Thursday, 13 March 2014

Antigone by Sophocles

SENTRY:  It was this way.  After I got back to the place,
With all your threats and curses ringing in my ears,
We swept off all the earth that covered the body,
And left it a sodden, naked corpse again;
Then sate up on the hill, on the windward side,
345 Keeping clear of the stench of him, as far as we could;
All of us keeping each other up to the mark,
With pretty sharp speaking, not to be caught napping this time.
So this went on some hours, till the flaming sun
Was high in the top of the sky, and the heat was blazing.
350 Suddenly a storm of dust, like a plague from heaven,
        Filling the sky; you had to shut your eyes
To stand against it.  When at last it stopped,
There was a girl, screaming like an angry bird,
355 When it finds its nest empty and little ones gone.
Just like that she screamed, seeing the body
Naked, crying and cursing the ones who had done it.
Then she picks up the dry earth in her hands,
And pouring out of a fine bronze urn she’s brought
360 She makes her offering three times to the dead15
Soon as we saw it, down we came and caught her.
She wasn’t at all frightened.  As so we charged her
With what she’d done before, and this.  She admitted it,
I’m glad to say—though sorry, too, in a way.
365 It’s good to save your own skin, but a pity
To have to see another get into trouble,
Whom you’ve no grudge against.  However, I can’t say
I’ve ever valued anyone else’s life

More than my own, and that’s the honest truth.

That order did not come from God.  Justice,
That dwells with the gods below, knows no such law.
380 I did not think your edicts strong enough
To overrule the unwritten unalterable laws
Of God and heaven, you being only a man.
They are not of yesterday or today, but everlasting
Though where they came from, none of us can tell.
385 Guilty of their transgression before God
I cannot be, for any man on earth.
I knew that I should die, of course,
With or without your order.   If it be soon,
So much the better.  Living in daily torment
390 As I do, who would not be glad to die?
This punishment will not be any pain.
Only if I let my mother’s son
Lie there unburied, then I could not have borne it.
This I can bear.  Does that seem foolish to you?
395 Or is it you that are foolish to judge me so?

CREON:           Ah, but you’ll see.  The over-obstinate spirit
Is soonest broken; as the strongest iron will snap 
400 If over-tempered in the fire to brittleness.
A little halter is enough to break
The wildest horse.  Proud thoughts do not sit well
Upon subordinates.  This girl’s proud spirit
Was first in evidence when she broke the law;
405 And now, to add insult to her injury,
She gloats over her deed.  But, as I live,
She shall not flout my orders with impunity.
My sister’s child—ay, were she ever nearer,
Nearest and dearest, she should not escape
410 Full punishment—she, and her sister too, 
Her partner, doubtless, in this burying.
Let her be fetched!  She was in the house just now;
I saw her, hardly in her right mind either.
Often the thoughts of those who plan dark deeds
415 Betray themselves before the deed is done.
The criminal who being caught still tries.
To make a fair excuse , is damned indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. Do you mind telling me what translation this is or where you got this text from? Thank you.