Antigone by Sophocles
*Antigone She is described in the play as the daughter of Oedipus. Antigone is also the sister of Oedipus as described in the play. This is considering the fact that Oedipus married his own mother. After the death of Oedipus and his brothers, Antigone and her sister are the left as the only represenatatives of the Labdascus family. According to the play, Antigone is depicted as a heroine due to the fact that she goesto tha states to claim that one of his brother by name Polyneices ought to be buried with due respect, the same way as his other brother by the name Eteocles is buried. The public in the play claims that Antigone is too self-righteous, even alienating while others claim that she is a feminist.
*Creon Creon is the one who helps in raising-up Antigone and her sister. He makes an opinion that Eteocles, who is one of the two brothers of Antigone to be honored with buried. The reason that she gave was that Eteocles was a major defender of Thebes. Creon proceeds in pointing out that the body of Polyneices ought to left without being buried and be food of the vultures. The play-writer describes Creon as the ruler of Thebes in the wake of war. She cherishes orders and loyalty above everything else in her life. He is depicted as selfiosh and does not recognize that other forms of law exist apart from the Thebes law. The play writer describes him as a proud person and he always condemns Antigone while he defies the gods and brings destruction unto himself. He is broken by the information about the death of his wife and is forced to confront the suicide of his wife.
*Polyneices and *Eteocles Both of them are brothers of Antigone. According to the play, they appear as casualties in a brutal war for power. They both die at each other’s hand.
*Ismene She is a sister to Antigone and described as the strong foil of the sister’s life. According to the play, Ismene is depicted as a weak woman and terrible of disobeying men especially in power. She does not belief that women ought to disobey the laws that are set by men even though they are against the human rights. When her brother Polyneices dies, she fails to offer assistance in burring him.
Chorus of Theban Elders The Chorus as described in the play comments on the interactions with Creon. The elders actively intercede with the advice of Creon at a critical moment displayed at then end of the play.
Sentry/Watchman He brings the news that Polyneices has been buried and he later captures Antigone. He has a powerful and interesting speech that captures the attention of the audience in the play. His speech signifies how the Greece people use rhythms and diction in their natural speech. He has self motivated attitude and is depicted in the play as a person who tries to protect his life in all means possible. He asks basic questions that contradict with the statements given by other characters.
*Haemon He is the son of Creon and Eurydice. According to the play-writer, he is engaged to be married to Antigone. He appears to defend Antigone from his father on the issue of burying Polyneices.
Eurydice She is the mother of Haemon and the wife of Creon. She plays a major role in bringing up Antigone after the death of her brothers. She commits suicide after learning the death of her son who also succumbs to death after killing himself.
*Teiresias He is a blind prophet who warns Creon that his regards concerning treating the body of Polyneices is not in accordance with the laws of the gods.
A messenger He is described as a servant who is courageous and activbe in his work. He reports the suicides of both Antigone and Haemon to the Chorus and Eurydice. The messenger leaves to follow Eurydice when she runs off in grief.
Second Messenger This is the second messenger who reports the death of Eurydice’s to the Chorus and Creon.
III.AFTER you have read the play, type your answers to the following requirements.
State what you think is the playwright’s thesis or theme(s) and support with action and /or characters.
The themes of the play include; state power is seen clearly since Antigone goes against the state and advocates burying her brother even though the state is against the norm. Antigone argues that burial rituals are personal issues and the state is not required to interfere. Despite the threats that anyone who performs the burial rituals will face a death penalty Antigone vows to go against the law and bury her brother in the best way she knows. Antigone refuses to allow Creon control what she can do with her siblings, for instance, she is seen telling Ismene about Creon proclamation, “he has no right to keep me from my own”. In the ancient times dispute between the state and individual was constant at times not agreeing with state laws resulted to murder and torturous behavior of the state to ensure other rebellious people to conform to laws. In this scenario Antigone actions eventually resulted to the king regretting his actions and promised to be a better king (Donaldson, 2010).
This is seen in the conflict between Creon and Antigone , Antigone claims that she would rather respect God’s laws rather than state laws. Creon commands respect to set regulations he says that “there is nothing worse than disobedience to authority” but Antigone answers by saying that state regulations are not fixed hence it can be broken in civil defiance in intense cases in contrast the god’s laws cannot be broken in whatever circumstances (Donaldson, 2010).
