"Antigone" by Sophocles

After defying her uncle, the king of Thebes, Antigone is sentenced to death. This classical tragedy, translated from the Greek by Francis Storr, explores the tension between duty and family.

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  1. grievous

    causing or marked by grief or anguish
    To me, Antigone, no word of friends

    Has come, or glad or
    grievous, since we twain

    Were reft of our two brethren in one day

    By double fratricide
  2. lament

    a cry of sorrow and grief
    But Polyneices, a dishonored corse,

    (So by report the royal edict runs)

    No man may bury him or make

    Must leave him tombless and unwept
  3. promulgate

    put a law into effect by formal declaration
    Such is the edict (if report speak true)

    Of Creon, our most noble Creon, aimed

    At thee and me, aye me too; and anon

    He will be here to
    promulgate, for such

    As have not heard, his mandate
  4. transgress

    act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises
    ...'tis in sooth

    No passing humor, for the edict says

    transgresses shall be stoned to death.
  5. abet

    assist or encourage, usually in some wrongdoing
    Say, wilt thou aid me and
  6. abhor

    find repugnant
    Bethink thee, sister, of our father's fate,

    Abhorred, dishonored, self-convinced of sin,

    Blinded, himself his executioner.
  7. abide

    How sweet to die in such employ, to rest,—

    Sister and brother linked in love's embrace—

    A sinless sinner, banned awhile on earth,

    But by the dead commended; and with them

    I shall
    abide for ever.
  8. specious

    plausible but false
    specious pretext.
  9. vindicate

    maintain, uphold, or defend
    Against our land the proud invader came

    vindicate fell Polyneices' claim.
  10. paean

    a hymn of praise
    For Zeus who hates the braggart's boast

    Beheld that gold-bespangled host;

    As at the goal the
    paean they upraise,

    He struck them with his forked lightning blaze.
  11. discern

    detect with the senses
    Yet 'tis no easy matter to

    The temper of a man, his mind and will,

    Till he be proved by exercise of power
  12. miscreant

    a person without moral scruples
    But for the
    miscreant exile who returned

    Minded in flames and ashes to blot out

    His father's city and his father's gods,

    And glut his vengeance with his kinsmen's blood
  13. precedence

    the act of coming before in time or order or rank
    ...never by my will

    Shall miscreants take
    precedence of true men,

    But all good patriots, alive or dead,

    Shall be by me preferred and honored.
  14. inter

    place in a grave or tomb
    The corpse had vanished, not
    interred in earth,

    But strewn with dust, as if by one who sought

    To avert the curse that haunts the unburied dead:

    Of hound or ravening jackal, not a sign.
  15. gainsay

    take exception to
    Our quest was at a standstill, when one spake

    And bowed us all to earth like quivering reeds,

    For there was no
    gainsaying him nor way

    To escape perdition
  16. perdition

    the place or state in which one suffers eternal punishment
    Our quest was at a standstill, when one spake

    And bowed us all to earth like quivering reeds,

    For there was no gainsaying him nor way

    To escape
  17. arrant

    complete and without qualification
    Is it not
    arrant folly to pretend

    That gods would have a thought for this dead man?
  18. bestow

    give as a gift
    Or perchance

    The gods
    bestow their favors on the bad.
  19. malcontent

    a person who is unsatisfied or disgusted
    I have long noted

    Who wagged their heads, and kicked against the yoke,

    Misliking these my orders, and my rule.
  20. suborn

    incite to commit a crime or an evil deed
    'Tis they, I warrant, who
    suborned my guards

    By bribes.
  21. inveterate

    in a habitual and longstanding manner
    What an
    inveterate babbler! get thee gone!
  22. brazen

    made of or resembling brass, as in color or hardness
    Anon she gathered handfuls of dry dust,

    Then, holding high a well-wrought
    brazen urn,

    Thrice on the dead she poured a lustral stream.
  23. deem

    judge or regard in a particular way
    Take it all in all, I

    A man's first duty is to serve himself.
  24. immutable

    not subject or susceptible to change or variation
    Nor did I deem that thou, a mortal man,

    Could'st by a breath annul and override

    immutable unwritten laws of Heaven.
  25. insolence

    an offensive disrespectful impudent act
    But this proud girl, in
    insolence well-schooled,

