Antigone - Sophocles - Ancient Greece - Classical Literature
It deals with Antigone's burial of her brother Polynices (Polyneices), in defiance of the laws of Creon and the state, and the tragic repercussions of her act of civil. (Specifically notice the section titled "Relationships in Antigone") At the death of Ismene's brother Polynices, Antigone questions her own sister's heart by. The Antigone who is familiar from Sophocles, and from later interpretations, there is a disturbing quality to Antigone's relationship with her brother, Polyneices .
He understands that his own actions have caused these events and blames himself. A second messenger arrives to tell Creon and the chorus that Eurydice has killed herself.
With her last breath, she cursed her husband. Creon blames himself for everything that has happened, and, a broken man, he asks his servants to help him inside. The order he valued so much has been protected, and he is still the king, but he has acted against the gods and lost his children and his wife as a result. After Creon condemns himself, the leader of the chorus closes by saying that although the gods punish the proud, punishment brings wisdom.
Characters[ edit ] Antigonecompared to her beautiful and docile sister, is portrayed as a heroine who recognizes her familial duty. Her dialogues with Ismene reveal her to be as stubborn as her uncle. Ismene serves as a foil for Antigone, presenting the contrast in their respective responses to the royal decree.
She hesitates to bury Polyneices because she fears Creon. Creon is the current King of Thebes, who views law as the guarantor of personal happiness.
Antigone - Wikipedia
He can also be seen as a tragic hero, losing everything for upholding what he believed was right. Even when he is forced to amend his decree to please the gods, he first tends to the dead Polyneices before releasing Antigone. Haemon is the son of Creon and Eurydice, betrothed to Antigone. Proved to be more reasonable than Creon, he attempts to reason with his father for the sake of Antigone. However, when Creon refuses to listen to him, Haemon leaves angrily and shouts he will never see him again.
He commits suicide after finding Antigone dead. Koryphaios is the assistant to the King Creon and the leader of the Chorus. He is often interpreted as a close advisor to the King, and therefore a close family friend.
This role is highlighted in the end when Creon chooses to listen to Koryphaios' advice. Tiresias is the blind prophet whose prediction brings about the eventual proper burial of Polyneices. Portrayed as wise and full of reason, Tiresias attempts to warn Creon of his foolishness and tells him the gods are angry.
He manages to convince Creon, but is too late to save the impetuous Antigone. The Chorusa group of elderly Theban men, is at first deferential to the king. As the play progresses they counsel Creon to be more moderate.
Their pleading persuades Creon to spare Ismene. They also advise Creon to take Tiresias's advice. Historical context[ edit ] Antigone was written at a time of national fervor. In BC, shortly after the play was performed, Sophocles was appointed as one of the ten generals to lead a military expedition against Samos.
It is striking that a prominent play in a time of such imperialism contains little political propaganda, no impassioned apostropheand, with the exception of the epiklerate the right of the daughter to continue her dead father's lineage and arguments against anarchy, makes no contemporary allusion or passing reference to Athens.
It does, however, expose the dangers of the absolute ruler, or tyrant, in the person of Creon, a king to whom few will speak freely and openly their true opinions, and who therefore makes the grievous error of condemning Antigone, an act which he pitifully regrets in the play's final lines.
Athenians, proud of their democratic tradition, would have identified his error in the many lines of dialogue which emphasize that the people of Thebes believe he is wrong, but have no voice to tell him so.
Athenians would identify the folly of tyranny. Notable features[ edit ] The Chorus in Antigone departs significantly from the chorus in Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes, the play of which Antigone is a continuation. The chorus in Seven Against Thebes is largely supportive of Antigone's decision to bury her brother.
Here, the chorus is composed of old men who are largely unwilling to see civil disobedience in a positive light. The chorus also represents a typical difference in Sophocles' plays from those of both Aeschylus and Euripides. A chorus of Aeschylus' almost always continues or intensifies the moral nature of the play, while one of Euripides' frequently strays far from the main moral theme.
The chorus in Antigone lies somewhere in between; it remains within the general moral and the immediate scene, but allows itself to be carried away from the occasion or the initial reason for speaking. Should Polyneices, who committed a serious crime that threatened the city, be given burial rituals, or should his body be left unburied as prey for scavenging animals? Should someone who attempts to bury him in defiance of Creon be punished in an especially cruel and horrible way?
In this play, Creon is not presented as a monster, but as a leader who is doing what he considers right and justified by the state. The chorus is presented as a group of citizens who, though they may feel uneasy about the treatment of the corpse, respect Creon and what he is doing.
