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- Specimens of Greek Tragedy - 30/44 -


I love not one whose friendship ends in words.

ISMENE.

Sister, deny me not the privilege Of sharing both thy piety and death.

ANTIGONE.

Share not my death, nor claim the work in which Thou hadst no hand; that I die is enough.

ISMENE.

What can life be to me, bereft of thee?

ANTIGONE.

Ask Creon, he is nearest thee in love.

ISMENE.

Why dost thou gird at me thus fruitlessly?

ANTIGONE.

My laugh is bitter when I laugh at thee.

ISMENE.

What can I do to aid thee even now?

ANTIGONE.

What, save thyself! I grudge not thy escape.

ISMENE.

Alack! and must I let thee die alone?

ANTIGONE.

Yes; for thy choice was life, and mine was death.

ISMENE.

But not unspoken was my mind to thee.

ANTIGONE.

Thy course was here approved, but mine below.

ISMENE.

Yet was the fault of both of us the same.

ANTIGONE.

Be of good cheer, thou livest; but my soul Is with the dead, to whom my care is due.

CREON.

Of these two sisters, one, it seems to me, Has lost her wits, and one was witless born.

ISMENE.

O Prince, the reason that is born in us Abides not in the wretched, but departs.

CREON.

From thee it fled when thou didst share her crime.

ISMENE.

Without this maiden what can life be worth?

CREON.

Say not "this maiden," for she is no more.

ISMENE.

Wilt thou slay her that is thy son's betrothed?

CREON.

We shall find other fields enough to plough,

ISMENE.

Thou wilt not find such unison of hearts.

CREON.

I do not want a bad wife for my son.

ANTIGONE.

Dear Haemon, how thy father slights thy love.

CREON.

Thou and thy marriage are a weariness.

ISMENE.

Wilt thou bereave thy child of his betrothed?

CREON.

Hades it is that shall these nuptials bar.

ISMENE.

It is resolved, it seems, that she shall die.

CREON.

There I agree with thee. No more delay. Slaves, take her in, and henceforth let these maids Be women, and no more be left at large. The stoutest hearts are apt to think of flight, When they perceive that death is drawing near.

* * * * *

_THE CONTEST BETWEEN LOVE AND FILIAL DUTY._

LINES 631-780.

CREON.

Soon shall we know, my son, past prophecy Whether, apprised of that our fixed decree, Thou com'st in wrath upon thy bride's account Or all we do is pleasing unto thee.

HAEMON.

My father, I am thine; thy wisdom guides My steps aright and I will follow it; No marriage can be dearer to my heart Than is the blessing of thy governance.

CREON.

Be this, my son, implanted in thy breast, Still to thy father's judgment to defer. This is the reason for which men desire To rear obedient offspring in their homes, Who may confront their father's enemy, And with him render service to his friends. The father of unprofitable sons-- What does he else but for himself beget Trouble and exultation for his foes? Never, my Haemon, for a woman's love Let go thy better judgment. Thou must know That cold and comfortless is the embrace Of a bad partner in the marriage bed. What sore is worse than ill-requited love? Then cast away this maiden from thy heart, And let her nuptial bower in Hades be, Since I have openly convicted her Of breaking law, by all beside obeyed. My public act I will not falsify,

The maid shall die; howe'er she may descant On sacred kinship. If at home I give Disorder license, where will order reign? Whoever governs his own house aright Will be a worthy member of the State. The bold transgressor that defies the law, Or thinks to override authority, Need look for no encouragement from me The lawful ruler's word must be obeyed, Just or unjust, in great things and in small. Who does this, I will warrant him a man Fit to command alike and to obey, And one who in the battle's storm will stand Bravely and staunchly at his comrade's side. There is no greater curse than anarchy; It works the overthrow of commonwealths, Lays homes in ruin, in the battle-field Puts armies to the rout, while victory And safety are the meed of discipline. So must we stand by that which is decreed, And not to an usurping woman yield. Fall if we must, a man shall deal the blow: 'Twere shame to think a woman vanquished us.

CHORUS.

If age our judgment dims not, thou hast dealt Rightly with all things which thy speech concerns.

HAEMON.


Specimens of Greek Tragedy - 30/44

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