Religious Conflict in Sophocles’ Antigone
Antigone is a tragedy by Sophocles written in or before BC. Of the three Theban plays Advertising artwork for a contemporary production featuring Antigone Antigone and Ismene are the sisters of the dead Polyneices and Eteocles. . typical difference in Sophocles' plays from those of both Aeschylus and Euripides. The conflict between Antigone and Creon takes place because two Whatever interpretation is given to any single aspect of his work, his art or his personality . Let us first see what the nature of Antigone's relationship to the gods is; there are In sum, Antigone's burial of Polynices reflects a fundamental unity between the . quoted above, however, suggests a more complicated relation between mimesis . while Ismene protests that in burying Polynices Antigone would commit an.
Creon is the current King of Thebes, who views law as the guarantor of personal happiness. 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?
The Sex and Incest of Antigone and Freud's Lectures — Google Arts & Culture
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. 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.
The Sex and Incest of Antigone and Freud's Lectures
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. 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. Antigone responds with the idea that state law is not absolute, and that it can be broken in civil disobedience in extreme cases, such as honoring the gods, whose rule and authority outweigh Creon's. Natural law and contemporary legal institutions[ edit ] In Antigone, Sophocles asks the question, which law is greater: Sophocles votes for the law of the gods.
He does this in order to save Athens from the moral destruction which seems imminent. Sophocles wants to warn his countrymen about hubris, or arrogance, because he believes this will be their downfall. In Antigone, the hubris of Creon is revealed.
Creon's decree to leave Polyneices unburied in itself makes a bold statement about what it means to be a citizen, and what constitutes abdication of citizenship. It was the firmly kept custom of the Greeks that each city was responsible for the burial of its citizens. Herodotus discussed how members of each city would collect their own dead after a large battle to bury them.
Since he is a citizen of Thebes, it would have been natural for the Thebans to bury him.
Antigone and her Brother: What Sort of Special Relationship?
Eteocles, however, was allotted the first year, and refused to surrender the crown. There he is welcomed by the king, Adrastus who gives him his daughter, Argeafor his wife. Polynices then pleads his case to King Adrastus, requesting his help to restore him to the throne of Thebes. Adrastos promises to do so and to that end sets out to gather an expeditionary force to march against Thebes.
He appoints seven individual champions to lead this assault, one for each of the seven gates in the walls of the city. The expedition soon proved to be complete disaster, as all of the Argive champions save for Adrastus were slain in the ensuing battle; Polynices and Eteocles face off against one another in single combat and kill each other.
Ten years after Polynices' death, the sons of the seven fallen champions gathered to launch a second assault against the city of Thebes to avenge the deaths of their fathers; they are the known as the Epigoni.
Polynices - Wikipedia
Unlike their fathers before them, these Epigoni are successful in their attempt to take Thebes, after which they install ThersanderPolynices' son by Argea, as the city's new ruler.
Burial[ edit ] In Sophocles ' tragedy AntigonePolynices' story continues after his death. King Creonwho ascended to the throne of Thebes, decreed that Polynices was not to be buried or even mourned, on pain of death by stoning. Antigonehis sister, defied the order, but was caught. Creon decreed death, this in spite of her betrothal to his son Haemon. Antigone's sister, Ismenethen declared she had aided Antigone and wanted the same fate.