John Henry Wright.

Masterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; online

. (page 11 of 29)
Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 11 of 29)
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^ taste ! 625

For unto those whose house

The Gods have shaken, nothing fails of curse

Or woe, that creeps to generations far.


E'en thus a wave, (when spreads,

With blasts from Thracian coasts, 630

The darkness of the deep,)

Up from the sea's abyss
Hither and thither rolls the black sand on,

And every jutting peak.

Swept by the storm- wind's strength, 635

Lashed by the fierce wild waves,
Ke-echoes with the far-resounding roar.

Antistrophe I.

I see the woes that smote, in ancient days,

The seed of Labdacus,
Who perished long ago, with grief on grief 640

Still falling, nor does this age rescue that;

Some God still smites it down,

Nor have they any end :

For now there rose a gleam.

Over the last weak shoots, 645

That sprang from out the race of Oedipus ;

Yet this the blood-stained scythe

Of those that reign below

Cuts off relentlessly, 649

And maddened speech, and frenzied rage of heart.

Strophe II.

\)Thy power, O Zeus, what haughtiness of man.

Yea, what can hold in check ?
Which neither sleep, that maketh all things old.
Nor the long months of Gods that never fail.

Can for a moment seize. 65i

But still as Lord supreme.

Waxing not old with time.
Thou dwellest in Thy sheen of radiancy

On far Olympus' height.


Through future near or far as through the past, eeo

One law holds ever good,
Nought comes to life of man unscathed throughout by
^f=\ woe.

« V^ Antistrophe II.

^ For hope to many comes in wanderings wild,

A solace and support ;
To many as a cheat of fond desires, 665

And creepeth still on him who knows it not,

Until he burn his foot

Within the scorching flame.

Full well spake one of old,
That evil ever seems to be as good 670

To those whose thoughts of heart

God leadeth unto woe,

And without woe, he spends but shortest space of


I And here comes Haemon, last of all thy sons :

Comes he bewailing sore ers

The fate of her who should have been his bride.
The maid Antigone,
Grieving o'er vanished joys ?

Enter Haemon.

J ^ Creon. Soon we shall know much more than seers
can tell.
Surely thou dost not come, my son, to rage m

Against thy father, hearing his decree.
Fixing her doom who should have been thy bride ;
Or dost thou love us still, whatever we do ?

Haemon. My father, I am thine ; and thou dost
"With thy wise counsels, which I gladly follow. 685


No marriage weighs one moment in the scales
With me, while thou dost guide my steps aright.
Creon. This thought, my son, should dwell within
thy breast,
That all things stand below a father's will ;
For so men pray that they may rear and keep 690

Obedient offspring by their hearths and homes,
That they may both requite their father's foes,
And pay with him like honors to his friend.
But he who reareth sons that profit not,
What could one say of him but this, that he 695

Breeds his own sorrow, laughter to his foes ?
Lose not thy reason, then, my son, o'ercome
By pleasure, for a woman's sake, but know,
A cold embrace is that to have at home
A worthless wife, the partner of thy bed. 700

What ulcerous sore is worse than one we love
Who proves all worthless? No ! with loathing scorn.
As hateful to thee, let that girl go wed
A spouse in Hades. Taken in the act
I found her, her alone of all the State, 705

Rebellious. And I will not make myself
False to the State. She dies. So let her call
On Zeus, the lord of kindred. If I rear
Of mine own stock things foul and orderless,
I shall have work enough with those without. 710

For he who in the life of home is good
Will still be seen as just in things of state ;
I should be sure that man would govern well,
And know well to be governed, and would stand
In war's wild storm, on his appointed post, 715

A just and good defender. But the man
Who by transgressions violates the laws.
Or thinks to bid the powers that be obey,


He must not hope to gather praise from me.

No ! we must follow whom the State appoints, 720

In things or just and trivial, or, may be,

The opposite of these. For anarchy

Is our worst evil, brings our commonwealth

To utter ruin, lays whole houses low,

In battle strife hurls firm allies in flight ; 725

But they who yield to guidance, — these shall find

Obedience saves most men. Thus health should come

To what our rulers order ; least of all

Ought men to bow before a woman's sway.

