Haimon from Antigone by Sophocles

    Haimon from Antigone by Sophocles

    Classical Greek -Men

    Haimon: (sc. 3)

    Reason is God’s crowning gift to man, and you are right
    To warn me against losing mine. I cannot say–
    I hope that I shall never want to say!–that you
    Have reasoned badly. Yet there are other men
    Who can reason, too; and their opinions might be helpful.
    You are not in a position to know everything
    That people say or do, or what they feel:
    Your temper terrifies–everyone
    Will tell you only what you like to hear.
    But I, at any rate, can listen; and I have heard them
    Muttering and whispering in the dark about this girl.
    They say no woman has ever, so unreasonably,
    Died so shameful a death for a generous act:
    “She covered her brother’s body. Is this indecent?
    She kept him from dogs and vultures. Is this a crime?
    Death?–She should have all the honour that we can give her!”

    This is the way they talk out there in the city.
    You must believe me:
    Nothing is closer to me than your happiness.
    What could be closer? Must not any son
    Value his father’s fortune as his father does his?
    I beg you, do not be unchangeable:
    Do not believe that you alone can be right.
    The man who thinks that,
    The man that maintains that he has the power
    To reason correctly, the gift to speak, the soul–
    A man like that, when you know him, turns out empty.
    It is not reason never to yield to reason!

    In flood time you can see how some trees bend,
    And because they bend, even their twigs are safe,
    While stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all.
    Forget you are angry! Let yourself be moved!
    I know I am young; but please let me say this:
    The ideal condition
    Would be, I admit, that men should be right by instinct;
    But since we are all too likely to go astray,
    The reasonable thing is to learn from those who can teach.