CLASSICAL GREEK TRAGEDY
SOPHOCLES (496?-406 B.C.)
An English Version by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald
SCENE: Before the Palace of Creon, King of Thebes. A central double door, and two
lateral doors. A platform extends the length of the façade, and from this platform
three steps lead down into the “orchestra”, or chorus-ground. TIME: Dawn of the
day after the repulse of the Argive army from the assault on Thebes.
[ANTIGONE and ISMENE enter from the central door of the Palace.]
Ismene, dear sister,
You would think that we had already suffered enough
For the curse on Oedipus:1
I cannot imagine any grief
That you and I have not gone through. And now ––
Have they told you of the new decree of our King Creon?
I have heard nothing: I know
That two sisters lost two brothers, a double death
In a single hour; and I know that the Argive army
Fled in the night; but beyond this, nothing.
I thought so. And that is why I wanted you
To come out here with me. There is something we must do.
Oedipus, once King of Thebes, was the father of Antigone and Ismene, and of their brothers Polyneices and Eteocles. Oedipus
unwittingly killed his father, Laios, and married his own mother, Iocaste. When he learned what he had done, he blinded
himself and left Thebes. Eteocles and Polyneices quarreled, Polyneices was driven out but returned to assault Thebes. In the
battle each brother killed the other; Creon became king and ordered that Polyneices be left to rot unburied on the battlefield as a
traitor. [Editors’ note]
Why do you speak so strangely?
Creon buried our brother Eteoclês
With military honors, gave him a soldier’s funeral,