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School: University of South Florida
Department: Humanities
Course: Introduction to Humanities
Professor: Grounds
Term: Summer 2016
Tags: Humanities
Cost: 25
Name: Humanities, Week 2-3
Description: This set of notes include the excerpts of Antigone!
Uploaded: 01/30/2017
22 Pages 146 Views 1 Unlocks

How do you plan to kill Antigone?

In what kind of work?

Look—what’s Creon doing with our two brothers?

Antigone, translated by Ian Johnston, copyright Ian Johnston, reproduced  with permission. EXCERPT ONE: The opening of Sophocles' Antigone, set long ago in the  ancient city of Thebes. In this scene, the princess Antigone talks to her sister,  Ismene, about their two brothers who have died in the recent civil war. One  brother, Eteocles, will be given a propDon't forget about the age old question of anjum chida
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er burial, but the new king of Thebes has  declared that the other brother, Polyneices, will be left to rot in the sun and be  devoured by dogs and birds. Antigone is outraged by this because it goes  against the religious beliefs of the Greek people that every human being  deserves a proper burial. Antigone says that she will defy King Creon by burying  her brother, and she begs her sister Ismene to join her in this act of  disobedience. Ismene reminds Antigone of the horrible fate of their father,  Oedipus, who gouged out his own eyes after he discovered that the woman he  married had actually been his mother. [In Thebes, directly in front of the royal palace, which stands in the  background, its main doors facing the audience. Enter Antigone  leading Ismene away from the palace] ANTIGONE  Now, dear Ismene, my own blood sister,  do you have any sense of all the troubles  Zeus keeps bringing on the two of us,  as long as we’re alive? All that misery  which stems from Oedipus? There’s no suffering,  no shame, no ruin—not one dishonour—  which I have not seen in all the troubles  you and I go through. What’s this they’re saying now,  something our general has had proclaimed  throughout the city? Do you know of it?  Have you heard? Or have you just missed the news?  Dishonours which better fit our enemies  are now being piled up on the ones we love.ISMENE  I’ve had no word at all, Antigone,  nothing good or bad about our family,  not since we two lost both our brothers,   killed on the same day by a double blow.  And since the Argive army, just last night,  has gone away, I don’t know any more  if I’ve been lucky or face total ruin. ANTIGONE  I know that. That’s why I brought you here,  outside the gates, so only you can hear. ISMENE  What is it? The way you look makes it seem  you’re thinking of some dark and gloomy news. ANTIGONE  Look—what’s Creon doing with our two brothers?  He’s honouring one with a full funeral  and treating the other one disgracefully!  Eteocles, they say, has had his burial  according to our customary rites,  to win him honour with the dead below.  But as for Polyneices, who perished  so miserably, an order has gone out  throughout the city—that’s what people say.  He’s to have no funeral or lament, but to be left unburied and unwept,  a sweet treasure for the birds to look at,  for them to feed on to their heart’s content.  That’s what people say the noble Creon  has announced to you and me—I mean to me—  and now he’s coming to proclaim the fact,  to state it clearly to those who have not heard.  For Creon this matter’s really serious.  Anyone who acts against the order  will be stoned to death before the city.  Now you know, and you’ll quickly demonstrate  whether you are nobly born, or else  a girl unworthy of her splendid ancestors. ISMENE  Oh my poor sister, if that’s what’s happening,  what can I say that would be any help  to ease the situation or resolve it? ANTIGONE  Think whether you will work with me in this  and act together. ISMENE  In what kind of work?  What do you mean? ANTIGONE  Will you help these hands take up Polyneices’ corpse and bury it? ISMENE  What? You’re going to bury Polyneices,  when that’s been made a crime for all in Thebes? ANTIGONE  Yes. I’ll do my duty to my brother—  and yours as well, if you’re not prepared to.  I won’t be caught betraying him. ISMENE  You’re too rash.  