.

44. That is, the grandsons of Laius and sons of Oedipus, Eteocles and Polyneices.

45. By the fourth century, nearness of kin (anchisteia) had been defined by law to children of first cousins. W.K. Lacey (The Family in Classical Greece [London 1968] 28-29) describes this kinship group as "the group which was entitled, in due order, to succeed to vacant estates, and had legal duties and responsibilities in case of death within the group, especially if it was death by violence; the anchisteia was obliged to bury its own dead, and to seek vengeance, or at least purification, for the violent death of any of its members."

46. The Greek denotes a living body, not a corpse.

47. The Greek also denotes "custom." Since Creon has been making "laws" (177; 449), "law" would be what he would have heard, but "custom" is always present. "To use every custom" expresses a very different sentiment, one the Coryphaeus implies, it seems, by his qualifying "I suppose."

48. The Greek implies a "protector" or "guardian" for the corpse as well as watchmen to be "lookouts" for anyone who invades the domain he has asserted over Polyneices' corpse.

49. The reader must await the Watchman's words, but the spectator can see that the man stops often and turns around as if to leave, only to resume his progress toward the house.

50. The manuscripts have a verb that means "you take aim," a military image like that of the following verb. We have adopted an emendation that maintains the imagery but leads more smoothly into the second verb. The Watchman, as it were, returns to ranks and surrounds himself with defenders.

51. With the participle sÍmanŰn (to announce), Sophocles keeps the sound of the absence sÍma (marker by with a grave, a mound) upon the ears of those in the audience. We have tried to indicate the presence of a word with the root sÍm- by the English "mark."

52. Also: "skin" or "body."

53. The Greek pausai combines the explosive sound of the first syllable, "pow!" with the hissing sibilants of the second, "ssssssai," a far more violent sound than the English "stop." The effect surely was intensified by the Greek aversion to the sound of "s."

54. The Greek denotes both an established usage or custom and the current coin, that is, money.

55. Hades is used for both the god and the place.

56. Creon threatens the watchmen with being hung from a pole and left to die.

57. The Watchman's beeline for the gangway and the refuge in the countryside away from Creon visualizes his resolve. Thus the scene begins and ends on the spectacle of a single figure traversing the cavea of the audience.

58. That is, mules "who are better than oxen for dragging the jointed plow through the deep fallow (Homer, Iliad 10.352-53).

59. Namely, the wild goat.

60. In a mirroring effect, Sophocles has this scene reflect or draw the audience back to the earlier one involving the watchman. . In this way, he could use the similarities, both visually and verbally, to highlight the differences between the scenes. For mirroring scenes, see Taplin (above, note 5) 122-39.

61. "Heaven" is the seat of the gods. Also possible is "a pain reaching to heaven." The Greek does not suggest "heavenly" in the sense of "delightful" or "beatific."

62. Certainty is thwarted by syntactical ambiguity that allows at least a second reading: "an orphaned bed of nestlings' empty bedding."

63. The clause may also be translated: "when she sees a corpse bare," because it is not certain whether the adjective is attributive or predicate. The former indicates that the body is bare, while the latter implies that it was covered and has been laid bare.

64. We have changed our usual translation of the Greek verb from "do" to "act" in order to be able to mimic the absence of a direct object and so maintain the ambiguity of the original. Also in line 483.

65. Zeus Herkeios (Zeus of the Fence) protected the boundary of every Greek household and the possessions enclosed within. His altar stood in the courtyard where the master of the house (kyrios) conducted sacrifice and the "rite of sprinkling" of family, slaves and guests with water, a ritual binding those present to one another. Creon may be imagined as having conducted this rite with Antigone and Ismene many times.

66. Cadmus is the founder of Thebes, and so Thebans are also called Cadmeians.

67. The image is that of a dog putting its tail between its legs in fear.

68. Antigone's word is nomos. See above, note 47.

69. A common but mistaken translation is: "My nature is to join in love, not hate."

70. Ismene is surrounded by female slaves, companions of the women's quarters. They are not mentioned in the script, but when Creon orders Antigone and Ismene to be led inside the house, he addresses female slaves (578), so they must have escorted her outside.

71. Antigone's language allows two meanings: Ismene is an advocate for the living Creon and a mourner for the dead Creon. In each case she gives Creon her voice in aid.

72. Ismene returns for the last time to the dual number, implying that Antigone and she are once again an inseparable pair.