Far better, if it must be so, to fall 730

By a man's hand, than thus to bear reproach,

By woman conquered.

Chorus. Unto us, O king,

Unless our years have robbed us of our wit,
Thou seemest to say wisely what thou say'st,

Haemon. The Gods, my father, have bestowed on
man 735

His reason, noblest of all earthly gifts ;
And that thou speakest wrongly these thy words
I cannot say (God grant I ne'er know how
Such things to utter !), yet another's thoughts
May have some reason. 'T is my lot to watch 74a

What each man says or does, or blames in thee.
For dread thy face to one of low estate.
Who speaks what thou wilt not rejoice to hear.
But I can hear the things in darkness said.
How the whole city wails this maiden's fate, 745

As one " who of all women most unjustly.
For noblest deed must die the foulest death,
Who her own brother, fallen in the fray,
Would neither leave unburied, nor expose
To carrion dogs, or any bird of prey, 750


May she not claim the meed of golden praise ? "

Such is the whisper that in secret runs

All darkling. And for me, my father, nought

Is dearer than thy welfare. What can be

A nobler prize of honor for the son . 755

Than a sire's glory, or for sire than son's ?

I pray thee, then, wear not one mood alone.

That what thou say'st is right, and nought but that ;

For he who thinks that he alone is wise,

His mind and speech above what others have, 76o

Such men when searched are mostly empty found.

But for a man to learn, though he be wise.

Yea, to learn much, and know the time to yield,

Brings no disgrace. When winter floods the streams,

Thou see'st the trees that bend before the storm, 765

Save their last twigs, while those that will not yield

Perish with root and branch. And when one hauls

Too tight the mainsail rope, and will not slack.

He has to end his voyage with deck o'erturned.

Do thou then yield ; permit thyself to change. 770

Young though I be, if any prudent thought

Be with me, I at least will dare assert

The higher worth of one, who, come what will,

Is full of knowledge. If that may not be,^

(For nature is not wont to take that bent,) 775

'T is good to learn from those who counsel well.

Chorus. My king, 't is fit that thou shouldst learn
from him,
If he speaks words in season ; and, in turn.
That thou [to Haemon] shouldst learn of him, for both
speak well.

Cveon, Shall we at our age stoop to learn from him.
Young as he is, the lesson to be wise ? »«i

1 I. e., if he is not wise, he should accept advice.


Haemon. Learn nought thou shouldst not learn.

And if I 'm young,
Thou shouldst my deeds and not my years consider.
Creon. Is that thy deed to reverence rebel souls ?
Haemon. I would bid none waste reverence on the

base. 785

Creon, Has not that girl been seized with that

disease ?
Haemon. The men of Thebes with one accord say,

Creon. And will my subjects tell us how to rule ?
Haemon. Dost thou not see thou speakest like a

Creon. Must I then rule for others than myself ?
Haemon. That is no State which hangs on one

man's will. 791

Creon. Is not the State deemed his who governs

Haemon. Brave rule ! Alone, and o'er an empty

land !
Creon. This boy, it seems, will be his bride's ally.
Haemon. If thou art she, for thou art all my care.
Creon. Basest of base, against thy father plead-
ing ! 796
Haemon. Yea, for I see thee sin a grievous sin.
Creon. And do I sin revering mine own sway?
Haemon. Thou show'st no reverence, trampling on

God's laws. 799

Creon. O guilty soul, by woman's craft beguiled !
Haemon. Thou wilt not find me slave unto the base.
Creon. Thy every word is still on her behalf.
Haemon. Yea, and on thine and mine, and Theirs

Creon. Be sure thou shalt not wed her while she



Haemon. Then she must die, and, dying, others

slay. 805

Creon. And dost thou dare to come to me with

threats ?
Haemon. Is it a threat against vain thoughts to

speak ?
Creon. Thou to thy cost shalt teach me wisdom's
Thyself in wisdom wanting.