Has Creon not expressly banned that act? ANTIGONE  Yes. But he’s no right to keep me from what’s mine. ISMENE  O dear. Think, Antigone. Consider  how our father died, hated and disgraced,  when those mistakes which his own search revealed  forced him to turn his hand against himself  and stab out both his eyes. Then that woman,  his mother and his wife—her double role—  destroyed her own life in a twisted noose.  Then there’s our own two brothers, both butchered  in a single day—that ill-fated pair  with their own hands slaughtered one another and brought about their common doom.  Now, the two of us are left here quite alone.  Think how we’ll die far worse than all the rest,  if we defy the law and move against  the king’s decree, against his royal power.  We must remember that by birth we’re women,  and, as such, we shouldn’t fight with men.  Since those who rule are much more powerful,  we must obey in this and in events  which bring us even harsher agonies.  So I’ll ask those underground for pardon—  since I’m being compelled, I will obey  those in control. That’s what I’m forced to do.  It makes no sense to try to do too much. ANTIGONE  I wouldn’t urge you to. No. Not even  if you were keen to act. Doing this with you  would bring me no joy. So be what you want.  I’ll still bury him. It would be fine to die  while doing that. I’ll lie there with him,  with a man I love, pure and innocent,  for all my crime. My honours for the dead  must last much longer than for those up here.  I’ll lie down there forever. As for you,  well, if you wish, you can show contempt  for those laws the gods all hold in honour. ISMENE I’m not disrespecting them. But I can’t act  against the state. That’s not in my nature. ANTIGONE  Let that be your excuse. I’m going now  to make a burial mound for my dear brother. ISMENE  Oh poor Antigone, I’m so afraid for you. ANTIGONE  Don’t fear for me. Set your own fate in order. ISMENE  Make sure you don’t reveal to anyone  what you intend. Keep it closely hidden.  I’ll do the same. ANTIGONE  No, no. Announce the fact—  if you don’t let everybody know,  I’ll despise your silence even more. ISMENE  Your heart is hot to do cold deeds. ANTIGONE  But I know  I’ll please the ones I’m duty bound to please.ISMENE  Yes, if you can. But you’re after something  which you’re incapable of carrying out. ANTIGONE  Well, when my strength is gone, then I’ll give up. ISMENE  A vain attempt should not be made at all. ANTIGONE  I’ll hate you if you’re going to talk that way.  And you’ll rightly earn the loathing of the dead.  So leave me and my foolishness alone—  we’ll get through this fearful thing. I won’t suffer  anything as bad as a disgraceful death. ISMENE  All right then, go, if that’s what you think right.  But remember this—even though your mission  makes no sense, your friends do truly love you. EXCERPT TWO: In this scene, Creon, the new king, addresses the people of  Thebes. He tells them his philosophy of government and explains why he will not give Polyneices a funeral. Because Polyneices has become a traitor to the city of Thebes, he has lost his basic human rights.CREON Men, after much tossing of our ship of state,  the gods have safely set things right again.  Of all the citizens I’ve summoned you,  because I know how well you showed respect  for the eternal power of the throne,  first with Laius and again with Oedipus,  once he restored our city. When he died,  you stood by his children, firm in loyalty.  Now his sons have perished in a single day,  killing each other with their own two hands,  a double slaughter, stained with brother’s blood.  And so I have the throne, all royal power,  for I’m the one most closely linked by blood  to those who have been killed. It’s impossible  to really know a man, to know his soul,  his mind and will, before one witnesses  his skill in governing and making laws.  For me, a man who rules the entire state  and does not take the best advice there is,  but through fear keeps his mouth forever shut,  such a man is the very worst of men —  and always will be. And a man who thinks  more highly of a friend than of his country,  well, he means nothing to me. Let Zeus know,  the god who always watches everything,  I would not stay silent if I saw disaster  moving here against the citizens, a threat to their security. For anyone  who acts against the state, its enemy,  I’d never make my friend. For I know well  our country is a ship which keeps us safe,  and only when it sails its proper course  do we make friends. These are the principles  I’ll use in order to protect our state.  