whose home is heaven's radiant vault, save us, and grant that my sons
may be reconciled! For thou, if thou art really wise, must not suffer
the same poor mortal to be for ever wretched. (JOCASTA re-enters
the palace, as the OLD SERVANT appears on the roof.)
OLD SERVANT Antigone, choice blossom in a father's house, although
thy mother allowed thee at thy earnest treaty to leave thy maiden
chamber for the topmost story of the house, thence to behold the Argive
host, yet a stay moment that I may first reconnoitre the path, whether
there be any of the citizens visible on the road, lest reproach, little
as it matters to a slave like me, fasten on thee, my royal mistress;
and when I am quite sure will tell thee everything that I saw and
heard from the Argives, when carried the terms of the truce to and
fro between this city and Polyneices. (After a slight pause) No,
there is no citizen approaching the palace; so mount the ancient cedar
steps, and view the plains that skirt Ismenus and the fount of Dirce
to see the mighty host of foemen. (ANTIGONE appears beside him. She
chants her replies to him.)
ANTIGONE Stretch out thy hand to me from the stairs, the hand of
age to youth, helping me to mount.
OLD SERVANT There! clasp it, my young mistress; thou art come at
a lucky moment; for Pelasgia's host is just upon the move, and their
several contingents are separating.
ANTIGONE O Hecate, dread child of Latona! the plain is one blaze
OLD SERVANT Ah! this is no ordinary home-coming of Polyneices; with
many a knight and clash of countless arms he comes.
ANTIGONE Are the gates fast barred, and the brazen bolts shot home
into Amphion's walls of stone?
OLD SERVANT Never fear! all is safe within the town. But mark him
who cometh first, if thou wouldst learn his name.
ANTIGONE Who is that with the white crest, who marches in the van,
lightly bearing on his arm a buckler all of bronze?
OLD SERVANT A chieftain, lady-
ANTIGONE Who is he? whose son? his name? tell me, old man.
OLD SERVANT Mycenae claims him for her son; in Lerna's glens he dwells,
the prince Hippomedon.
ANTIGONE Ah! how proud and terrible his mien! like to an earth-born
giant he moves, with stars engraved upon his targe, resembling not
a child of earth.
OLD SERVANT Dost see yon chieftain crossing Dirce's stream?
ANTIGONE His harness is quite different. Who is that?
OLD SERVANT Tydeus, the son of Oeneus; true Aetolian spirit fires
ANTIGONE Is this he, old man, who wedded a sister of the wife of
Polyneices? What a foreign look his armour has! a half-barbarian he!
OLD SERVANT Yes, my child; all Aetolians carry shields, and are most
unerring marksmen with their darts.
ANTIGONE How art thou so sure of these descriptions, old man?
OLD SERVANT I carefully noted the blazons on their shields before
when I went with the terms of the truce to thy brother; so when I
see them now I know who carry them.
ANTIGONE Who is that youth passing close to the tomb of Zethus, with
long flowing hair, but a look of fury in his eye? is he a captain?
for crowds of warriors follow at his heels.
OLD SERVANT That is Parthenopaeus, Atalanta's son.
ANTIGONE May Artemis, who hies o'er the hills with his mother, lay
him low with an arrow, for coming against my city to sack it!
OLD SERVANT May it be so, my daughter; but with justice are they
come hither, and my fear is that the gods will take the rightful view,
ANTIGONE Where is he who was born of the same mother as I was by
a cruel destiny? Oh! tell me, old friend, where Polyneices is.
OLD SERVANT He is yonder, ranged next to Adrastus near the tomb of
Niobe's seven unwed daughters. Dost see him?
ANTIGONE I see him, yes! but not distinctly; 'tis but the outline