been lost. For when a man hath forfeited his pleasures, I count him
not as living,-I hold him but a breathing corpse. Heap up riches in
thy house, if thou wilt; live in kingly state; yet, if there be no
gladness therewith, I would not give the shadow of a vapour for all
the rest, compared with joy.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS
And what is this new grief that thou hast to tell for our princes?
Death; and the living are guilty for the dead.
And who is the slayer? Who the stricken? Speak.
Haemon hath perished; his blood hath been shed by no stranger.
By his father's hand, or by his own?
By his own, in wrath with his sire for the murder.
O prophet, how true, then, hast thou proved thy word!
These things stand thus; ye must consider of the rest.
Lo, I see the hapless Eurydice, Creon's wife, approaching; she
comes from the house by chance, haply,-or because she knows the
tidings of her son.
(Enter EURYDICE from the palace.)
People of Thebes, I heard your words as I was going forth, to
salute the goddess Pallas with my prayers. Even as I was loosing the
fastenings of the gate, to open it, the message of a household woe
smote on mine ear: I sank back, terror-stricken, into the arms of my
handmaids, and my senses fled. But say again what the tidings were;
I shall hear them as one who is no stranger to sorrow.
Dear lady, I will witness of what I saw, and will leave no word of
the truth untold. Why, indeed, should I soothe thee with words in
which must presently be found false? Truth is ever best.-I attended
thy lord as his guide to the furthest part of the plain, where the
body of Polyneices, torn by dogs, still lay unpitied. We prayed the
goddess of the roads, and Pluto, in mercy to restrain their wrath;
we washed the dead with holy washing; and with freshly-plucked
boughs we solemnly burned such relics as there were. We raised a
high mound of his native earth; and then we turned away to enter the
maiden's nuptial chamber with rocky couch, the caverned mansion of the
bride of Death. And, from afar off, one of us heard a voice of loud
wailing at that bride's unhallowed bower; and came to tell our
And as the king drew nearer, doubtful sounds of a bitter cry
floated around him; he groaned, and said in accents of anguish,
'Wretched that I am, can my foreboding be true? Am I going on the
wofullest way that ever I went? My son's voice greets me.-Go, my
servants,-haste ye nearer, and when ye have reached the tomb, pass
through the gap, where the stones have been wrenched away, to the
cell's very mouth,-and look. and see if 'tis Haemon's voice that I
know, or if mine ear is cheated by the gods.'
This search, at our despairing master's word, we went to make; and
in the furthest part of the tomb we descried her hanging by the
neck, slung by a thread-wrought halter of fine linen: while he was
embracing her with arms thrown around her waist, bewailing the loss of
his bride who is with the dead, and his father's deeds, and his own
But his father, when he saw him, cried aloud with a dread cry
and went in, and called to him with a voice of wailing:-'Unhappy, what
deed hast thou done! What thought hath come to thee? What manner of