That’s why I’ve announced to all citizens  my orders for the sons of Oedipus —  Eteocles, who perished in the fight  to save our city, the best and bravest  of our spearmen, will have his burial,  with all those purifying rituals  which accompany the noblest corpses,  as they move below. As for his brother—  that Polyneices, who returned from exile,  eager to wipe out in all-consuming fire  his ancestral city and its native gods,  keen to seize upon his family’s blood  and lead men into slavery—for him,  the proclamation in the state declares  he’ll have no burial mound, no funeral rites,  and no lament. He’ll be left unburied,  his body there for birds and dogs to eat,  a clear reminder of his shameful fate.  That’s my decision. For I’ll never act  to respect an evil man with honours  in preference to a man who’s acted well.  Anyone who’s well disposed towards our state, alive or dead, that man I will respect.  EXCERPT THREE: Here the chorus steps back from the immediate issues of the  story, and comments in more general terms on human nature. It speaks of the great  potential of human beings for both good and evil. CHORUS  There are many strange and wonderful things, but nothing more strangely wonderful than man.  He moves across the white-capped ocean seas  blasted by winter storms, carving his way  under the surging waves engulfing him.  With his teams of horses he wears down  the unwearied and immortal earth,  the oldest of the gods, harassing her,  as year by year his ploughs move back and forth. He snares the light-winged flocks of birds, herds of wild beasts, creatures from deep seas, trapped in the fine mesh of his hunting nets. O resourceful man, whose skill can overcome ferocious beasts roaming mountain heights. He curbs the rough-haired horses with his bit and tames the inexhaustible mountain bulls, setting their savage necks beneath his yoke. He’s taught himself speech and wind-swift thought, trained his feelings for communal civic life, learning to escape the icy shafts of frost, volleys of pelting rain in winter storms, the harsh life lived under the open sky. That’s man—so resourceful in all he does. There’s no event his skill cannot confront— other than death—that alone he cannot shun, although for many baffling sicknesses he has discovered his own remedies.The qualities of his inventive skills bring arts beyond his dreams and lead him on, sometimes to evil and sometimes to good. If he treats his country’s laws with due respect and honours justice by swearing on the gods, he wins high honours in his city. But when he grows bold and turns to evil, then he has no city. A man like that— let him not share my home or know my mind. EXCERPT FOUR: In this scene King Creon explains how he will punish Antigone for  defying his order to leave her borther's body unburied. Creon tells the chorus of Theban  citizens that he will seal Antigone inside a tomb while she is still alive. Antigone enters  and complains that she is being treated unjustly for trying to preserve justice. The  chorus tries to convince Antigone that justice means obeying Creon's authority as king,  but Antigone holds on to her convictions.CHORUS LEADER  How do you plan to kill Antigone? CREON  I’ll take her on a path no people use,  and hide her in a cavern in the rocks,  while still alive. I’ll set out provisions,  as much as piety requires, to make sure  the city is not totally corrupted.  Then she can speak her prayers to Hades,  the only god she worships, for success  avoiding death—or else, at least, she’ll learn,  although too late, how it’s a waste of time  to work to honour those whom Hades holds. [Antigone enters from the palace with attendants who are taking her away to her  execution] CHORAL LEADER  When I look at her I forget my place.  I lose restraint and can’t hold back my tears—  Antigone going to her bridal room  where all are laid to rest in death. ANTIGONE  Look at me, my native citizens,  as I go on my final journey,  as I gaze upon the sunlight one last time,  which I’ll never see again—for Hades,  who brings all people to their final sleep,  leads me on, while I’m still living,  down to the shores of Acheron. I’ve not yet had my bridal chant,  nor has any wedding song been sung—  for my marriage is to Acheron. CHORUS  Surely you carry fame with you and praise,  as you move to the deep home of the dead.  You were not stricken by lethal disease  or paid your wages with a sword.  No. You were in charge of your own fate.  