Ah me! think, sister, how our father perished, amid hate and
scorn, when sins bared by his own search had moved him to strike
both eyes with self-blinding hand; then the mother wife, two names
in one, with twisted noose did despite unto her life; and last, our
two brothers in one day,-each shedding, hapless one, a kinsman's
blood,-wrought out with mutual hands their common doom. And now we
in turn-we two left all alone think how we shall perish, more
miserably than all the rest, if, in defiance of the law, we brave a
king's decree or his powers. Nay, we must remember, first, that we
were born women, as who should not strive with men; next, that we
are ruled of the stronger, so that we must obey in these things, and
in things yet sorer. I, therefore, asking the Spirits Infernal to
pardon, seeing that force is put on me herein, will hearken to our
rulers. for 'tis witless to be over busy.
I will not urge thee,-no nor, if thou yet shouldst have the
mind, wouldst thou be welcome as a worker with me. Nay, be what thou
wilt; but I will bury him: well for me to die in doing that. I shall
rest, a loved one with him whom I have loved, sinless in my crime; for
I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living: in that
world I shall abide for ever. But if thou wilt, be guilty of
dishonouring laws which the gods have stablished in honour.
I do them no dishonour; but to defy the State,-I have no
strength for that.
Such be thy plea:-I, then, will go to heap the earth above the
brother whom I love.
Alas, unhappy one! How I fear for thee!
Fear not for me: guide thine own fate aright.
At least, then, disclose this plan to none, but hide it
closely,-and so, too, will I.
Oh, denounce it! Thou wilt be far more hateful for thy silence, if
thou proclaim not these things to all.
Thou hast a hot heart for chilling deeds.
I know that I please where I am most bound to please.
Aye, if thou canst; but thou wouldst what thou canst not.
Why, then, when my strength fails, I shall have done.
A hopeless quest should not be made at all.
If thus thou speakest, thou wilt have hatred from me, and will
justly be subject to the lasting hatred of the dead. But leave me, and
the folly that is mine alone, to suffer this dread thing; for I
shall not suffer aught so dreadful as an ignoble death.
Go, then, if thou must; and of this be sure,-that though thine
errand is foolish, to thy dear ones thou art truly dear.
(Exit ANTIGONE on the spectators' left. ISMENE retires into the
palace by one of the two side-doors. When they have departed, the
CHORUS OF THEBAN ELDERS enters.)