‘Antigo Nick’ by Sophokles – A Spiky Irreverent Translation of the Ancient Greek Tragedy Antigone


‘Antigo Nick’ by Sophokles (441 BC) – 44 pages Translated by Anne Carson

This is not you grandma’s translation of Antigone.

Anne Carson does not approach this ancient drama with undue reverence. King Kreon arrives on the scene riding in his powerboat, his ship of state. The translation of the ancient play alludes to Samuel Becket, Berthold Brecht, Virginia Woolf and others. And the words of the play are turned into spiky even whimsical mostly unpuncuated modern prose.

but of course there is hope look here comes hope

wandering in

to tickle your feet

then you notice your soles are on fire

a wise word

if evil looks good to you

some god is heading you on the high road to ruin”

But I’ve learned to trust the Canadian Anne Carson.

Words bounce. Words, if you let them will do what they want to do and what they have to do.” – Anne Carson

Carson knows what she is doing, especially with these ancient plays. I have read a lot of her poems and other stuff, most of it unclassifiable and brilliant.

For someone who is just beginning to discover Anne Carson, I would recommend two of her works, ‘Autobiography in Red: A Novel in Verse’ and ‘The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos’.

I watched a performance of ‘Antigo Nick’ with Anne Carson playing the role of ‘Chorus’ on You Tube as well as read the play. ‘Antigo Nick’ is probably not the first place to begin to discover Anne Carson, but even with the translation’s quirkiness it captures the spirit of the play.

Here is the set-up of the play. The two brothers of Antigone and Ismenes have fought on opposite sides in the Thebes civil war and now both are dead. King Kreon has ruled that one brother Eteokles will be honored and given a full burial; the other brother Polyneikes will lie unburied on the battlefield and be prey to scavenging birds and worms. Antigone on her own decides to bury Polyneikes against the King’s wishes. The King finds out about it and decides that Antigone must be buried alive as punishment for her disobedience.

It’s Friday afternoon

there goes Antigone to be buried alive

is there

any way

we can say

this is normal



or even in the widest definition just

no not really

If I can convince even one person to investigate the work of Anne Carson, I will feel I have accomplished a great deal.

I write to find out what I think about something.” – Anne Carson

Not knowing what one is doing is no prohibition on doing it. We all grope ahead.” – Anne Carson


Grade: A-


2 responses to this post.

  1. I lone Anne Carson. But it is “your grandma’s translation, because she’s 68 years old (61 when it was published)! She’s a great poet.

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Kat,
      True, True. Anne Carson’s work really resonates with me. She is one of those all-around smart people which we don’t seem to have many of any more.



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