The chorus is sympathetic to Antigone only when she is led off to her death. The city is of primary importance to the chorus.
Antigone (Sophocles play) - Wikipedia
Most of the arguments to save her center on a debate over which course adheres best to strict justice. It is not until the interview with Tiresias that Creon transgresses and is guilty of sin. He had no divine intimation that his edict would be displeasing to the Gods and against their will. He is here warned that it is, but he defends it and insults the prophet of the Gods.
This is his sin, and it is this which leads to his punishment. The terrible calamities that overtake Creon are not the result of his exalting the law of the state over the unwritten and divine law which Antigone vindicates, but are his intemperance which led him to disregard the warnings of Tiresias until it was too late. This is emphasized by the Chorus in the lines that conclude the play. According to the legal practice of classical Athens, Creon is obliged to marry his closest relative Haemon to the late king's daughter in an inverted marriage rite, which would oblige Haemon to produce a son and heir for his dead father in law.
Creon would be deprived of grandchildren and heirs to his lineage — a fact which provides a strong realistic motive for his hatred against Antigone. This modern perspective has remained submerged for a long time. His interpretation is in three phases: In the first two lines of the first strophe, in the translation Heidegger used, the chorus says that there are many strange things on earth, but there is nothing stranger than man.
Beginnings are important to Heidegger, and he considered those two lines to describe primary trait of the essence of humanity within which all other aspects must find their essence.
Those two lines are so fundamental that the rest of the verse is spent catching up with them. The authentic Greek definition of humankind is the one who is strangest of all. Man is deinon in the sense that he is the terrible, violent one, and also in the sense that he uses violence against the overpowering.
Man is twice deinon. When Antigone opposes Creon, her suffering the uncanny, is her supreme action. When she poured dust over her brother's body, Antigone completed the burial rituals and thus fulfilled her duty to him. Having been properly buried, Polyneices' soul could proceed to the underworld whether or not the dust was removed from his body. However, Antigone went back after his body was uncovered and performed the ritual again, an act that seems to be completely unmotivated by anything other than a plot necessity so that she could be caught in the act of disobedience, leaving no doubt of her guilt.
More than one commentator has suggested that it was the gods, not Antigone, who performed the first burial, citing both the guard's description of the scene and the chorus's observation. His argument says that had Antigone not been so obsessed with the idea of keeping her brother covered, none of the deaths of the play would have happened. This argument states that if nothing had happened, nothing would have happened, and doesn't take much of a stand in explaining why Antigone returned for the second burial when the first would have fulfilled her religious obligation, regardless of how stubborn she was.Antigone (Sophocles), An Analysis -- Stories that will change your life
This leaves that she acted only in passionate defiance of Creon and respect to her brother's earthly vessel. In this situation, news of the illegal burial and Antigone's arrest would arrive at the same time and there would be no period of time in which Antigone's defiance and victory could be appreciated.
Rose maintains that the solution to the problem of the second burial is solved by close examination of Antigone as a tragic character. Being a tragic character, she is completely obsessed by one idea, and for her this is giving her brother his due respect in death and demonstrating her love for him and for what is right. When she sees her brother's body uncovered, therefore, she is overcome by emotion and acts impulsively to cover him again, with no regards to the necessity of the action or its consequences for her safety.
Creon demands obedience to the law above all else, right or wrong. He says that "there is nothing worse than disobedience to authority" An. Polynices, enraged, gathered an army and marched against Thebes, a story that is known as the Seven against Thebes.
Antigone and her Brother: What Sort of Special Relationship?
During that battle, the attackers were repelled; the two brothers ended up in single combat, and killed each other. It is this edict that drives Antigone to defy the state, since she believes her brother Polyneices deserves the same treatment as Eteocles. In the opening of the play, Antigone brings Ismene outside the palace gates late at night for a secret meeting: Ismene refuses to help her, fearing the death penalty, but she is unable to stop Antigone from going to bury her brother herself, causing Antigone to disown her out of anger.
She is brought out of the house, bewailing her fate but still vigorously defending her actions, and is taken away to her living tomb, to expressions of great sorrow by the Chorus. Creon insults Tiresias, but soon after he realizes that Tiresias has never been wrong and that he must do his bidding. A second messenger then brings the news that Eurydice has also killed herself, calling curses down on Creon for having caused the tragedy.
Eteocles, Polyneices, Ismene, and Antigone. Oedipus, shamed by his marriage and murder, surrenders the kingdom to his brother Creon.
Creon takes over the kingdom because it is feared that Eteocles and Polyneices are also cursed by the Labdacus plague and will continue bringing misery to Thebes.