that evil seems good, soon or late, to him whose mind the god draws to
mischief; and but for the briefest space doth he fare free of woe.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
But lo, Haemon, the last of thy sons;-Comes he grieving for the
doom of his promised bride, Antigone, and bitter for the baffled
hope of his marriage?
We shall know soon, better than seers could tell us.-My son,
hearing the fixed doom of thy betrothed, art thou come in rage against
thy father? Or have I thy good will, act how I may?
Father, I am thine; and thou, in thy wisdom, tracest for me
rules which I shall follow. No marriage shall be deemed by me a
greater gain than thy good guidance.
Yea, this, my son, should be thy heart's fixed law,-in all
things to obey thy father's will. 'Tis for this that men pray to see
dutiful children grow up around them in their homes,-that such may
requite their father's foe with evil, and honour, as their father
doth, his friend. But he who begets unprofitable children-what shall
we say that he hath sown, but troubles for himself, and much triumph
for his foes? Then do not thou, my son, at pleasure's beck, dethrone
thy reason for a woman's sake; knowing that this is a joy that soon
grows cold in clasping arms,-an evil woman to share thy bed and thy
home. For what wound could strike deeper than a false friend? Nay,
with loathing, and as if she were thine enemy, let this girl go to
find a husband in the house of Hades. For since I have taken her,
alone of all the city, in open disobedience, I will not make myself
a liar to my people-I will slay her.
So let her appeal as she will to the majesty of kindred blood.
If I am to nurture mine own kindred in naughtiness, needs must I
bear with it in aliens. He who does his duty in his own household will
be found righteous in the State also. But if any one transgresses, and
does violence to the laws, or thinks to dictate to his rulers, such an
one can win no praise from me. No, whomsoever the city may appoint,
that man must be obeyed, in little things and great, in just things
and unjust; and I should feel sure that one who thus obeys would be
a good ruler no less than a good subject, and in the storm of spears
would stand his ground where he was set, loyal and dauntless at his
But disobedience is the worst of evils. This it is that ruins
cities; this makes homes desolate; by this, the ranks of allies are
broken into head-long rout; but, of the lives whose course is fair,
the greater part owes safety to obedience. Therefore we must support
the cause of order, and in no wise suffer a woman to worst us.
Better to fall from power, if we must, by a man's hand; then we should
not be called weaker than a woman.
To us, unless our years have stolen our wit, thou seemest to say
wisely what thou sayest.
Father, the gods implant reason in men, the highest of all
things that we call our own. Not mine the skill-far from me be the
quest!-to say wherein thou speakest not aright; and yet another man,
too, might have some useful thought. At least, it is my natural office
to watch, on thy behalf, all that men say, or do, or find to blame.
For the dread of thy frown forbids the citizen to speak such words
as would offend thine ear; but can hear these murmurs in the dark,
these moanings of the city for this maiden; 'no woman,' they say,
'ever merited her doom less,-none ever was to die so shamefully for
deeds so glorious as hers; who, when her own brother had fallen in
bloody strife, would not leave him unburied, to be devoured by carrion
dogs, or by any bird:-deserves not she the meed of golden honour?'