Thou hast rushed forward to the utmost verge of daring; and
against that throne where justice sits on high thou hast fallen, my
daughter, with a grievous fall. But in this ordeal thou art paying,
haply, for thy father's sin.
Thou hast touched on my bitterest thought,-awaking the ever-new
lament for my sire and for all the doom given to us, the famed house
of Labdacus. Alas for the horrors of the mother's bed! alas for the
wretched mother's slumber at the side of her own son,-and my sire!
From what manner of parents did I take my miserable being! And to them
I go thus, accursed, unwed, to share their home. Alas, my brother,
ill-starred in thy marriage, in thy death thou hast undone my life!
Reverent action claims a certain praise for reverence; but an
offence against power cannot be brooked by him who hath power in his
keeping. Thy self-willed temper hath wrought thy ruin.
Unwept, unfriended, without marriage-song, I am led forth in my
sorrow on this journey that can be delayed no more. No longer, hapless
one, may I behold yon day-star's sacred eye; but for my fate no tear
is shed, no friend makes moan.
(CREON enters from the palace.)
Know ye not that songs and wailings before death would never
cease, if it profited to utter them? Away with her-away! And when ye
have enclosed her, according to my word, in her vaulted grave, leave
her alone, forlorn-whether she wishes to die, or to live a buried life
in such a home. Our hands are clean as touching this maiden. But
this is certain-she shall be deprived of her sojourn in the light.
Tomb, bridal-chamber, eternal prison in the caverned rock, whither
go to find mine own, those many who have perished, and whom Persephone
hath received among the dead! Last of all shall I pass thither, and
far most miserably of all, before the term of my life is spent. But
I cherish good hope that my coming will be welcome to my father, and
pleasant to thee, my mother, and welcome, brother, to thee; for,
when ye died, with mine own hands I washed and dressed you, and poured
drink-offerings at your graves; and now, Polyneices, 'tis for
tending thy corpse that I win such recompense as this.
And yet I honoured thee, as the wise will deem, rightly. Never,
had been a mother of children, or if a husband had been mouldering
in death, would I have taken this task upon me in the city's
despite. What law, ye ask, is my warrant for that word? The husband
lost, another might have been found, and child from another, to
replace the first-born: but, father and mother hidden with Hades, no
brother's life could ever bloom for me again. Such was the law whereby
I held thee first in honour; but Creon deemed me guilty of error
therein, and of outrage, ah brother mine! And now he leads me thus,
a captive in his hands; no bridal bed, no bridal song hath been
mine, no joy of marriage, no portion in the nurture of children; but
thus, forlorn of friends, unhappy one, I go living to the vaults of
And what law of heaven have I transgressed? Why, hapless one,
should I look to the gods any more,-what ally should I invoke,-when by
piety I have earned the name of impious? Nay, then, if these things