73. That is, Antigone, bride of Haemon whose name is formed from the root haim- (blood).

74. The verb translated "fit" denotes both "joining together" and "arranging a marriage."

75. When Creon asserts his mastery over the house of Labdacus, he assumes its history, and the house itself becomes a silent player in the drama.

76. Storms blowing from Thrace were in the northern Aegean. Athenians perhaps associated the stroms with the primitive and warlike peoples that inhabited Thrace.

77. Labdacus' sons are Laius and his son Oedipus. The assonance of p and n substitutes for that of the Greek in pi and mu.

78. Many editors accept the emendation of "knife" for "dust" of the manuscripts.

79. An Erinys is a divine being who avenges serious wrongs, including murder and perjury. She enforces the order of nature, may embody a curse, and brings mental blindness and ruin upon the perpetrator of wrongdoing or a descendant.

80. The archaism imitates Sophocles' use of a word from epic that is does not occur elsewhere in extant tragedy.

81. The actor playing Haemon must also be playing either Antigone or Ismene. If Antigone, the similarity of voice marks the harmony Ismene claimed for her and Haemon, while the voice of the Ismene actor would bring back the voice that defended Haemon to appeal to Creon in the person of Haemon himself. The actor wears the unbearded mask of a youth of some eighteen years. By contrast, Creon wears the bearded mask of the mature man.

82. Sophocles' language allows Creon to receive what Haemon says differently as a declaration of his loyalty to his father: "You guide things aright, since you have good judgments that I will follow."

83. Zeus of the Fence (above, note 65) oversees the sacredness of kin-blood and so may be referred to in this capacity as Zeus of Kin Blood.

84. Creon alludes to the oath of allegiance that every citizen ephebe took, which affirmed in part: "I will not desert the "stand-beside" whomever I may stand beside." In a formation of hoplites, the safety of all depended upon the cohesion of the line of men and shields. The straps on the hoplite's shield were so arranged that half of the shield extended beyond the man's left side, leaving his right side exposed. The man on his left used this part to defend his right side, while the man himself looked to the shield of the man on his right to protect his right side. Each man had to stand beside his fellow.

85. Some editors have challenged the authenticity of this line.

86. The military image of the scout is appropriate to Haemon's youth (718; 728) and to his status as an ephebe, someone who fought in ways opposite to those of a hoplite. The latter fought in the daylight in close quarters with the enemy. The epebe fought by ruse and at night along the borders of the domain.

87. The image seems to be taken from a writing tablet.

88. The "foot sheet" was one of the two ropes attached to the lower corners of the sail.

89. Literally, "it is by far older," and so, with the wisdom afforded the elders, "best," a compliment to Creon for being older and therefore "wiser."

90. "Ally" connotes an underling. Since the allies in the alliance led by Athenians, for the most, paid tribute to the Athenians, they were not considered as equals.

91. The translation derives from an emendation; that of manuscript is: "What threat is there to speak against empty judgments?"

92. Creon's language evokes the prothesis that he has denied Polyneices.

93. Translators of Antigone have removed Creon after line 780, finding his presence intolerable while Antigone is mourning for herself. Those very emotions argue for keeping Creon on stage so that the audience may experience the same feelings of violation.

94. The name of one of the rivers in the underworld.

95. This line, depending on the pronunciation of the first word, may also be translated as a question: "Are you not departing for the recesses of the dead with renown and praise?", which evokes an affirmative answer.

96. As a Phrygian or Lydian, Niobe is called a guest in the house of her Theban husband, Amphion. She boasted of having more children than the goddess Leto. The latter took affront, and her children Apollo and Artemis slew all or all but two of Niobe's. Niobe returned to her father Tantalus at Sipylus in Lydia where, after praying to Zeus, she transformed into a stone. From the stone, tears flow night and day (Apollodorus, Library 3.5.6). Niobe, usually considered a mortal woman, is treated by Sophocles as not merely of divine lineage but a goddess herself.

97. In the image, overhanging cliffs allude to Niobe's eyebrows and valleys to her throat or bosom.

98. Antigone reproaches the elders with hubris, behavior that reduces her to an object that may be treated as they wish without fear of penalty for violating her rights.

99. The archaic English is meant to reproduce the effect of strangeness in Antigone's word, one from epic poetry in the Aeolic dialect.

100. Antigone's word may also be translated "customs."

101. A metic is an alien who has changed (met-) his residency (oik- "house') and lives in Athens with a status above other foreigners but with military and financial obligations. As such, he is a citizen of neither his native polis nor that of the Athenians.