So of all living human beings, you alone  make your way down to Hades still alive. ANTIGONE  I’ve heard about a guest of ours,  daughter of Tantalus, from Phrygia—  she went to an excruciating death  in Sipylus, right on the mountain peak.  The stone there, just like clinging ivy,  wore her down, and now, so people say,  the snow and rain never leave her there,  as she laments. Below her weeping eyes  her neck is wet with tears. God brings me  to a final rest which most resembles hers. CHORUS  But Niobe was a goddess, born divine—  and we are human beings, a race which dies.  But still, it’s a fine thing for a woman,  once she’s dead, to have it said she shared,  in life and death, the fate of demi-gods.ANTIGONE  Oh, you are mocking me! Why me—  by our fathers’ gods—why do you all,  my own city and the richest men of Thebes,  insult me now right to my face,  without waiting for my death?  Well at least I have Dirce’s springs,  the holy grounds of Thebes,  a city full of splendid chariots,  to witness how no friends lament for me  as I move on—you see the laws  which lead me to my rock-bound prison,  a tomb made just for me. Alas!  In my wretchedness I have no home,  not with human beings or corpses,  not with the living or the dead. CHORUS  You pushed your daring to the limit, my child,  and tripped against Justice’s high altar—  perhaps your agonies are paying back  some compensation for your father. ANTIGONE  Now there you touch on my most painful thought—  my father’s destiny—always on my mind,  along with that whole fate which sticks to us,  the splendid house of Labdakos—the curse  arising from a mother’s marriage bed,  when she had sex with her own son, my father. From what kind of parents was I born,  their wretched daughter? I go to them,  unmarried and accursed, an outcast.  Alas, too, for my brother Polyneices,  who made a fatal marriage and then died—  and with that death killed me while still alive. CHORUS  To be piously devout shows reverence,  but powerful men, who in their persons  incorporate authority, cannot bear  anyone to break their rules. Hence, you die  because of your own selfish will. ANTIGONE  Without lament, without a friend,  and with no marriage song, I’m being led  in this miserable state, along my final road.  So wretched that I no longer have the right  to look upon the sun, that sacred eye.  But my fate prompts no tears, and no friend mourns. CREON  Don’t you know that no one faced with death  would ever stop the singing and the groans,  if that would help? Take her and shut her up,  as I have ordered, in her tomb’s embrace.  And get it done as quickly as you can.  Then leave her there alone, all by herself—  she can sort out whether she wants suicide  or remains alive, buried in a place like that. As far as she’s concerned, we bear no guilt.  But she’s lost her place living here with us. ANTIGONE  Oh my tomb and bridal chamber—  my eternal hollow dwelling place,  where I go to join my people. Most of them  have perished—Persephone has welcomed them  among the dead. I’m the last one, dying here  the most evil death by far, as I move down  before the time allotted for my life is done.  But I go nourishing the vital hope  my father will be pleased to see me come,  and you, too, my mother, will welcome me,  as well as you, my own dear brother.  When you died, with my own hands I washed you.  I arranged your corpse and at the grave mound  poured out libations. But now, Polyneices,  this is my reward for covering your corpse.  However, for wise people I was right  to honour you. I’d never have done it  for children of my own, not as their mother,  nor for a dead husband lying in decay—  no, not in defiance of the citizens.  What law do I appeal to, claiming this?  If my husband died, there’d be another one,  and if I were to lose a child of mine  I’d have another with some other man.]  But since my father and my mother, too,  are hidden away in Hades’ house, I’ll never have another living brother.  That was the law I used to honour you.  But Creon thought that I was in the wrong  and acting recklessly for you, my brother.  Now he seizes me by force and leads me here—  no wedding and no bridal song, no share  in married life or raising children.  Instead I go in sorrow to my grave,  without my friends, to die while still alive.  What holy justice have I violated?  In my wretchedness, why should I still look  up to the gods? Which one can I invoke  to bring me help, when for my reverence  they charge me with impiety? Well, then,  if this is something fine among the gods,  I’ll come to recognize that I’ve done wrong.  