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1737 - 1750

In these verses the utterances usually assigned to Antigone all turn on her anxiety as to a refuge, and her desire to return to Thebes. Such feelings, at this moment, are more in harmony with the character of Ismene (cp. 1735). Antigone is at present absorbed in the yearning to visit her father's tomb, or at least the spot where she last saw him alive (1724). When Theseus appears, it is this wish which she instantly presses on him. Only when it has been put aside does she think of a return to Thebes (1769).

Ought we, then, to read “ΙΣ.” for “ΑΝ.” throughout vv. 1737—1750? This has been suggested by Bergk. I may observe that the Laur. MS. leaves the question open. At 1730 it has “ΑΝ.” before “τί τόδ᾽ ἐπέπληξας”. After that, there is no indication of any person, but only short lines (-), until at 1741 “ΑΝ.” again stands before “φρονῶ”. The next words, “τί δῆθ᾽” etc., have “ΧΟ.” before them: but after that no person is indicated till 1751, where “ΧΟ.” (instead of “ΘΗ.”) is erroneously placed before “παύετε”.

I am disposed to think that Sophocles wrote the words for Ismene, but that the fourth-actor difficulty had led to a fluctuation of stage-practice, which helps to account for the ambiguity of the MS. tradition. See the note on the Dramatis Personae. If the part of Ismene, after v. 509, was ever taken by a “κωφὸν πρόσωπον”, there may then have been a wish to keep her part in this scene as small as possible. Similarly at 1689 ff. there is a doubt as to which sister ought to have the words “οὐ κάτοιδα...βιωτός”.

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