Greek Interpretation of Human Beings [126-127]

namely, θηρᾶν, the pursuit of that against which nothing, essentially, is of any avail because it is that which is destined to us and is fitting. Just as with the word τἀμήχανα, we would fail to recognize this line's relations to the concealed truth of the entire poetic work if we were to overlook the fact that in the first antistrophe of the choral ode there is specific mention of θηρᾶν, of pursuit. The word of Ismene is filled with the resonance of what is essential in the entire poetic work. Yet the artistic and poetic status of this line does not merely lie in its content and in the construction appropriate to this, but also in the fact that by this word Ismene indirectly pronounces the essence of Antigone, that is, in such a way that Antigone, in countering, affirms that which her sister has rejected:

εἰ ταῦτα λέξεις, ἐχθαρεῖ μὲν ἐξ ἐμοῦ,
ἐχθρὰ δὲ τῷ θανόντι προσκείσει δίκῃ.

Wenn dies du sagst, im Haß stehst du, der mir entstammt,
im Haß auch trittst entgegen du dem Toten, wie sich's schickt.

If you say this, in hatred you stand, arising from me,
and the hatred of he who is dead will come to meet you, as is fitting.

Antigone thereby takes this upon herself into her ownmost essence, namely, to pursue that against which nothing can avail as the point of departure governing everything. Were Ismene's word merely to present the commonplace view concerning what is best, namely that one should not want something impossible, then we would be unable to perceive why insisting upon a piece of sound advice should awaken her sister's hatred. indeed even the hatred of her dead brother. Furthermore, we would be underestimating the figure of Antigone were we to suppose that Ismene had no intimation whatsoever of what her sister has decided to do, that Ismene, in modern terms, played the role of someone naive who had no intimation. What is to be decided is clear to both of them, though in different kinds of knowing.

a) The essence of Antigone—the supreme uncanny. παθεῖν τὸ δεινόν

Antigone knows that no one can take her decision away from her and that she will not flinch in her resolve. Thus she says, passing directly from her harsh words to a gentle tone:

—ἀλλ᾽ ἔα με καὶ τὴν ἐξ ἐμοῦ δυσβουλίαν

Doch überlaß dies mir und jenem, was aus mir Gefährlich-Schweres rät.

Yet leave this to me, and to that within me that counsels the dangerous and difficult.