[Enter blind Teiresias, led by a boy. The opening speeches of Teiresias should be in singsong contrast to the realistic lines of Creon.]
Teiresias: This is the way the blind man comes,
Lock-step, two heads lit by the eyes of one.
Creon: What new thing have you to tell us, old Teiresias?
Teiresias: I have much to tell you: listen to the prophet, Creon.
Creon: I am not aware that I have ever failed to listen. line number 5
Teiresias: Then you have done wisely, King, and ruled well.
Creon: I admit my debt to you. But what have you to say?
Teiresias: This, Creon: you stand once more on the edge
Creon: What do you mean? Your words are a kind of dread.
Teiresias: Listen, Creon: line number 10
I was sitting in my chair of augury, at the place
Where the birds gather about me. They were all a-chatter,
As is their habit, when suddenly I heard
A strange note in their jangling, a scream, a
Whirring fury; I knew that they were fighting, line number 15
Tearing each other, dying
In a whirlwind of wings clashing. And I was afraid.
I began the rites of burnt offering at the altar,
But Hephaestos failed me: instead of bright flame,
There was only the sputtering slime of the fat thigh flesh line number 20
Melting: the entrails dissolved in gray smoke,
The bare bone burst from the welter. And no blaze!
This was a sign from heaven. My boy described it,
Seeing for me as I see for others.
I tell you, Creon, you yourself have brought line number 25
This new calamity upon us. Our hearths and altars
Are stained with the corruption of dogs and carrion birds
That glut themselves on the corpse of Oedipus’ son.
The gods are deaf when we pray to them, their fire
Recoils from our offering, their birds of omen line number 30
Have no cry of comfort, for they are gorged
With the thick blood of the dead.
O my son,
These are no trifles! Think: all men make mistakes,
But a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, line number 35
And repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.
Give in to the dead man, then: do not fight with a corpse—
What glory is it to kill a man who is dead?
Think, I beg you:
It is for your own good that I speak as I do. line number 40
You should be able to yield for your own good.
Creon: It seems that prophets have made me their
All my life long
I have been a kind of butt for the dull arrows
Of doddering fortune tellers! line number 45
If your birds—if the great eagles of God himself
Should carry him stinking bit by bit to heaven,
I would not yield. I am not afraid of pollution:
No man can defile the gods. line number 50
Do what you will,
Go into business, make money, speculate
In India gold or that synthetic gold from Sardis,
Get rich otherwise than by my consent to bury him.
Teiresias, it is a sorry thing when a wise man line number 55
Sells his wisdom, lets out his words for hire!
Teiresias: Ah Creon! Is there no man left in the world—
Creon: To do what?—Come, let’s have the aphorism!
Teiresias: No man who knows that wisdom outweighs
Creon: As surely as bribes are baser than any baseness. line number 60
Teiresias: You are sick, Creon! You are deathly sick!
Creon: As you say: it is not my place to challenge a prophet.
Teiresias: Yet you have said my prophecy is for sale.
Creon: The generation of prophets has always loved gold.
Teiresias: The generation of kings has always loved brass. line number 65
Creon: You forget yourself! You are speaking to your King.
Teiresias: I know it. You are a king because of me.
Creon: You have a certain skill; but you have sold out.
Teiresias: King, you will drive me to words that—
Creon: Say them, say them! line number 70
Only remember: I will not pay you for them.
Teiresias: No, you will find them too costly.
Creon: No doubt. Speak:
Whatever you say, you will not change my will.
Teiresias: Then take this, and take it to heart! line number 75
The time is not far off when you shall pay back
Corpse for corpse, flesh of your own flesh.
You have thrust the child of this world into living night,
You have kept from the gods below the child that is theirs:
The one in a grave before her death, the other, line number 80
Dead, denied the grave. This is your crime:
And the Furies and the dark gods of Hell
Are swift with terrible punishment for you.
Do you want to buy me now, Creon? Not many days,
And your house will be full of men and women weeping, line number 85
And curses will be hurled at you from far
Cities grieving for sons unburied, left to rot
Before the walls of Thebes.
These are my arrows, Creon: they are all for you.
But come, child: lead me home. [To Boy] line number 90
Let him waste his fine anger upon younger men.
Maybe he will learn at last
To control a wiser tongue in a better head. [Exit Teiresias.]
Choragos: The old man has gone, King, but his words
Remain to plague us. I am old, too, line number 95
But I cannot remember that he was ever false.
Creon: That is true . . . . It troubles me.
Oh it is hard to give in! but it is worse
To risk everything for stubborn pride.
Choragos: Creon: take my advice. line number 100
Creon: What shall I do?
Choragos: Go quickly: free Antigone from her vault
And build a tomb for the body of Polyneices.
Creon: You would have me do this?
Choragos: Creon, yes! line number 105
And it must be done at once: God moves
Swiftly to cancel the folly of stubborn men.
Creon: It is hard to deny the heart! But I
Will do it: I will not fight with destiny.
Choragos: You must go yourself, you cannot leave it line number 110
Creon: I will go.
—Bring axes, servants:
Come with me to the tomb. I buried her, I
Will set her free.
Oh quickly! line number 115
My mind misgives—
The laws of the gods are mighty, and a man must serve them
To the last day of his life!