Why, has not Creon honoured one of our brothers and dishonoured the other in the matter of their burial? Eteocles, they say, in accordance with justice and with custom he has hidden beneath the earth, honoured among the dead below. But as for the unhappy corpse of Polynices, they say it has been proclaimed to the citizens that none shall conceal it in a grave or lament for it, but that they should leave it unwept for, unburied, a rich treasure house for birds as they look out for food. This is the proclamation which they say the good Creon has made to you and me—yes, I count myself also—and he is coming this way to make the proclamation clear to those who do not know of it. He is not treating the matter as unimportant, but for anyone who does any of these things death in the city is ordained, by stoning at the people’s hand. There you have the way things stand, and you will soon show whether your nature is noble or you are the cowardly descendant of valiant ancestors. (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones)
And in his fury some god showed her to him; it was none of us men who stood nearby. And with a dreadful cry, as though someone were guiding him he rushed at the double doors, forced the bolts inward from their sockets and fell into the room. There we saw the woman hanging, her neck tied in a twisted noose. And when he saw her, with a fearful roar, poor man, he untied the knot from which she hung; and when the unhappy woman lay upon the ground, what we saw next was terrible. For he broke off the golden pins from her raiment, with which she was adorned, and lifting up his eyes struck them, uttering such words as these: that they should not see his dread sufferings or his dread actions, but in the future they should see in darkness those they never should have seen, and fail to recognise those he wished to know. Repeating such words as these he lifted up his eyes and not once but many times struck them; the bleeding eyeballs soaked his cheeks, and did not cease to drip. (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones)
CHO. Where, where lies the unmanageable Ajax of ill-omened name?
TEC. He must not be looked upon! I shall cover him completely with this cloak folded about him, since none that was a friend could bear to look upon him spurting blood upwards to his nostrils, and the black gore from the deadly wound inflicted by self-slaughter. (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones)
A-a-a-a-h! Cephallenian stranger, I wish this pain would go right through your chest! Ah, ah, alas! Alas once more! O you two generals, [Agamemnon, O Menelaus, if only instead of me] may you feed this sickness for an equal time! Ah me! O death, death, why can you never come, though I do not cease to call you thus each day? O my son, O my noble son, take me and burn me with this fire that is invoked as Lemnian, noble one! I also once consented to do this to the son of Zeus in return for those weapons which you now are guarding! What do you say, boy? What do you say? Why are you silent? Where are you, my son? (tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones)
CRE. Was not he who dies on the other side also your brother?
ANT. My brother with the same mother and the same father.
CRE. Then how can you render the other a grace which is impious towards him?
ANT. The dead body will not bear witness to that.
CRE. Yes, if you honour him equally with the impious one.
ANT. It was not a slave, but my brother who had died.
CRE. But he was trying to destroy this country, and the other stood against him to protect it.
ANT. None the less, Hades demands these laws.
CRE. But the noble man has not equal claim to honour with the evil.
ANT. Who knows if this action is free from blame in the world below?
CRE. An enemy is never a friend, even when he is dead.
ANT. I have no enemies by birth, but I have friends by birth.
CRE. Then go below and love those friends, if you must love them! But while I live a woman shall not rule!