Haemon. I would say

Thou wast unwise, if thou wert not my father. sio

Creon. Thou woman's slave, I say, prate on no

Haemon. Wilt thou then speak, and, speaking,

listen not?
Creon. Nay, by Olympos ! Thou shalt not go free
To flout me with reproaches. Lead her out
Whom my soul hates, that she may die forthwith sis
Before mine eyes, and near her bridegroom here.
Haemon. No ! Think it not ! Near me she shall
not die.
And thou shalt never see my face alive.
That thou mayst storm at those who like to yield.

Chorus. The man has gone, O king, in hasty
mood. 820

A mind distressed in youth is hard to bear.

Creon. Let him do what he will, and bear himself
As more than man, he shall not save those girls.

Chorus. What ! Dost thou mean to slay them

both alike?
Creon. Not her who touched it not ; there thou
say'st well. 825

Chorus. What form of death mean'st thou to slay
her with ?


Creon. Leading her on to where the desert path
Is loneliest, there alive, in rocky cave
Will I immure her, just so much of food
Before her set as may avert pollution,^ sso

And save the city from the guilt of blood ;
And there, invoking Hades, whom alone
Of all the Gods she worships, she, perchance,
Shall gain escape from death, or then shall know 834
O^ That Hades-worship is but labor lost. \_Exit.

V Strophe.

Chorus. O Love, in every battle victor owned ;

Love, rushing on thy prey,
Now on a maiden's soft and blooming cheek,

In secret ambush hid ;
Now o'er the broad sea wandering at will, 84o

And now in shepherd's folds ;
Of all the Undying Ones none 'scape from thee,

Nor yet of mortal men
Whose lives are measured as a fleeting day ;
And who has thee is frenzied in his soul. 845


Thou makest vile the purpose of the just,

To his own fatal harm ;
Thou hast stirred up this fierce and deadly strife.

Of men of nearest kin ;
The charm of eyes of bride beloved and fair 850

Is crowned with victory.
And dwells on high among the powers that rule.

Equal with holiest laws ;

^ " Creon's words point to the popular feeling- that if some food,
however little, were given to those thus buried alive, the guilt of
starving them to death was averted."


For Aphrodite, she whom none subdues,

Sports in her might and majesty divine. 855

K'^^fi, even I, am borne

Beyond the appointed laws ;
I look on this, and cannot stay
The fountain of my tears.

For, lo ! I see her, see Antigone seo

Wend her sad, lonely way
To that bride-chamber where we all must lie.

Enter Antigone.

Antigone, Behold, O men of this my fatherland,
I wend my last lone way.
Seeing the last sunbeam, now and nevermore ; 865

He leads me yet alive.
Hades that welcomes all,
To Acheron's dark shore.
With neither part nor lot

In marriage festival, 870

Nor hath the marriage hymn
Been sung for me as bride.
But I shall be the bride of Acheron.

Chorus, And hast thou not all honor, worthiest
Who goest to the home that hides the dead, srs

Not smitten by the sickness that decays.

Nor by the sharp sword's meed.
But of thine own free will, in fullest life,
f^ Alone of mortals, thus

To Hades tak'st thy way ? sso

Antigone, I heard of old her pitiable end,^

^ " The thoughts of Antigone go back to the story of one of her
own race, whose fate was in some nieasure like her own. Niobe,



On Sipylos' higli crag,
The Phrygian stranger from a far land come,

Whom Tantalos begat ;

Whom growth of rugged rock, 885

Clinging as ivy clings,

Subdued, and made its own :

And now, so runs the tale.

There, as she melts in shower,

The snow abideth aye, 89o

And still bedews yon cliffs that lie below

Those brows that ever weep.
With fate like hers God brings me to my rest.

