of his form the semblance of his stalwart limbs I see. Would I could
speed through the sky, swift as a cloud before the wind, towards my
own dear brother, and throw my arms about my darling's neck, so long,
poor boy! an exile. How bright his golden weapons flash like the sun-god's
OLD SERVANT He will soon be here, to fill thy heart with joy, according
to the truce.
ANTIGONE Who is that, old man, on yonder car driving snow-white steeds?
OLD SERVANT That, lady, is the prophet Amphiaraus; with him are the
victims, whose streaming blood the thirsty earth will drink.
ANTIGONE Daughter of Latona with the dazzling zone, O moon, thou
orb of golden light! how quietly, with what restraint he drives, goading
first one horse, then the other! But where is Capaneus who utters
those dreadful threats against this city?
OLD SERVANT Yonder he is, calculating how he may scale the towers,
taking the measure of our walls from base to summit.
ANTIGONE O Nemesis, with booming thunder-peals of Zeus and blazing
levin-light, thine it is to silence such presumptuous boasting. Is
this the man, who says he will give the maids of Thebes as captives
of his spear to Mycenae's dames, to Lerna's Trident, and the waters
of Amymone, dear to Poseidon, when he has thrown the toils of slavery
round them? Never, never, Artemis, my queen revered, child of Zeus
with locks of gold, may I endure the yoke of slavery!
OLD SERVANT My daughter, go within, and abide beneath the shelter
of thy maiden chamber, now that thou hast had thy wish and seen all
that thy heart desired; for I see a crowd of women moving toward the
royal palace, confusion reigning in the city. Now the race of women
by nature loves to find fault; and if they get some slight handle
for their talk they exaggerate it, for they seem to take a pleasure
in saying everything bad of one another. (ANTIGONE and the OLD SERVANT
descend into the palace, as the CHORUS of PHOENICIAN MAIDENS enters.)
CHORUS (singing, strophe 1)
From the Tyrian main I come, an offering choice for Loxias from Phoenician
isle, to minister to Phoebus in his halls, where his fane lies nestling
'neath the snow-swept peaks of Parnassus; over the Ionian sea I rowed
my course, for above the plains unharvested, that fringe the coast
of Sicily, the boisterous west-wind coursed, piping sweetest music
in the sky.
Chosen from my city as beauty's gift for Loxias, to the land of Cadmus
I came, sent thither to the towers of Laius, the home of my kin, the
famous sons of Agenor; and there I became the handmaid of Phoebus,
dedicated like his offerings of wrought gold. But as yet the water
of Castaly is waiting for me to bedew the maiden glory of my tresses
for the service of Phoebus.
Hail! thou rock that kindlest bright fire above the twin-peaked heights
of Dionysus. Hail! thou vine, that, day by day, makest the lush bunches
of thy grapes to drip. Hail! awful cavern of the serpent, and the
god's outlook on the hills, and sacred mount by snow-storms lashed!
would I were now circling in the dance of the deathless god, free
from wild alarms, having left Dirce ere this for the vales of Phoebus
at the centre of the world!
But now I find the impetuous god of war is come to battle before
these walls, and hath kindled murder's torch in this city. God grant
he fail! for a friend's sorrows are also mine; and if this land with
its seven towers suffer any mischance, Phoenicia's realm must share
it. Ah me! our stock is one; all children we of Io, that horned maid,
whose sorrows I partake.
Around the city a dense array of serried shields is rousing the spectre
of bloody strife, whose issue Ares shall soon learn to his cost, if
he brings upon the sons of Oedipus the horrors of the curse. O Argos,