    First overstepped the established law, and then—

    A second and worse act of

    She boasts and glories in her wickedness.
  26. abjure

    formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief
    Say, didst thou too abet

    This crime, or dost
    abjure all privity?
  27. piety

    righteousness by virtue of being religiously devout
    O sister, scorn me not, let me but share

    Thy work of
    piety, and with thee die.
  28. bereft

    sorrowful through loss or deprivation
    What would life profit me
    bereft of thee?
  29. quell

    overcome or allay
    Thy might, O Zeus, what mortal power can

    Not sleep that lays all else beneath its spell,

    Nor moons that never tire
  30. sublime

    worthy of adoration or reverence
    ...untouched by Time,

    Throned in the dazzling light

    That crowns Olympus' height,

    Thou reignest King, omnipotent,
  31. submissive

    inclined or willing to give in to orders or wishes of others
    For 'tis the hope of parents they may rear

    A brood of sons
    submissive, keen to avenge

    Their father's wrongs, and count his friends their own.
  32. dissipate

    cause to separate and go in different directions
    What evils are not wrought by Anarchy!

    She ruins States, and overthrows the home,

    dissipates and routs the embattled host;

    While discipline preserves the ordered ranks.
  33. covet

    wish, long, or crave for
    O father, nothing is by me more prized

    Than thy well-being, for what higher good

    Can children
    covet than their sire's fair fame
  34. prudence

    discretion in practical affairs
    What, would you have us at our age be schooled,

    Lessoned in
    prudence by a beardless boy?
  35. consort

    keep company with
    Think not that in my sight the maid shall die,

    Or by my side; never shalt thou again

    Behold my face hereafter. Go,

    With friends who like a madman for their mate.
  36. bane

    something causing misery or death
    Mark ye the cruel laws that now have wrought my
  37. heinous

    extremely wicked or deeply criminal
    Thus by the law of conscience I was led

    To honor thee, dear brother, and was judged

    By Creon guilty of a
    heinous crime.
  38. succor

    assistance in time of difficulty
    What ordinance of heaven have I transgressed?

    Hereafter can I look to any god

    succor, call on any man for help?
  39. puissant

    My fatherland, city of Thebes divine,

    Ye gods of Thebes whence sprang my line,

    puissant lords of Thebes, on me;

    The last of all your royal house ye see.
  40. presentiment

    a feeling of evil to come
    Thy words inspire a dread
  41. augury

    an event indicating important things to come
    Sitting upon my throne of

    As is my wont, where every fowl of heaven

    Find harborage, upon mine ears was borne

    A jargon strange of twitterings, hoots, and screams
  42. abominate

    find repugnant
    Therefore the angry gods

    Our litanies and our burnt offerings
  43. obstinate

    stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing
    To err is common

    To all men, but the man who having erred

    Hugs not his errors, but repents and seeks

    The cure, is not a wastrel nor unwise.

    No fool, the saw goes, like the
    obstinate fool.
  44. usurp

    seize and take control without authority
    For that thou hast entombed a living soul,

    And sent below a denizen of earth,

    And wronged the nether gods by leaving here

    A corpse unlaved, unwept, unsepulchered.

    Herein thou hast no part, nor e'en the gods

    In heaven; and thou
    usurp'st a power not thine.
  45. impenitent

    impervious to moral persuasion
    Vengeance of the gods

    Is swift to overtake the
  46. contrite

    feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
    We offered first a prayer

    To Pluto and the goddess of cross-ways,

    contrite hearts, to deprecate their ire.
  47. supplicate

    ask for humbly or earnestly, as in prayer
    When the King saw him, with a terrible groan

    He moved towards him, crying, "O my son

    What hast thou done? What ailed thee? What mischance

    Has reft thee of thy reason? O come forth,

    Come forth, my son; thy father
  48. discreet

    marked by prudence or modesty and wise self-restraint
    'Tis that she shrinks in public to lament

    Her son's sad ending, and in privacy

    Would with her maidens mourn a private loss.

    Trust me, she is
    discreet and will not err.
  49. tumult

    violent agitation
    Well, let us to the house and solve our doubts,

    Whether the
    tumult of her heart conceals

    Some fell design.
  50. chastisement

    a rebuke for making a mistake
    Swelling words of high-flown might

    Mightily the gods do smite.

    Chastisement for errors past

    Wisdom brings to age at last.
Created on May 29, 2013
(updated August 16, 2018)

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