Is it a merit to honour the unruly?
I could wish no one to show respect for evil-doers.
Then is not she tainted with that malady?
Our Theban folk, with one voice, denies it.
Shall Thebes prescribe to me how I must rule?
See, there thou hast spoken like a youth indeed.
Am I to rule this land by other judgment than mine own?
That is no city which belongs to one man.
Is not the city held to be the ruler’s?
Thou wouldst make a good monarch of a desert.
This boy, it seems, is the woman’s champion.
If thou art a woman; indeed, my care is for thee.
Shameless, at open feud with thy father!
Nay, I see thee offending against justice.
Do I offend, when I respect mine own prerogatives?
O dastard nature, yielding place to woman!
Thou wilt never find me yield to baseness.
All thy words, at least, plead for that girl.
And for thee, and for me, and for the gods below.
Thou canst never marry her, on this side the grave.
Then she must die, and in death destroy another.
How! doth thy boldness run to open threats?
What threat is it, to combat vain resolves?
Thou shalt rue thy witless teaching of wisdom.
Wert thou not my father, I would have called thee unwise.
Thou woman’s slave, use not wheedling speech with me.
Thou wouldest speak, and then hear no reply?
Sayest thou so? Now, by the heaven above us-be sure of it-thou shalt smart for taunting me in this opprobrious strain. Bring forth that hated thing, that she may die forthwith in his presence-before his eyes-at her bridegroom’s side!
Dost thou indeed purpose to slay both?
Not her whose hands are pure: thou sayest well.
And by what doom mean’st thou to slay the other?
I will take her where the path is loneliest, and hide her, living, in rocky vault, with so much food set forth as piety prescribes, that the city may avoid a public stain. And there, praying to Hades, the only god whom she worships, perchance she will obtain release from death; or else will learn, at last, though late, that it is lost labour to revere the dead.
Love, unconquered in the fight, Love, who makest havoc of wealth, who keepest thy vigil on the soft cheek of a maiden; thou roamest over the sea, and among the homes of dwellers in the wilds; no immortal can escape thee, nor any among men whose life is for a day; and he to whom thou hast come is mad.
The just themselves have their minds warped by thee to wrong, for their ruin: ’tis thou that hast stirred up this present strife of kinsmen; victorious is the love-kindling light from the eyes of the fair bride; it is a power enthroned in sway beside the eternal laws; for there the goddess Aphrodite is working her unconquerable will.
See me, citizens of my fatherland, setting forth on my last way, looking my last on the sunlight that is for me no more; no, Hades who gives sleep to all leads me living to Acheron’s shore; who have had no portion in the chant that brings the bride, nor hath any song been mine for the crowning of bridals; whom the lord of the Dark Lake shall wed.
Glorious, therefore, and with praise, thou departest to that deep place of the dead: wasting sickness hath not smitten thee; thou hast not found the wages of the sword; no, mistress of thine own fate, and still alive, thou shalt pass to Hades, as no other of mortal kind hath passed.
Antigone by Sophocles