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Antigone Sophocles

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Antigone

by Sophocles

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Episode 1

(Enter Creon)

Here arrives our Commander and chief, King Creon, son of Menoceus.
The compass contains all directions, but feet go in only one. What is Creon's destiny?
He calls the crowds to cease celebration and assemble for his proclamation.

Creon

Citizens, our nation was shaken by the recent storm of war. Now we are secure again. Those assembled are those who understand, who are loyal, respecting the authority of the state. Elders who uphold our heritage, the foundation of free enterprise.

Even Oedipus who both raised our clan and shattered our bloodlines upheld the authority of the state. Now his sons have perished, entwined in mutual destruction. Once again we see the demonstration of the power of prophecy. The three fates weave the lines of destiny. Defilement of the sacred taboo of blood brings destruction as sure as fouling the waters of the nation brings agricultural disaster.

I stand here. Untainted by my cousin's transgression. A strong and noble branch of our family assuming the throne of Laius.

Who knows the mettle of a man till he is tested by the challenge of leadership.

Spirit steps forth in flesh and metes out judgment according to the law of the land.

I believe as I assume the seat of power that it is my duty to give and take noble counsel and stand in strength to speak loudly those words that are essential to our salvation. Who values a counselor that does not speak up with simple truths?

Cowards stay silent. Even when to speak, would bring honor. Why? They are silent because of fear. Fear of consequences stills the tongue when it is most important to speak.

Those who cling to their clan, or who prize political victory over the well-being of the nation are not worthy of citizenship. The wealthy who do not pay their share to support the daily toil, the poor who complain instead of putting their shoulder to the plough, merchants who sell substandard goods to profit at expense of the people, the traders who steal the margin of enterprise to profit through its liquidation, these are the bane of our nation.

Those who tend to the garden of the nation are planting the positive seeds of the future.

Those who sow seeds of discord in hopes of reaping political reward are not worthy to lead the nation.

The ship of the nation is guarded by those who are willing to lift the bucket and bail.

Those who do not toil cannot value the fertile soil. This is the nature of humanity.

Great leadership is not found in shirking responsibility or shrinking from the necessary decisions for the good of the people. I invoke the Gods, knowing they are all seeing and all knowing. We have been shielded from disaster and thus today we celebrate victory.

I pledge to nourish my nation and thus I make this proclamation concerning the progeny of Oedipus: Eteocles fought for the people, a valiant warrior who died a hero. Thus he shall be honored with the sacred rites of the dead and buried in a tomb befitting his status.

On the other hand, the turncoat Polynices, put personal profit before the people returning from exile seeking to loot our dwellings and pillage our property. He sought to enslave his kin and rob his clan. This is an abomination. A wealthy scion of the royal family turning upon his nation. He shall receive no honors, no mourning, no lamentation. His flesh is to be regarded as the food for crows and wild dogs.

This is my decree! We do not honor traitors, we honor heroes.

Chorus

Your command is the law, Creon, son of Menoceus.

It is wise to temper judgment with compassion.

But who can be compassionate toward criminals or traitors.

The ancient law is an eye for an eye!

Even the dead understand the prerogative of a king.

Creon

Then keep my commands and cherish my demands.

Chorus

Indoctrinate the youth to obey the Gods of the land, thus the king's commands.

Creon

Watch must be kept over the corpse of the traitor to insure his humiliation.

Chorus

What other commands do you have for us?

Creon

Be as bald eagles, perched above, eyes open, watch for dissent, keep ears attentive to listen for subversive words. report those who are disorderly and threaten our nation.

Chorus

Only fools love death and as this is our penalty for traitors, we will watch and wait to mete out this fate. We are geriatric thus orderly and able to confirm the ancient rights.

Creon

Greed drives the grand old partier to seek more, and more. Even at the expense of their nation, our nation. It is unpatriotic to put profit ahead of the people or ahead of the well being of the land. Traitors shall not be tolerated.

(Enter the Watchman)

Watchman

My king. The barbarians to the west say "Ne Nuntium Necare", which means do not kill the messenger. I came as fast as my feet could carry me, but my thoughts flew before me, finding this place before I arrived. Then faster than the wind, my thoughts returned to me, encircled me with a thousand fears, for I am not a great man like you my lord. I must work for my meals, and I have never known a seat that I could call my own much less a mansion, or a throne. Yet, I summoned up my faith. Knowing that the Gods are present everywhere, I took courage.

In turning my thoughts around, I looked down and found my feet had arrived at this square. Inspired by Nike, I had victory over my fears.

Creon

Why would you fear anything at all? Speak your truth!