102. The prize that Oedipus won in the contest with the Sphinx is marriage with the dead King Laius' wife, Jocasta, and the throne of Thebes as well as the "suffering" that accrued from his victory.

103. The Greek allows that the tomb is both ever-guarding Antigone and ever-guarded by Antigone.

104. Persephone, wife of Hades, has many names.

105. Editors have often doubted that Sophocles wrote lines 904-20. Aristotle in his On Rhetoric (3.16.9) quotes lines 911 and 912 and appears to have the full passage in his text of the play. The ideas expressed are similar to those found in Herodotus' History (3.119). The Persian, King Darius, granted the wife of a traitor whose family the king had condemned to death for treason the life of one family member. She chose her brother, justifying her choice as follows: "There would be another husband for me, if the deity wishes, and other children if I lose these, but with my father and mother no longer living, there would never be another brother."

106. Also "custom."

107. The "he" is not Creon but Hades, the Unseen One, who is claiming his bride. In the marriage rite, the groom took his bride by the wrist in a symbolic abduction of the woman into marriage.

108. When Acrisius asked the oracle about the birth of male children, the god said that his daughter, DanaŽ, would give birth to a son who would kill him. Fearing this, Acrisius built a bronze bridal chamber beneath the earth where he guarded her. Zeus, changed himself into gold and, flowing through the roof into DanaŽ's womb, had intercourse with her (Apollodorus, The Library 2.4.1).

109. Lycurgus acted with outrage (hybris) toward Dionysus and expelled him. Dionysus maddened Lycurgus, and the latter struck his son with an axe, imagining that he was pruning a vine branch, and killed him. After he had cut off his son's extremities, he came to his senses. The land, however, remained barren. The god declared that the land would bear fruit if Lycurgus were killed. The Edonians led him to Mt. Pangeum and bound him, and there by the will of Dionysus, Lycurgus was torn apart by horses (Apollodorus, The Library 3.5.1). In other versions, he is driven mad, attempts incest with his mother, cuts off his foot, and is imprisoned in a cave. Sophocles' audience, however, may have received his antistrophe through the version of the myth presented by Aeschylus' Edonians. This would imply that after Lycurgus' madness has seeped away during his stay in the cave, he realizes his mistake in not admitting Dionysus as a god and becomes his servant and prophet.


111. The Dark Rocks are the islands which the Greeks called the Symplegades (Clashing Rocks) or the Wandering Rocks or the Blue Rocks. The city Salmydessus was on south-west shore of the Black Sea. Thrace was deemed a savage and warlike land, and so Ares is an appropriate god for its peoples.

112. Boreas, the North Wind, carried off Oreithyia, daughter of Erechtheus, king of Attica, and had children by her, among them, Cleopatra. Phineus married Cleopatra and had sons, Plexippus and Pandion. After Cleopatra's death, Phineus married Idaea, daughter of Dardanus. Idaeia alleges falsely that she was raped by Phineus' sons, and Phineus, believing her, blinds both of them (Apollodorus, The Library 3.15.3). Sophocles attributes the blinding to Idaea herself.

113. Tiresias may be wearing a netlike mesh of wool that would identify him as a prophet. The famous prophet of Thebes is played by either the actor playing Antigone and Haemon or by the one playing Ismene and Haemon. The choice seems to focus on whose voice Sophocles wanted to reinforce with the authority of the gods. Being led by a boy is theater for Tiresias' blindness and his willingness to be guided by someone younger.

114. Creon's recognition of Tiresias' aid also yields the rueful: "I suffered your aid."

115. The geographer Pausanias (2nd century A. D.) saw "Tiresias' bird observatory" on the acropolis at Thebes (Description of Greece 9.16.1).

116. The gadfly, an tormenting insect and metaphor for frenzy, makes incomprehensible twittering sounds like those of barbarous, that is, non-Greek languages.

117. Electrum, gold mixed with twenty-percent or more of silver, was mined on Tmolus in Lydia, the mountain range south of Sardis. The latter was the seat of the Lydian monarchy.

118. "Sovereign" for Sophocles' word borrowed from the Thassalian dialect.

119. "They" may denote the gods below who are deprived of one of their own or the gods above who are offended by the unburied corpse or both.

