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The events are self-evident; the messenger's report is plain to see. Twofold is our distress—double disaster [850] of kindred murder, this double suffering has come to fulfillment. What shall I say? What else indeed than that sorrow born of sorrows surround this house's hearth?

But sail upon the wind of lamentation, my friends, [855] and about your head row with your hands' rapid stroke in conveyance of the dead,1 that stroke which always causes the sacred slack-sailed, black-clothed ship to pass over Acheron to the unseen land where Apollo does not walk, [860] the sunless land that receives all men.

But here come Antigone and Ismene to do their bitter duty, the dirge over their brothers both. With all sincerity, I think, will they [865] pour forth their fitting grief from their lovely, deep-bosomed breasts. But it is right for us, before their singing, to cry out the awful hymn of the Erinys and thereafter [870] sing the hated victory song of Hades.

Ah, sisters most unfortunate in your kin of all women who clasp their girdle about their robes, I weep, I groan, and there is no feigning in the shrill cries that come straight from my heart.

1 As the souls of the brothers are now being conveyed across Acheron in Charon's boat, the Chorus in imagination aid their passage by the ritual of mourning. Their song of lamentation stands for the wind, the beating of their heads by their hands are the strokes of the oars. Contrasted with the grim vessel that transports all spirits to the sunless land of Hades, is the ship that goes to the festival at Delos, the “clearly-seen” island, the land of Apollo, god of light and health.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 1261-1347
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