(SCENE:-The same as in the Oedipus the King, an open space before
the royal palace, once that of Oedipus, at Thebes. The backscene
represents the front of the palace, with three doors, of which the
central and largest is the principal entrance into the house. The time
is at daybreak on the morning after the fall of the two brothers,
Eteocles and Polyneices, and the flight of the defeated Argives.
ANTIGONE calls ISMENE forth from the palace, in order to speak to
ISMENE, sister, mine own dear sister, knowest thou what ill
there is, of all bequeathed by Oedipus, that Zeus fulfils not for us
twain while we live? Nothing painful is there, nothing fraught with
ruin, no shame, no dishonour, that I have not seen in thy woes and
And now what new edict is this of which they tell, that our
Captain hath just published to all Thebes? Knowest thou aught? Hast
thou heard? Or is it hidden from thee that our friends are
threatened with the doom of our foes?
No word of friends, Antigone, gladsome or painful, hath come to
me, since we two sisters were bereft of brothers twain, killed in
one day by twofold blow; and since in this last night the Argive
host hath fled, know no more, whether my fortune be brighter, or
I knew it well, and therefore sought to bring thee beyond the
gates of the court, that thou mightest hear alone.
What is it? 'Tis plain that thou art brooding on some dark
What, hath not Creon destined our brothers, the one to honoured
burial, the other to unburied shame? Eteocles, they say, with due
observance of right and custom, he hath laid in the earth, for his
honour among the dead below. But the hapless corpse of Polyneices-as
rumour saith, it hath been published to the town that none shall
entomb him or mourn, but leave unwept, unsepulchred, a welcome store
for the birds, as they espy him, to feast on at will.
Such, 'tis said, is the edict that the good Creon hath set forth
for thee and for me,-yes, for me,-and is coming hither to proclaim
it clearly to those who know it not; nor counts the matter light, but,
whoso disobeys in aught, his doom is death by stoning before all the
folk. Thou knowest it now; and thou wilt soon show whether thou art
nobly bred, or the base daughter of a noble line.
Poor sister,-and if things stand thus, what could I help to do
Consider if thou wilt share the toil and the deed.
In what venture? What can be thy meaning?
Wilt thou aid this hand to lift the dead?
Thou wouldst bury him,-when 'tis forbidden to Thebes?
I will do my part,-and thine, if thou wilt not,-to a brother.
False to him will I never be found.
Ah, over-bold! when Creon hath forbidden?
Nay, he hath no right to keep me from mine own.