120. Another translation is possible: "laments of men, of women."

121. These cities are those in Argos which sent men with Adrastus and whose hearths now are polluted with human carrion.

122. Lines 1080-83 have been considered spurious, since Sophocles does not speak elsewhere of burial being denied the Argives. Sophoclean authorship of the lines is supported by the inclusion of his Antigone in mythmaking about Thebes and Theban impiety toward the Argives, for which see Euripides' Suppliant Women.

123. These personified deities recall the Erinyes of Hades and the gods (1075). Their name derives from a verb meaning "to stop" or "to hinder."

124. "Those present and those not present," like "to move heaven and earth," is a polar expression for every one and means to make every effort possible. The axes are the kind used to split wood.

125. Zeus impregnates Cadmus' mortal daughter Semele with Dionysus. His wife, Hera, persuades Semele to bind Zeus by a promise to appear before her as he does when he is wooing Hera. Zeus appears before Semele who she is destroyed by his lightning and thunder bolts. Zeus snatches the six-month child from Semele's womb and sews it into his thigh. In due time, a mortal woman's child is born of the male god Zeus and is himself a god (Apollodorus, Library 3.5.3).

126. That is, Demeter whose mysteries at Eleusis, a town and district of Attica northwest of Athens, were open to everyone, with the ability to speak Greek being the sole requirement for initiation.

127. The Ismenus river was on the east side of Thebes. The sowing ground of the dragon is the field where the dragon lived and Cadmus sewed its teeth after killing it.

128. The Phaedriades or Shining Rocks loom over the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. Dionysus' rites were celebrated on the side of Mt. Parnassus above the Phaedriades.

129. These nymphs haunt the Corycian cave on Mt. Parnassus. The stream flows from a fissure in the cliffs above Delphi. The mountain may be Mt. Nysa in Euboea, a center of Dionysus' worship.

130. The name was usually confined to that part of the Pindus mountain range extending a few miles north of Delphi.

131. That is, Bacchae.

132. A local Eleusinian and Athenian name for Dionysus.

133. Cadmus founded Thebes, and Amphion with his brother Zethus enclosed the city with its first wall (Apollodorus, The Library 3.4.1; 3.5.5). Both were regarded as founders of the city.

134. The Messenger's word denotes both one's own and a kinsman's hand and creates an ambiguity that we attempt by having the Coryphaeus' request for clarification come in the form of an interruption.

135. Eurydice can be played by the Antigone or Ismene actor. Her name means "Wide Justice." The advantage of the Antigone actor would be that this casting in a small measure grants Antigone the revenge she seeks in her final words.

136. Pallas ("maiden") is a title for Athena who was the goddess of the city and its citadel throughout Greece. It is Athene as "defender of the city" and as Pallas who denies the prayers of the Trojan women to protect their city, its wives and infant children (Homer, Iliad 6.305-11).

137. Hecate, an ancient goddess of the earth, wielded magical powers and haunted crossroads, especially where a byway met a main road. She was believed to encounter and terrify travelers. According to Plato in Cratylus (304 a), people were led by their fears to call Hades (The Unseen One) by the euphemism, Pluton or Wealth that comes from the earth. Polyneices' corpse is now part of the wealth owed Pluton.

138. Haemon's voice touches Creon because, as Creon's verb implies, it belongs to someone he loves.

139. For practical reasons, the body was probably a mannequin. The effort of carrying even a model and the restrictions on the actor's movements in the episode, however, sufficiently rule out his carrying a body throughout the scene. Creon must, then, be holding onto the body borne by his slaves.

140. Sophocles is playing on the two senses of "new," namely, "young" and "unheard of, strange."

141. The image characterizes Creon as a driver of a chariot who has been dealt a blow, and his chariot has careened off its course into savagery.

142. In Prometheus Bound (90), Aeschylus uses the same word for Ge, Earth, the true mother of everything.

143. The messenger is a slave.

144. The altar is that of Zeus of the Courtyard (above, note 65) in the courtyard of the house.

145. Sophocles does not say how Megareus, other son of Creon and Eurydice, died, but he implies that Creon was involved. According to Apollodorus (The Library 3.6.7), Tiresias declared that the Thebans would be victorious over the Argives if Creon's son Menoeceus (as he is called elsewhere) offered himself as a sacrificial victim. When Menoeceus heard the prophecy, he slew himself before the city's gates.

146. "Child-killer" seems to denote both of Eurydice's children, Megareus and Haemon.

147. Sophocles uses a technical term of the lawcourt for announcing formally the intention to initiate a prosecution for perjury against a witness at a trial. The bride and groom in an Athenian marriage did not exchange vows.