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[247] for of course you are aware that, in all tragic dramas, it is the enviable privilege of third-rate actors to come on as tyrants, carrying their royal scepters. Now you shall weigh the merits of the verses which were specially written by the poet for the character of Creon-Aeschines, though he forgot to repeat them to himself in connection with his embassy, and did not quote them to the jury. Read.

Iambics from the Antigone of Sophocles Who shall appraise the spirit of a man,
His mind, his temper, till he hath been proved
In ministry of laws and government?
I hold, and long have held, that man a knave
Who, standing at the helm of state, deserts
The wisest counsel, or in craven fear
Of any, sets a curb upon his lips.
Who puts his friend above his fatherland
I scorn as nothing worth; and for myself,
Witness all-seeing Heaven! I will not hold
My peace when I descry the curse that comes
To sap my citizens' security;
Nor will I count as kin my country's foes;
For well I wot our country is the ship
That saves us all, sailing on even keel:
Embarked in her we fear no dearth of friends.

Soph. Ant. 175-190

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 187
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