Chorus. A Goddess she, and of the high Gods
born ; ^
And we are mortals, born of mortal seed. 895

And lo ! for one who liveth but to die.
To gain like doom with those of heavenly race,
^ Is great and strange to hear.
Aj/^ Antigone. Ye mock me then. Alas ! Why wait
ye not.
By all our fathers' Gods, I ask of you, 900

Till I have passed away.

But flout me while I live ?

O city that I love,

O men that claim as yours

That city stored with wealth, "^ 905

Dirke, fairest fount,

O grove of Thebes, that boasts her chariot host,

1 bid you witness all,

How, with no friends to weep.

By what stern laws condemned, 910

daughter of Tantalus, became the wife of Amphion, and then, boast-
ing of her children as more and more goodly than those of Leto,
provoked the wrath of Apollo and Artemis, who slew her children.
She, going to Sipylus, in Phrygia, was there turned into a rock."
1 Tantalus, the father of Niobe, was himself a son of Zeus.


I go to that strong dungeon of the tomb,

For burial strange, ah me !
Nor dwelling with the living, nor the dead.

Chorus, Forward and forward still to farthest verge

Of daring hast thou gone, 9i5

And now, O child, thou hast rushed violently

Where Right erects her throne ;
Surely thou payest to the uttermost

Thy father's debt of guilt.
Antigone. Ah ! thou hast touched the quick of all
my grief, 920

The thrice-told tale of all my father's woe,

The fate which dogs us all.
The old Labdakid race of ancient fame.

Woe for the curses dire

Of that defiled bed, 925

With foulest incest stained.

My mother's with my sire.
Whence I myself have sprung, most miserable.

And now, I go to them,

To sojourn in the grave, 930

Accursed, and unwed ;

Ah, brother,, thou didst find

Thy marriage fraught with ill.
And thou, though dead, hast smitten down my life.
Chorus, Acts reverent and devout 935

May claim devotion's name.
But power, in one to whom power comes as trust.

May never be defied ;

And thee, thy stubborn mood,

Self -chosen, layeth low. 940

Antigone. Unwept, without a friend.

Unwed, and whelmed in woe,
I journey on this road that open lies.


No more shall it be mine (O misery !)

To look upon yon daylight's holy eye ; 945

And yet, of all my friends,

Not one bewails my fate,

No kindly tear is shed.

Enter Creon.

Oreon. And know ye not, if men have leave to
Their songs and wailings thus to stave off death, 950
That they will never stop ? Lead, lead her on.
Without delay, and, as I said, immure
In yon cavernous tomb, and then depart.
Leave her to choose, or drear and lonely death,
Or, living, in the tomb to find her home. 955

Our hands are clean in all that touches her ;
But she no more shall dwell on earth with us.

Antigone. [^Turning towards the cavern.^ tomb,
my bridal chamber, vaulted home,
Guarded right well for ever, where I go
To join mine own, of whom the greater part 96o

Among the dead doth Persephassa ^ hold ;
And I, of all the last and saddest, wend
My way below, life's little span unfilled.
And yet I go, and feed myself with hopes
That I shall meet them, by my father loved, 965

Dear to my mother, well-beloved of thee.
Thou darling brother : I, with these my hands.
Washed each dear corpse, arrayed you, poured liba-
In rites of burial ; and in care for thee,
Thy body, Polyneices, honoring, 970-

I gain this recompense. [And yet in sight

^ Persephone, or Proserpina, queen among the deatl.


Of all that rightly judge, the deed was good ;

I had not done it had I come to be

A mother with her children, — had not dared,

Though 't were a husband dead that mouldered there,

Against my country's will to bear this toil. 976

And am I asked what law constrained me thus?

I answer, had I lost a husband dear,

I might have had another ; other sons

By other spouse, if one were lost to me : m

But when my father and my mother sleep

In Hades, then no brother more can come.

And therefore, giving thee the foremost place,

I seemed in Creon's eyes, O brother dear,

To sin in boldest daring. Therefore now 98»

He leads me, having taken me by force,

Cut off from marriage bed and marriage song, —

Untasting wife's true joy, or mother's bliss.

