5th High School ‘s library of Serres Greek literature: Antigone by Sophocles
Antigone Antigone is a play written by Sophocles. It tells the story of Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus. "How dreadful it is when the right judge judges wrong." Sophocles
Character Profiles Antigone: Antigone is the daughter of Oedipus, niece of Creon, and fiancé of Haemon. She decides to violate Creon's edict by burying the corpse of her brother, Polynices. In the end, she becomes a martyr for her religious ideals. Antigone and Creon Creon: Creon is the stubborn king of Thebes who demands death for Antigone after she buries Polynices. In the end, after losing his son and wife to suicide, he realizes his tragic error in judgment. Ismene: Ismene is the sister of Antigone who hopes to convince her not to violate Creon's edict. Later, however, she comes to her sister's side.
Eurydice: She is the wife of Creon who kills herself after hearing of her son's suicide.
Teriresias: He is the seer who predicts Haemon's death as the effect of Creon's immoral edict. Haimon: "No! She won't die while I'm alive!" Haemon: He is the son of Creon and fiancé of Antigone. When he is unable to dissuade his father from killing Antigone, he chooses to commit suicide.
Chorus: The Chorus is present throughout the play, at first siding with Creon, but at the conclusion, finds fault in the king's judgment. Chorus: "For once a family is cursed by God, disasters come like earthquake tremors, worse with each succeeding generation."
TounderstandAntigone, it'simportanttoknowsomebasicbeliefsofHellenicpeople. When a corpsewasnotburied, butinsteadleftuncoveredtobeeatenbybirdsandanimals, thegodswereinsultedandmadeangry, sincethiswasthoughttobe a supremeinsulttothebody'sfamily. ThisiswhyAntigonefeelsitnecessarytoburythebodyofherbrother, whois a traitortoThebes, butherbloodnonetheless. Antigonepresentshersidewhensheproclaims, "Isn't a man'srighttoburialdecreedbydivinejustice? I don'tconsideryourpronouncementssoimportantthattheycanjust.overruletheunwrittenlawsofheaven."
The plot When Oedipus was married to his own mother, Jocasta, they had four children – two sons, Polyneices and Eteocles, and two daughters, Antigone and Ismene. The children were cursed by their fathers’ curse and so nothing good could happen to them. After Oedipus died, his two sons were supposed to rule Thebes together, but they began to fight over who would be in charge. They had a big war, and Polyneices and his brother were both killed. The people chose Creon for their new king.Creon had been on the side of Eteocles. Oedipus Cursing his Son, PolyneicesBy Henry Fuseli, 1741-1825
King Oedipus and Antigone. Statue by Rudolph Tegner, 1873-1950. Rudolph Tegners Museum, Denmark.
Creon ordered that Eteocles should be brought into the city and buried like a hero, with a big funeral. But he ordered the people to leave Polynices outside the city, unburied, like a traitor, and the dogs would eat his body.
Polynices’ sister Antigone was very upset by this order. She wanted her brother to be buried right! So early the next morning, Antigone sneaked out of the city and buried Polynices with her bare hands. When she got back, her sister Ismene tried to convince her to lie about it, but she said no, that would be wrong.
Antigone strewing dust on the body of her murdered brother Polynices.
Η Αντιγόνη εμπρός στο νεκρό Πολυνείκη (1865). Λάδι σε καμβά, 100 εκ. x 157 εκ. Εθνική Πινακοθήκη της Ελλάδας - Μουσείο Αλεξάνδρου Σούτζου.
Ismene, hopingtodissuadehersister: "I'msimplypowerlesstoactagainstthiscity'slaw." Antigone, defendingherdecision: "I intendtogivemybrotherburial. I'llbegladtodieintheattempt,-- ifit's a crime, thenit's a crimethatGodcommands."
Ismene and Antigone
Antigone : ... I love no friend whose love is only words.Ismene : O sister, sister, let me share your death. Share in the tribute of honour to him that is dead.Antigone : You shall not die with me. Do not claim deeds to which you did not put your hand. One death is enough.Ismene : Ah, misery! Will I fall short of sharing your fate?Antigone : Your choice was to live, it was mine to die "... We are women; it is not for us to fight against men; our rulers are stronger than we, and we must obey in this, or in worse than this." (Ismene to Antigone . Sophocles
When Creon found out that Antigone had buried Polynices, he was very angry. And he was even more angry when she said she wasn’t sorry at all. Antigone argued that it was more important to obey the law of the gods (to bury your brother) than to obey the law of the king. But Creon said the king decided the law, and everyone had to obey it. He ordered his guards to kill her by shutting her up in a cave with nothing to eat or drink.
"You will make me hate you, and the hatred of the dead, by all rights, will haunt you night and day. But leave me to my own absurdity, leave me to suffer this – dreadful thing. I will suffer nothing as great as death without glory."
"Bereft, friendless, unloved, I see the sun for the last time."
Creon’s son, Haemon, was in love with Antigone, and he tried to save her. Creon and Haimon argued because Creon wanted to put Antigone to death for attempting to bury Polyneices. Haimon tried to convince him not to, because Antigone was s his fiance, and her death might also offend the citizens that side with her. In response, Creon not only refuses to listen, but threatens to kill Antigone in front of his son's eyes. Haimon's view of his father is forever tainted. The intensity of their argument drives Haimon to commit suicide at Antigone's side.
Creon: "Can't fight against what's destined.I must personally undo what I have done. I shouldn't have tried being unorthodox. I'll stick by the established laws in the future." By my stubbornness, oh my son, so young, to die so young, and all because of me."
Creon now fully realizes the results of his actions, wishing for his own death. The Chorus sums up the entire theme of the play in its final word, concluding, "The greater your arrogance, the heavier God's revenge." It seems that the dreadful punishment of the gods has now been inflicted on the entire family.
Chorus: "The greater your arrogance, the heavier God's revenge."
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