Myths and Legends of All Nations Famous Stories from the Greek, German, English, Spanish, Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources

Page: 71

"Such stubborn thoughts have a speedy fall and are shivered even as the iron that hath been made hard in the furnace. And as for this woman and her sister—for I judge her sister to have had a part in this matter—though they were nearer to me than all my kindred, yet shall they not escape the doom of death. Wherefore let some one bring the other woman hither."

And while they went to fetch the maiden Ismené, Antigone said to the king:

"Is it not enough for thee to slay me? What need to say more? For thy words please me not, nor mine thee. Yet what nobler thing could I have done than to bury my mother's son? And so would all men say, but fear shutteth their mouths."

"Nay," said the king, "none of the children of Cadmus thinketh thus, but thou only. But, hold, was not he that fell in battle with this man thy brother also?"

"Yes, truly, my brother he was."

"And dost thou not dishonor him when thou honorest his enemy?"

"The dead man would not say it, could he speak."

"Shall then the wicked have like honor with the good?"

"How knowest thou but that such honor pleaseth the gods below?"

"I have no love for them I hate, though they be dead."

"Of hating I know nothing; 'tis enough for me to love."

"If thou wilt love, go love the dead. But while I live no woman shall rule me."

[Pg 126] Then those that had been sent to fetch the maiden Ismené brought her forth from the palace. And when the king accused her that she had been privy to the deed she denied not, but would have shared one lot with her sister.

But Antigone turned from her, saying:

"Not so; thou hast no part or lot in the matter. For thou hast chosen life and I have chosen death; and even so shall it be."

And when Ismené saw that she prevailed nothing with her sister, she turned to the king and said:

"Wilt thou slay the bride of thy son?"

"Ay," said he, "there are other brides to win!"

"But none," she made reply, "that accord so well with him."

"I will have no evil wives for my sons," said the king.

Then cried Antigone:

"O Hæmon, whom I love, how thy father wrongeth thee!"

Then the king bade the guards lead the two into the palace. But scarcely had they gone when there came to the place the Prince Hæmon, the king's son, who was betrothed to the maiden Antigone. And when the king saw him, he said:

"Art thou content, my son, with thy father's judgment?"

And the young man answered:

"My father, I would follow thy counsels in all things."

Then said the king:

"'Tis well spoken, my son. This is a thing to be desired, that a man should have obedient children. But if it be otherwise with a man, he hath gotten great trouble for himself and maketh sport for them that hate him. And now as to this matter. There is naught worse than an evil wife. Wherefore I say let this damsel wed a bridegroom among the dead. For since I have found her, alone of all this people, breaking my decree, surely she shall die. Nor shall it profit her to claim[Pg 127] kinship with me, for he that would rule a city must first deal justly with his own kindred. And as for obedience, this it is that maketh a city to stand both in peace and in war."