With infant at her breast, — but all forlorn,

Bereaved of friends, in utter misery, 990

Alive, I tread the chambers of the dead.]

What law of Heaven have I transgressed against ?

What use for me, ill-starred one, still to look

To any God for succor, or to call

On any friend for aid ? For holiest deed 995

I bear this charge of rank unholiness.

If acts like these the Gods on high approve,

We, taught by pain, shall own that we have sinned ;

But if these sin [looking at Creon], I pray they suffer

Worse evils than the wrongs they do to me. 1000

Chorus. Still do the same wild blasts
Vex her who standeth there.

Creon. Therefore shall these her guards
Weep sore for this delay.


Chorus. Ah me ! this word of thine loos

Tells of death drawing nigh.
Creo7i. I cannot bid thee hope

For other end than this.
Antigone. O citadel of Thebes, my native land,
Ye Gods of ancient days, loio

I go, and linger not.
Behold me, O ye senators of Thebes,
The last, lone scion of the kingly race.
What things I suffer, and from whom they come.
Revering still the laws of reverence. 1015

' \_Guards lead Antigone away.

\ Strophe I.

^^i^^^Chorus. So did the form of Danae bear of old,^

In brazen palace hid.

To lose the light of heaven.
And in her tomb-like chamber was enclosed :
Yet she, O child, was noble in her race, io2!>

And well she stored the golden shower of Zeus.
But great and dread the might of Destiny ;

Nor kingly wealth, nor war.

Nor tower, nor dark-hulled ships

Beaten by waves, escape. 1025

Antistrophe I.

So too was shut, enclosed in dungeon cave,
Bitter and fierce in mood.
The son of Dryas,^ king

1 Dana«, though shut up by her father Acrisius, received the golden
shower of Zeus, and became the mother of Perseus. See page 70.

2 The son of Dryas was Lycurgus, who appears in the Iliad, vi. 130,
as having, like Pentheus, opposed the worship of Dionysus ; he has thus
fallen under the wrath of Zeus, who deprived him of sight, and en-
tombed him in a cavern. The Muses are here mentioned as the cora-
panimis and nurses of Dionysus.



Of yon Edonian tribes, for vile reproach,

By Diouysos' hands, and so his strength loso

And soul o'ermad wastes drop by drop away,

And so he learnt that he, against the God,

Spake his mad words of scorn ;

For he the Maenad throng

And bright fire fain had stopped, 1035

And roused the Muses' wrath.

Strophe II.
And by the double sea ^ of those Dark Rocks ^

Are shores of Bosporos,
And Thracian isle, as Salmydessos ^ known.

Where Ares, whom they serve, loio

God of the region round,

Saw the dire, blinding wound.

That smote the twin-born sons
Of Phineus by relentless step-dame's hand, —

Dark wound, on dark-doomed eyes, 1045

Not with the stroke of sword.
But blood-stained hands, and point of spindle sharp.

Antistrophe II.
And they in misery, miserable fate,

Wasting away, wept sore,
Born of a mother wedded with a curse. 1050

^ The last instance is taken from the early legends of Attica.
Boreas, it was said, carried off Oreithyia, daughter of Erechtheus, and
by her had two sons and a daughter, Cleopatra. The latter became
the wife of Phineus, king of Salmydessus, and bore two sons to him,
Plexippns and Pandion. Phineus then divorced her, married another
wife, Idaea, and then, at her instigation, deprived his two sons by the
former marriage of their sight, and confined Cleopatra in a dungeon.
She too, like Danae and Niobe, was " a child of Gods," and the Erech-
theion on the Acropolis was consecrated to the joint worship of her
grandfather and of Poseidon.

^ See Pindar, page 82. ^ See Aeschylus, page 118, line 847.


And she wlio claimed descent
From men of ancient fame,
The old Erechtheid race,
Amid her father's winds,
Daughter of Boreas, in far distant caves 1055

Was reared, a child of Gods,
Swift moving as the steed
O'er lofty crag, and yet
">^ The ever-living Fates bore hard on her.

