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Volume 19, 1886
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– 504 –

Art. LXVI.—Notes on Antigone, 2–6.

[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 5th August, 1886.]


(1.)ῶ κΌνὸ;ν αὐάδελøoν ⌈σμήνζ03C2 καρά

ᾶρ ΌἶσΘ' ὅ τι Zεὺσ τῶν ᾶπ ∮ἰδίπΌυ καρῶν

ὅπ'ΌίΌν Όὐχὶ νῶν ἐτὶ ζωσᾶιν τελεί

ὀνδὲν γαρ ὀυπ' ἀλγεινὸν ὀυπ' ἄτζσ ἄτερ

Όὔτ' ἀισχρὸν Όὔπ' ἄτιμΌν ἐσΘ' ὅπΌίΌν Όὐ

τῶν σῶν τε κἀμων Όὐκ ὄπωπ' ἐγὼ κακῶν

Lines 2–3: ὄ τι–ὅπΌίΌν. If there were ὄ τι without ὅπΌίΌν, or ὅπὅιΌν without ὅ τι, the passage would be quite easy. Several solutions have been proposed of the difficulty,—

α. That it is simply a double interrogation, i.e., “What evil of what sort?” cf. line 1341, ὀυδ' ἔχω ὅπα πὸσ πότερΌν ἴδω.

β. That we should read ὄτι, and that there is a mixture of two constructions, such as—


[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

ΌἶσΘ' ὅτι Zεὺσ { πἀν πὅιΌν ὀυ } κακὸν τελεῖ


ΌἶσΘα Zεὺσ ὅπΌῖΌν Όὐ κακὸν τελεῖ

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Or, γ. That the oblique form ὅπΌῖΌτ comes quite naturally after the verb ΌῖσΘα, the ὅτι being redundant, cf. O.T., 1401,—

ἆρα μΌυ μέμνζσΘ ὅτι
Όἷ ἕργα δρᾶσα03C2 ὐμῖν εἶτα δεῦῤ ἰων
ὅπὅἰ ἔπρασσΌν ἆυΘι03C2

It has occurred to me that it might perhaps be translated as it stands with ὅτ in two other ways, each of which involves an ellipse of τεγεῖ—


Do you know what evil inherited from œdipus Zeus will bring to pass, and what he will not bring to pass, in the lifetime of us twain? ἆρ ΌἶσΘα ὅ τι Zεὺ03C2 (τελεῖ) τῶν ἅπ' ∮ἰδίπΌυ κακὼν, ὅπΌῖΌν ὀυχι—τελῶἶ, i.e.: Do you know the exact sum of our sorrows? a style of expression that is not at all unusual in Greek.


Do you know what evil inherited from œdipus Zeus will bring to pass that he will not bring to pass in our lifetime? (In this case it might be better to take τελε~ι as present rather than future.)

The latter interpretation seems, perhaps, to suit the context best, since, from the repetition below of the same phrase, ὅπΌῖΌνΌὐ with τῶν σῶν τε κἀμων κακῶν, the pith of Antigone's complaint seems to be that she and her sister had an unfairly large share of this evil inheritance.

Lines 4–5. ἀλγεινὸ, ἀισχρὸν ἄτιμΌν are all words which certainly do not exclude, if they do not actually include, the conception of ἄτζ; whereas with them we find coupled the phrase ἄτζ03C2 ἄτερ, which expressly excludes ἄτζ; and yet all have but one verbal phrase Όὐκ ὄπωπα, so that the passage seems to mean “there is nothing baneful and nothing baneless,” etc., “that I have not seen.” No satisfactory reading has been suggested that I know of instead of ἄτζ03C2 ἄτερ. As all the MSS. have this reading, it is worth while to try and make something out of it. The following interpretations have been suggested:—

(1.) By Seidler, who takes ἄτζ03C2 ἄτερ to signify “without blame” or “guilt”—i.e., undeserved; and the following Όὔτε—ἄυτε to signify ἤ—ἤ, cf. line 1157.

If ἄτζ can be taken in this sense, it seems simple enough; and γὰρ would then be taken as explaining the phrase Tωνἀπ' ∮ἰδίπΌυ κακῶν, while ὀυκ simply duplicates the former negative ὀυ.

(2.) By Hermann, who suggests taking ἐσΘ' ἄπõιΌν ὀυ with ἄτζ03C2 ἄτερ, “For neither what is painful nor what is not free from bane (i.e., what is mixed with bane), be it base or dishonourable, have I failed to see.”

ἀισχρὸν and ἄτιμΌν are thus taken parenthetically, as subdivisions of ἄτζ.

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The construction becomes clearer if we neglect the parenthesis, and read: ὀυδὲν γαρ, ὀυτ' ἀλγεινόν, Όὐτ ἄτζ03C2 ἄτερ ἐσΘ ὁπõιΌνὀυ, Όὐκ ἄπωπα, “For nothing, neither what is painful nor free from bane what is not, have I failed to see”—i.e., I have seen all kinds of misfortune. The well-known use of ὀυδὲι03C2 ἅστι03C2 ὀυ might be adduced as a parallel for this construction, and is so brought forward in Dr. Jelf's Greek Grammar.

All reverence is due to the mighty name of Hermann. There were giants in scholarship in those days; and, if we ever do see farther than they do, it may be that we are after all dwarfs mounted on the shoulders of giants. With all respect then, be it said, that even when thus ingeniously elucidated, the fact remains that Sophocles has chosen a very awkward way of saying what he meant, by writing ὄυτε ὄτζ03C2 ἐσΘ' ὁπõιΌν ὀυ where, according to the general usage of similar phrases, the ὀυ would be expected to negative ἄπõπα and not ἄτζ03C2 ἄτερ; and this when there seems nothing to be gained by it, and in the beginning of a play, too, where such a difficult collocation of words might be more than usually displeasing.

Is it impossible for ἄτζ03C2 ἄτερ to mean, “besides the curse that rests upon us,” (in addition to it), like the Latin “ut omittam,” referring to τῶν ἀπ' ∮ἰδίπΌυ κακῶν. Lines 2–6 might then be translated:—

“Do you know what evil that we inherit from œdipus, aye and what evil we do not inherit, Zeus will fulfil in the lifetime of us twain; for there is nothing, neither what is painful, nor—to say naught of the curse that rests upon us—is there aught of private disgrace or public infamy, that I have not seen in the number of thy woes and mine?”

The word Όὐχι is thus taken to negative τῶν ἀπ' ∮ἰδὰπΌυ κακῶν; and the sense is, “Do you know what misery Zeus is going to spare us, for I know of none—whether inherited from œdipus as a curse, or not—that we have not suffered?” I may remark that ὀυχι in the “Iliad” (Όὐκί) is, I think, invariably used as above—i.e., as the last word in the negative clause of an alternative; e.g., ὅ03C2 τ' ἄιτιΌ03C2, ὅ03C2 τε καὶ Όὐκί, and still oftener ἠὲ καὶ Όυκί, at the end of a line. It is also used in the same way in two out of three places where I have noted it in æschylus. I have not been able to compare other passages in Sophocles or Euripides.

I have not been able to find a similar use of ἄτερ, but there is a similar use of the word χῶρι03C2 in Hdt., i., 93, also “Medea,” 297, and æsch., Sep. c. Th., 25, πυρὸ03C2 δίχα, where δόχα seems to bear the same meaning, according to Hermann himself.