November 15, 2006
Pride and Power
Antigone the Tragedy
Characters in Antigone
á Antigone- She is the oldest daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta. Her name in Greek means Ôone who is of the opposite opinionÕ (anti = opposite, gnomi = opinion). She is the braver of OedipusÕ two daughters, and believes that her brother, Polyneices, deserves a proper burial, so she sets out to do just that. Antigone is the one that stays with Oedipus when he is banished, a blind man, from Thebes.
á Ismene- She is the youngest daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta. Her name in Greek means Ôto linger towardsÕ (eis = towards, mene = linger). She warns Antigone that trying to give their brother a proper burial would surely lead to her death and declares that she wants nothing to do with the whole idea. After Antigone is captured by Creon, Ismene states that she helped because she wants to be executed with her sister. Antigone states that she is innocent, and therefore, Ismene is set free.
á Creon- He is JocastaÕs brother and the ruler of Thebes. He is also HaemonÕs father. Creon exiled Oedipus from Thebes after Oedipus killed his father and married his mother. Creon also declared that Polyneices would not receive a proper burial because he committed treason against his own city. Creon punishes Antigone to death.
á Haemon- He is CreonÕs son. Haemon is supposed to marry Antigone, however, when Creon banishes Antigone to her death, Haemon runs off. He is later found, dead by her side, after committing suicide for his lost love.
á Polyneices- He is the eldest son of Oedipus and Jocasta. Although he supposedly is the next in line to receive power to the throne, Eteocles takes over and banishes Polyneices from Thebes. Polyneices then gathers and army and attacks his brother. He ends up killing his brother, and being killed by his brother in battle.
á Eteocles- He is the younger son of Oedipus and Jocasta, and is the younger brother to Polyneices. He takes over the throne when he is old enough, and banishes Polyneices from Thebes. When Polyneices attacks Eteocles for the throne, Eteocles kills him, and is killed by same, simultaneously, in battle. (Wikipedia, Antigone)
The setting of this tragedy takes place in the city of Thebes. Oedipus, who was supposed to be the ruler of Thebes, was banished by Creon because he killed his father and married his brother. Creon was the ruler until OedipusÕ sons were old enough to take the throne.
Antigone Plot Summary
Oedipus was banished from Thebes, when the prophecy of patricide and incest was proven true. Oedipus left Thebes a blind and broken man. Creon took over the throne because OedipusÕ two sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, were too young to become rulers. As time passed, and the two sons aged, Eteocles claimed the throne for himself, exiling his older brother Polyneices. Polyneices then gathered a giant army and attacked Eteocles for the throne. Neither of the two sons won because they both ended up killing each other in battle.
Creon then resumes power and declares that Eteocles will have a proper burial; however, PolyneicesÕ body will be left for the dogs and vultures to eat, as a punishment for his disgrace. Antigone, PolyneicesÕ sister, then learns of such news and decides that she must give her brother a proper burial. Her sister, Ismene, warns her against the dangers and consequences and states that she will not have any part in helping her sister with her scheme. Antigone then goes to her brothersÕ guarded body and pours dirt and sand over him, performing the proper burial rights.