Watchman

I felt it was best to be the first to tell you. To unveil what has happened, but having seen the fate of the bearers of bad tidings before, I thought perhaps the fruit ...

Creon

What is the use in talking in circles? Come to the point.

Watchman

Danger makes the heart beat faster. Anger begets actions rooted in cruelty, and I ...

Creon

Eye! Eye! I look to the delivery, now speak, then be gone.

Watchman

My lord, the corpse of Polynices, who for personal profit did betray his people, has been given ritual burial.

Creon

What!?

Watchman

With stealth befitting such a deed, someone bathed the corpse, covered it in sacred ochre and a layer of dry soil. Obvious signs that they performed the Sacred Rites so that his spirit could take flight. His soul journey has begun.

Creon

Who? What man would risk death and dishonor?

Watchman

When the first watchman called us to the scene. It was as if pure spirit had moved and accomplished all without effort.

Creon

Nonsense!

Watchman

At first we thought the body had been taken, but there were no marks upon the ground, no signs of wheels or even footprints. No, trace of shovel or pick. Then as we drew closer, we found the corpse had been covered with a layer of soil. The body was undisturbed, as if blessed by the Gods. No crow had descended to pluck the eyes from the sockets. The body is intact.

At this point, blame passed between the guards, words bringing us to blows, yet none of the Watch confessed this deed and it was clear no one was guilty of this act.

We then drew lots to decide who would bring you this account. It was my unlucky lot that condemned me to be the messenger bearing bad news.

Chorus

Words echo in our minds.
Pure spirit is not bound by space or time.
If this deed has been blessed by the Gods,
Who are we to say it is naught.

Creon

Enough! Words such as these simply exacerbate the wound. What fool would risk the anger of a prince for the sake of a corpse? Why would the Gods of our Nation spend any energy to protect a traitor?

We can see that the wealthy are blessed by the size of our mansions. The wealthy are taller, and stronger so they need more and better food.

Contrast the wealthy with the poor, who live in hovels and need little food. It can easily be seen that the poor are cursed. Is this because of their past lives? Or because of dissolute lives today? Who knows. Perhaps the people of the east are right, it is karma.

It is obvious which temples house the greatest Gods. The most beautiful temples, with large holdings of land and rich offerings these are the temples that are blessed.

Do we see the blessings of the Gods on the brow of the laborer or the slave?

No. We see the Gods reflected in the glimmer of golden goblets, and the beauty of finery.

Our Gods are not going to descend from Mount Olympus to care for the corpse of a traitor. The Gods are Good and thus they honor what is good, and we know what is good. Traitors are not good regardless of their excuses.

No. This is not the work of the Gods. This is the work of whispers in the shadows. The work of those who defy my right to the throne.

Such are the men who live in poverty consciousness, not respecting the Golden Rule: "He who has the Gold, makes the rules. Those who have no gold are simply fools."

Work, work is the key to financial freedom. -- note

Coin is the root of corruption. Silver pieces placed in the hand of weak minds bends them every time. Every person has a price, yet can be brought to heel by what is right. --note

(Creon turns to the Watchman)

I know that the Gods are always present in form and thought, thus I speak my word on this.

You. Yes, you, are charged to discover the man who did this deed. You will go forth and reveal the truth, or find yourself wishing for the sleep of death until you unfold your deepest secrets with your final breath.

Watchman

I ... your grace ...

Creon

Words ... words create little worlds within the mind. It is best to be conscious of their effects.

Watchman

I did not seek to harm, only to inform.

Creon

Form, in form, out of form, proper form, etiquette, propriety, impropriety, do you not see the effect of your communication.

Watchman

My words have caused pain. Perhaps they wound the ear, or perhaps the soul, I do not know, I ...

Creon

Eye? Open your eyes and see. Use your ears to hear. Would you presume to hurt your betters?

Watchman

I presume nothing your grace. I just ...

Creon

Blather. Blither. Tweet. Tweet. Like a bird whose song grows tiresome.

Watchman

Your grace, I did not do this deed.

Creon

How can I be sure? Are you not poor? Is it not true that poverty breeds needs and thus you can be easily bought. How can I be sure that you were not?

Watchman

I simply ask for grace from your grace.

Creon

"Grace from your grace." How clever. You'd best put your brilliant brain to work before that mind has no head to contain it.

(Exit Creon)

Watchman

It was my lot that brought me to this meeting. My colleagues informed me that my doom was sure, yet here I stand. It was my belief that I would live beyond this day thus I shall, for the Gods favor those who are willing to meet their destiny with open mind and heart.

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