CREON

Thou-thou whose face is bent to earth-dost thou avow, or disavow, this deed?

ANTIGONE

I avow it; I make no denial.

CREON to GUARD

Thou canst betake thee whither thou wilt, free and clear of a grave charge.

Exit GUARDTo ANTIGONE

Now, tell me thou-not in many words, but briefly-knewest thou that an edict had forbidden this?

ANTIGONE

I knew it: could I help it? It was public.

CREON

And thou didst indeed dare to transgress that law?

ANTIGONE

Yes; for it was not Zeus that had published me that edict; not such are the laws set among men by the justice who dwells with the gods below; nor deemed I that thy decrees were of such force, that a mortal could override the unwritten and unfailing statutes of heaven. For their life is not of to-day or yesterday, but from all time, and no man knows when they were first put forth. 

Not through dread of any human pride could I answer to the gods for breaking these. Die I must,-I knew that well (how should I not?)-evenwithout thy edicts. But if I am to die before my time, I count that a gain: for when any one lives, as I do, compassed about with evils, can such an one find aught but gain in death? 

So for me to meet this doom is trifling grief; but if I had suffered my mother’s son to lie in death an unburied corpse, that would have grieved me; for this, I am not grieved. And if my present deeds are foolish in thy sight, it may be that a foolish judge arraigns my folly.

LEADER OF THE CHORUS

The maid shows herself passionate child of passionate sire, and knows not how to bend before troubles.

CREON

Yet I would have thee know that o’er-stubborn spirits are most often humbled; ’tis the stiffest iron, baked to hardness in the fire, that thou shalt oftenest see snapped and shivered; and I have known horses that show temper brought to order by a little curb; there is no room for pride when thou art thy neighbour’s slave.-This girl was already versed in insolence when she transgressed the laws that had been set forth; and, that done, lo, a second insult,-to vaunt of this, and exult in her deed. 

Now verily I am no man, she is the man, if this victory shall rest with her, and bring no penalty. No! be she sister’s child, or nearer to me in blood than any that worships Zeus at the altar of our house,-she and her kinsfolk shall not avoid a doom most dire; for indeed I charge that other with a like share in the plotting of this burial. 

And summon her-for I saw her e’en now within,-raving, and not mistress of her wits. So oft, before the deed, the mind stands self-convicted in its treason, when folks are plotting mischief in the dark. But verily this, too, is hateful,-when one who hath been caught in wickednes then seeks to make the crime a glory.

ANTIGONE

Wouldst thou do more than take and slay me?

CREON

No more, indeed; having that, I have all.

ANTIGONE

Why then dost thou delay? In thy discourse there is nought that pleases me,-never may there be!-and so my words must needs be unpleasing to thee. And yet, for glory-whence could I have won a nobler, than by giving burial to mine own brother? All here would own that they thought it well, were not their lips sealed by fear. But royalty, blest in so much besides, hath the power to do and say what it will.

CREON

Thou differest from all these Thebans in that view.

ANTIGONE

These also share it; but they curb their tongues for thee.

CREON

And art thou not ashamed to act apart from them?

ANTIGONE

No; there is nothing shameful in piety to a brother.

CREON

Was it not a brother, too, that died in the opposite cause?

ANTIGONE

Brother by the same mother and the same sire.

CREON

Why, then, dost thou render a grace that is impious in his sight?

ANTIGONE

The dead man will not say that he so deems it.

CREON

Yea, if thou makest him but equal in honour with the wicked.

ANTIGONE

It was his brother, not his slave, that perished.

CREON

Wasting this land; while he fell as its champion.

ANTIGONE

Nevertheless, Hades desires these rites.

CREON

But the good desires not a like portion with the evil.

ANTIGONE

Who knows but this seems blameless in the world below?

CREON

A foe is never a friend-not even in death.

ANTIGONE

Tis not my nature to join in hating, but in loving.

CREON

Pass, then, to the world of the dead, and, it thou must needs love, love them. While I live, no woman shall rule me.

Enter ISMENE from the house, led in by two attendants.
Antigone by Sophocles