Lo, yonder the king himself draws near, bearing that which
tells too clear a tale,-the work of no stranger’s madness,-if we may say
it,-but of his own misdeeds.
Woe for the sins of a darkened soul, stubborn sins, fraught with death!
Ah, ye behold us, the sire who hath slain, the son who hath perished! Woe
is me, for the wretched blindness of my counsels! Alas, my son, thou hast
died in thy youth, by a timeless doom, woe is me!-thy spirit hath fled,-not
by thy folly, but by mine own!
Ah me, how all too late thou seemest to see the right!
CREON Ah me, I have learned the bitter lesson! But then, methinks, oh then, some god smote me from above with crushing weight, and hurledme into ways of cruelty, woe is me,-overthrowing and trampling on my joy! Woe, woe, for the troublous toils of men!
Enter MESSENGER from the house.
Sire, thou hast come, methinks, as one whose hands are
not empty, but who hath store laid up besides; thou bearest yonder
burden with thee-and thou art soon to look upon the woes within thy
And what worse ill is yet to follow upon ills?
Thy queen hath died, true mother of yon corpse-ah, hapless
lady by blows newly dealt.
Oh Hades, all-receiving whom no sacrifice can appease! Hast thou,
then, no mercy for me? O thou herald of evil, bitter tidings, what
word dost thou utter? Alas, I was already as dead, and thou hast smitten
me anew! What sayest thou, my son? What is this new message that thou
bringest-woe, woe is me!-Of a wife’s doom-of slaughter headed on slaughter?
Thou canst behold: ’tis no longer hidden within.
The doors of the palace are opened, and the corpse of EURYDICE is disclosed.
Ah me,-yonder I behold a new, a second woe! What destiny, ah what,
can yet await me? I have but now raised my son in my arms,-and there,
again, I see a corpse before me! Alas, alas, unhappy mother! Alas,
There, at the altar, self-stabbed with a keen knife, she
suffered her darkening eyes to close, when she had wailed for the
noble fate of Megareus who died before, and then for his fate who
lies there,-and when, with her last breath, she had invoked evil fortunes
upon thee, the slayer of thy sons.
Woe, woe! I thrill with dread. Is there none to strike me to the
heart with two-edged sword?-O miserable that I am, and steeped in
Yea, both this son’s doom, and that other’s, were laid
to thy charge by her whose corpse thou seest.
And what was the manner of the violent deed by which she passed
Her own hand struck her to the heart, when she had learned
her son’s sorely lamented fate.
Ah me, this guilt can never be fixed on any other of mortal kind,
for my acquittal! I, even I, was thy slayer, wretched that I am-I
own the truth. Lead me away, O my servants, lead me hence with all
speed, whose life is but as death!
Thy counsels are good, if there can be good with ills; briefest
is best, when trouble is in our path.
Oh, let it come, let it appear, that fairest of fates for me, that
brings my last day,-aye, best fate of all! Oh, let it come, that I
may never look upon to-morrow’s light.
These things are in the future; present tasks claim our care:
the ordering of the future rests where it should rest.
All my desires, at least, were summed in that prayer.
Pray thou no more; for mortals have no escape from destined
Lead me away, I pray you; a rash, foolish man; who have slain thee,
ah my son, unwittingly, and thee, too, my wife-unhappy that I am!
I know not which way I should bend my gaze, or where I should seek
support; for all is amiss with that which is in my hands,-and yonder,
again, a crushing fate hath leapt upon my head.
As CREON is being conducted into the palace, the LEADER OF THE CHORUS speaks the closing verses.
Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness; and reverence towards
the gods must be inviolate. Great words of prideful men are ever punished
with great blows, and, in old age, teach the chastened to be wise.
Sourced from: https://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/antigone.html