But if these people here are being unjust  may they endure no greater punishment  than the injustices they’re doing to me. CHORUS LEADER  The same storm blasts continue to attack  the mind in this young girl. CREON  Then those escorting her  will be sorry they’re so slow. ANTIGONE  Alas, then,  those words mean death is very near at hand.CREON  I won’t encourage you or cheer you up,  by saying the sentence won’t be carried out. ANTIGONE  O city of my fathers  in this land of Thebes—  and my ancestral gods,  I am being led away.  No more delaying for me.  Look on me, you lords of Thebes,  the last survivor of your royal house,  see what I have to undergo,  the kind of men who do this to me,  for paying reverence to true piety. [Antigone is led away under escort] EXCERPT FIVE: In this scene from the end of the play, the chorus tells Queen  Eurydice about what has happened to her son, Haemon, who had been engaged to  Antigone. The chorus explains that Haemon was found by his father, King Creon, inside  Antigone's tomb. Haemon had entered the tomb, and when he discovered that Antigone  had hung herself, he used his sword to take his own life. The chorus underlines the moral of the story by blaming the death of Haemon on the “thoughtlessness” of his father,  Creon. At the end of the scene, Eurydice goes towards the palace, where she will commit suicide herself. EURYDICE  Citizens of Thebes, I heard you talking,  as I was walking out, going off to pray,  to ask for help from goddess Pallas.  While I was unfastening the gate, I heard someone speaking of bad news  about my family. I was terrified.  I collapsed, fainting back into the arms  of my attendants. So tell the news again—  I’ll listen. I’m no stranger to misfortune. MESSENGER  Dear lady, I’ll speak of what I saw,  omitting not one detail of the truth.  Why should I ease your mind with a report  which turns out later to be incorrect?  The truth is always best. I went to the plain,  accompanying your husband as his guide.  Polyneices’ corpse, still unlamented,  was lying there, the greatest distance off,  torn apart by dogs. We prayed to Pluto  and to Hecate, goddess of the road,  for their good will and to restrain their rage.  We gave the corpse a ritual wash, and burned  what was left of it on fresh-cut branches.  We piled up a high tomb of his native earth.  Then we moved to the young girl’s rocky cave,  the hollow cavern of that bride of death.  From far away one man heard a voice  coming from the chamber where we’d put her  without a funeral—a piercing cry.  He went to tell our master Creon,  who, as he approached the place, heard the sound,  an unintelligible scream of sorrow.  He groaned and then spoke out these bitter words, "Has misery made me a prophet now?  And am I travelling along a road  that takes me to the worst of all disasters?  I’ve just heard the voice of my own son.  You servants, go ahead—get up there fast.  Remove the stones piled in the entrance way,  then stand beside the tomb and look in there  to see if that was Haemon’s voice I heard,  or if the gods have been deceiving me."  Following what our desperate master asked,  we looked. In the furthest corner of the tomb  we saw Antigone hanging by the neck,  held up in a noose—fine woven linen.  Haemon had his arms around her waist—  he was embracing her and crying out  in sorrow for the loss of his own bride,  now among the dead, his father’s work,  and for his horrifying marriage bed.  Creon saw him, let out a fearful groan,  then went inside and called out anxiously,  "You unhappy boy, what have you done?  What are you thinking? Have you lost your mind?  Come out, my child—I’m begging you—please come."  But the boy just stared at him with savage eyes,  spat in his face and, without saying a word,  drew his two-edged sword. Creon moved away,  so the boy’s blow failed to strike his father.  Angry at himself, the ill-fated lad  right then and there leaned into his own sword, driving half the blade between his ribs.  While still conscious he embraced the girl  in his weak arms, and, as he breathed his last,  he coughed up streams of blood on her fair cheek.  Now he lies there, corpse on corpse, his marriage  has been fulfilled in chambers of the dead.  The unfortunate boy has shown all men  how, of all the evils which afflict mankind,  the most disastrous one is thoughtlessness. [Eurydice turns and slowly returns into the palace]

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