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750-757

Objections have been made to the traditional order of these verses, chiefly in two respects. (1) 755 “εἰ μὴ πατὴρ ἦσθ᾽” is—it is argued—the strongest thing said by Haemon, and ought therefore to come immediately before Creon's final outburst, “ἄληθες”; (758). How could it be followed by merely so mild a phrase as “μὴ κώτιλλέ με”?—We may reply:— Haemon says that, if Creon were not his father, he would have thought him mad. It is to this that “μὴ κώτιλλέ με” refers, meaning, ‘Do not seek to deceive me by an affectation of filial deference.’ (2) 757 “βούλει λέγειν τι” is too mild a remark—it is said—to form the climax of provocation to Creon's anger. We may reply:—It is in substance, if not in form, such a climax, —for a father who holds that unquestioning obedience (640) is a son's first duty. It asserts Haemon's right to maintain his own views against his father's,—“διὰ δίκης ἰέναι”, as Creon put it (742). The traditional order seems, therefore, to be right.

Three modes of transposition have been proposed. (1) Enger puts 756 and 757 after 749. Then “κώτιλλε” (756) refers to Haemon's plea that he has his father's cause, and that of religion, at heart. We lose nothing by such a transposition; but neither do we gain.

(2) Donner (in his transl., ed. 1863) simply transposed verses 755 and 757, leaving the rest as they stand. For this it may fairly be said that 757 comes very fitly after 754. On the other hand it seems to me that 756 does not aptly follow 757.

(3) Pallis arranges thus:—749, 756, 755, 754, 757, 750—753. Thus “κενὰς γνώμας” (753) becomes the last sting.— The fact is that, in a stormy altercation, we do not look for a closely logical texture and a delicately graduated crescendo. The MS. order is (to my mind) the best; but other arrangements are possible, and would be nearly as good.

Creon, instead of replying to v. 749, abruptly repeats his resolve. “οὐκ ἔστιν ὡς ταύτην ἔτι ζῶσαν γαμεῖς” (fut.) “ποτέ”, it cannot be that you shall ever wed her while she yet lives; i.e. she is to die at once, and can become your bride, if ever, only “ἐν Ἅιδου” (654). Cp. 1240.— ὡς for the more usual “ὅπως”: so Ph. 196οὐκ ἔσθ᾽ ὡς οὐ”.—The strange place of ποτέ is explained by the strong emphasis on ταύτην (‘her, at any time, it is impossible that thou shouldest wed’). Soph. often admits bold arrangements of words (cp. O. T. 1245, 1251: O. C. 1428).


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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 1240
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1428
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1245
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 196
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