From Antigone

Choral Song: “Hymn to Man”

Strophe (a)

Of all marvels, nothing is more marvelous than man!
Of all creatures he alone can sail across the wintry grey seas,
Challenging storms and surging waves to reach new lands.
Nor does he tire out working the imperishable, immortal Earth,
The oldest of goddesses, turning the soil, year after year,
With the offspring of horses yoked to the plow.

Antistrophe (a)

Man ensnares the light-winged race of birds,
And tames the tribes of wild beasts of nature,
Using woven coils of nets to bring the fishes of the sea home,
And by using traps, he catches the beasts of the mountains in their lairs: the horse with its shaggy mane, the bull with his power, he places both under the yoke. So full of invention is man.

Strophe (b)

He has taught himself the power of speech, and acquired
Lofty wisdom, the knowledge of laws and the rules of state,
And he learned how to protect himself against the blasts of winds
When cold comes in a clear night. And he knows how
To cover himself against the rushing rain,
Above all, he is wise in predicting the fortunes of the future,
And he has learned how to cure an illness.
Only death he knows he cannot escape.

Antistrophe (b)

All the arts he masters beyond expectations,
And he shows his genius for both good or for evil.
But in truth, when he upholds the laws of the land, and allows
Justice to prevail as set by the gods, his city prospers.
For no city can stand if rashness prevails and laws are broken.
Never would I accept a man who chooses this path.

From Antigone by Sophocles

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