The notion of citizenship emerge in the dispute between Creon and Antigone, in Creon opinion citizenship refers to supreme submission to the laws of the state hence Creon finds nothing wrong in accusing Antigone to death when he discovered that Antigone has forsaken her citizenship by defying him. Antigone on the other hand defines citizenship freedom to perform one’s wishes within the position of citizenship. In addition, citizenship defiance is also seen when Creon does not want to bury polyneices accordingly this also shows what it means to be a citizen. What Creon is doing means being a citizen means one is owned by the state and the government can do whatever it pleases with a person dead or alive (Donaldson, 2010). Greeks took burial rituals as a sign of identification of citizenship and attachment. In the story, it is thus normal for the people of thebes to not bury the Argives, but it is extremely shocking Creon’s actions of refusal to bury polyneices. Polyneices was a citizen of Thebes therefore it was normal for Thebans to perform burial rituals on him. In his explanation Creon claims that polyneices detached himself from them hence they are justified to treat him like a non-citizen hence burial rituals on him can be overlooked (Donaldson, 2010).
The act of Creon refusing to bury Polyneices as a normal citizen shows that Creon takes Polynieces like attackers that is Argives who when dead are not given burial rituals. Creon claims that Polyneices showed aggressive actions against the city thus invalidating his citizenship making him a foreigner. In Creon’s opinion citizenship is majorly based on devotion, it is annulled when a citizen acts against the set laws. In contrast, Antigone gives a different meaning of citizenship, Antigone agrees that Polynieces had deceived the state but the disloyalty does not permit the state to deny him the rights of a proper burial (Donaldson, 2010). Creon has convictions that citizenship is an agreement and thus if the agreement is broken, the parties have the rights of calling off the agreement. The contrasting views of citizenship, that citizenship is unconditional and unquestionable and otherwise that citizenship is based on specific manners are thus recognized as citizenship by character and citizenship by regulations.
Antigone’s willpower to perform burial rituals for Polynices originates from a need of devotion to her family, besides the gods. She continuously claim that she must do something to satisfy “those that are dead” since they have much importance than any other leader. In the scene that opens the story, Antigone makes a an touching petition to her sister Ismene claiming that they ought to defend their brother out of sibling’s love , even though he had betrayed their state. Antigone makes few notices of the gods, therefore it can be interpreted that are decisions for worshiping higher laws are laws of devotion to family not spiritual laws (Donaldson, 2010).
Although Creon denies Antigone to honor her family, he is seen to honor his family too. This is the only place whereby Antigone and Creon are seen to be on the sane side of reasoning. When Creon was addressing his son Haemon, Creon recommends that Haemon should respect the state as a citizen in addition to respecting him as his father. He goes further to note that “everything else shall be second to your father’s decision”. The posture seem tremendous, particularly in the radiance fact Creon advocates respect to the state above all else. It is not certain though how he would tackle the two values in dispute, it is certain that even for Creon, family has importance other than the state.
The place of women
Antigone’s action reflects clearly the impact of her actions. Creon also agrees that it will be hard to defeat Antigone in the dispute because she was a woman. Greek’s women were extremely denied the freedom women deserve. Antigone’s disobedient behavior is threatening to the state and it distresses gender roles imposed on greek citizens. Ismene on the other hand still believes that the men have a upper hand in every matter. She does not want a curse to be upon her caused by any disobedience behavior. She believes that men have great strength and thus should be respected. When Creon saw signs of defeat he did not want to give in since it will be against the state laws for a woman to win in a disput (Donaldson, 2010).
Antigone is seen to show pride and refuses to be defeated even when it is clear that her brother had betrayed the state and needed to punished, and that he was deemed to be buried as a foreigner rather than a citizen. The state in this story is governed by pride since the men are given an upper hand of making laws that contradict with spiritual laws. When Creon discovered that he had made a mistake of denying Antigone to do according to her wishes he still refuses to accept defeat (Donaldson, 2010). He experiences suffering of the loss of his entire family since he refuses to agree with them when they wanted him to agree with Antigone.
(Sisters) Antigone Polynices Etocles Ismene Haemon (Antigone’s fiancée)
1. Choral song in the play
The lyrical sung by Theban elders whose their main goal is to persuade Creon to burry Polynices and forget about the past. This lyrical song acts as a recollection of the past and advices the king.
2. Athenian tragedy
This during the play becomes less ceremonial where it explains the essence of gods in the society and especially to individuals in a group, which motivates the concerned individual to undertake great responsibilities.
These were half-truths held by the play’s society, which involved believing in gods as well as supernatural power and intervention. These myths about gods were believed to control and dominate nature even people’s actions.
Donaldson, W. J. (2010). The Antigone of Sophocles in Greek and English. New York: Publisher BiblioBazaar.