, ^ ' Enter Teiresias, guided hy a Boy.

\^- V Teiresias, Princes of Thebes, we come as travellers
joined, loeo

One seeing for both, for still the blind must use
A guide's assistance to direct his steps.

Creon. And what new thing, Teiresias, brings thee

Teiresias. I '11 tell thee, and do thou the seer obey.
Creon. Of old I was not wont to slight thy

thoughts. 1065

Teiresias. So didst thou steer our city's course full

Creon. I bear my witness from good profit gained.
Teiresias. Know, then, thou walk'st on fortune's

Creon. What means this ? How I shudder at thy

speech I
Teiresias. Soon shalt thou know, as thou dost hear
•i the signs 1070

Of my dread art.^ For sitting, as of old,
Upon my ancient seat of augury.
Where every bird finds haven, lo ! I hear
Strange cry of winged creatures, shouting shrill.
With inarticulate passion, and I knew 1075



That they were tearing each the other's flesh
With bloody talons, for their whirring wings
Made that quite clear : and straightway I, in fear,
Made trial of the sacrifice that lay
On fiery altar. And Hephaestos' flame loso

Shone not from out the offering ; but there oozed
Upon the ashes, trickling from the bones,
A moisture, and it smouldered, and it spat,
And, lo ! the gall was scattered to the air,
And forth from out the fat that wrapped them round
The thigh bones fell. Such omens of decay 1086

From holy sacrifice I learnt from him,
This boy, who now stands here, for he is still
A guide to me, as I to others am.
And all this evil falls upon the State, 1090

From out thy counsels ; for our altars all.
Our sacred hearths are full of food for dogs
And birds unclean, the flesh of that poor wretch
Who fell, the son of Oedipus. And so
The Gods no more hear prayers of sacrifice, 1095

Nor own the flame that burns the victim's limbs ;
Nor do the birds give cry of omen good.
But feed on carrion of a slaughtered corpse.
7^/j<^-Think thou on this, my son : to err, indeed,
^ ^ Is common unto all, but having erred, noo

He is no longer reckless or unblest.
Who, having fallen into evil, seeks
For healing, nor continues still unmoved.
Self-will must bear the charge of stubbornness :
Yield to the dead, and outrage not a corpse. uo5

What prowess is it fallen foes to slay?
Good counsel give I, planning good for thee,
And of all joys the sweetest is to learn
From one who speaketh well, should that bring gain.


Creon, Old man, as archers aiming at their mark,
So ye shoot forth your venomed darts at me ; iiu

I know your augur's tricks, and by your tribe
Long since am tricked and sold. Yes, gain your

Get Sardis' amber metal, Indian gold ;
That corpse ye shall not hide in any tomb. ms

Not though the eagles, birds of Zeus, should bear
Their carrion morsels to the throne of God,
Not even fearing this pollution dire.
Will I consent to burial. Well I know
That man is powerless to pollute the Gods. 1120

But many fall, Teiresias, dotard old,
A shameful fall, who gloze their shameful words
For lucre's sake, with surface show of good.

Teiresias, Ah me ! Does no man know, does none

consider . . .
Creon. Consider what ? What trite poor saw
comes now? n25

Teiresias. How far good counsel is of all things best ?
Creon. So far, I trow, as folly is worst ill.
Teiresias. Of that disease thy soul, alas I is full.
Creon. I will not meet a seer with evil words.
Teiresias. Thou dost so, saying I divine with lies.
Creon. The race of seers is ever fond of gold, iisi
Teiresias. And that of tyrants still loves lucre foul.
Creon. Dost know thou speak'st thy words of

those that rule ?
Teiresias. I know. Through me thou rul'st a city

Creon. Wise seer art thou, yet given o'ermuch to
wrong. 1135

Teiresias. Thou 'It stir me to speak out my soul's
dread secrets.


Creon. Out with them; only speak them not for

Teiresias. So is 't, I trow, in all that touches thee.

Creon. Know that thou shalt not bargain with my

Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 11 of 29)