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Sophocles: Antigone
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There is much that's wondrous, much that awakens dread --
Nothing more so than the human, Sophocles says,
In the best description of us ever made
:
This creature crosses the gray sea in the winter
With the storm-winds, making his way along
In the troughs of the billows,
And of all goddesses the one greatest, Earth
The undying, the tireless -- he wears her down
With his plowing back and forth, year after year.
The light-witted race of the birds he takes,
And the tribes of the wild beasts, and the swimmers
Through sea-deeps, in the meshy folds of his nets,
This busy-thinking human.
With his tactics he masters the fi eld-dwellers,
And the hill-ranging animals; shaggy-maned
Horses he reins in, he yokes the necks
Of the powerful bulls he brings down from the mountains.
And speech, and wind-quick thought, and living
In a city together, he taught himself, and how to avoid
The bolts of storms, and having to sleep out
In cold clear weather. He is all inventiveness.
Never does he go bereft of means into
The future. Death alone he cannot contrive to elude; though
From hopeless diseases he has found escapes.
Cleverness surpassing all hopes he possesses
In his plans and devices; by which sometimes to evil
Sometimes to excellence he creeps. Honoring