As guards brush the dirt off the body, she reveals herself willingly. Creon is enraged and imprisons both Antigone and Ismene, who he believes to be an accomplice. CreonÕs son, Haemon, pleads with his father to release Antigone, his bride-to-be. Creon ridicules Haemon for his ridiculous thoughts of freeing Antigone. Haemon then runs off, crushed that his father would treat his so badly. Creon then states that IsmeneÕs innocence is clear and that only Antigone should be punished, so he takes Antigone to a cave outside the city and buries her alive. Teiresias, the blind prophet then warns Creon that the gods are unhappy for the lack of proper burial and that his sonÕs death shall be the punishment. Creon mocks Teiresias, but the chorus reminds Creon that the prophet has never been wrong. Now worried for his sonÕs life, Creon performs the proper burial rituals for PolyneicesÕ body. Creon then rushes to free Antigone, but it is too late, she is dead, and Haemon has killed himself for her. A broken man, Creon returns to the kingdom only to learn that his wife, Eurydice, has killed herself after learning about her sonÕs death. Creon is then lead away by the chorus, lamenting in his own self misery. (BookRags, Antigone)
Structure of Antigone
á Parados- The chorus enters and rejoices the fact that the war between the two brothers is finally over. They claim that the gods rightfully punished such arrogant boasts and hatred between the two men, and that they really got what was genuinely coming to them. (Pages 7-9, Lines 100-161)
á Episode I- Creon declares that the body of Polyneices wonÕt be given a proper burial and will be left for the dogs to eat as a punishment. He then states that any person who tries to give the body a burial will be punished by death. He assigns men to guard the body to make sure no one touches it. However, a sandstorm blows dust around and Antigone performs the proper burial rights for her brother. A watchman then goes and tells Creon, who is enraged. (Pages 9-16, Lines 162-331)
á Stasimon I- The chorus sings about how nothing is more wonderful or terrible than the human race. They sing about how man is cunning and deceitful, and how justice will prevail among those who do wrong. (Pages 16-18, Lines 332-375)
á Episode II- The watchmen stand on guard and discover that it is Antigone who has gone against the law set by Creon. They take the girl to Creon who almost canÕt believe that a girl would do such a thing. Antigone states that itÕs wrong for her brotherÕs body to be left to just rot, and that he deserved a proper burial too. Ismene then shows up and states that she helped Antigone, but Antigone states that her sister did not help at all and that it was all her fault. Creon tells his men to lock the girls up and make sure they do not get away. (Pages 18- 28, Lines 375- 581)
á Stasimon II- The chorus is shocked to learn that Antigone would go against the law so willingly. They sing about how such punishment will arise from such a little thing, the spreading of a thin layer of dust over the body of Polyneices. The chorus then declares that there is no escape from imminent disaster. (Pages 28-30, Lines 582- 625)
á Episode III- Haemon enters and pleads with his father not to kill Antigone. Creon claims that Haemon is blinded by love and must see that the law is more powerful. Haemon states that he doesnÕt have any disrespect for his father or for the law, but that itÕs truly unfair to punish Antigone so severely. Creon then states that he is going to take Antigone to a cave and bury her alive so she can starve. Haemon then states the he is not going to be around Antigone when she is killed and runs off. (Pages 30-37, Lines 626-780)
á Stasimon III- The chorus sings about love. How love conquers all battles and how it prevails over everything. Then they weep over the fate of Antigone and how she will never be the bride of Haemon. (Pages 37-38, Lines 781-805)
á Episode IV- Antigone exchanges conversation with the chorus about how it unfair that she is being lead to her grave. She states that she didnÕt do anything wrong, and that her brother deserved the respect that comes from a proper burial. Creon then states that he has no mercy, and leads her to her doom. (Pages 38-42, Lines 806-943)
á Stasimon IV- The chorus laments about how Antigone is of noble blood and how her noble blood is being defiled by such a cruel death. They then reflect upon how her brothers too, were of noble blood and how their deaths were so miserable. (Pages 42-44, Lines 944-987)
á Episode V- In this episode, Creon is warned by the prophet, Teiresias, that the gods are not pleased that he did not give Polyneices a proper burial. He tells Creon that his punishment for not giving a proper burial will be the life of his son. Creon believes that the prophet is mocking him and disregards his warning. However, Creon then begins to fear for his sonÕs life and gives Polyneices a proper burial and sends his men to free Antigone. (Pages 44-50, Lines 988-1114)
á Stasimon V- The chorus sings about how the gods have the power to cause terrible ruin if you do not heed their warnings. Such as Creon, he should wisely listen to the blind prophet because he has never been wrong before. (Pages 50-52, Lines 1115-1154)
á Episode VI- A messenger returns with the news that Antigone was dead, and that CreonÕs son killed himself because of her. Creon is devastated and returns to the kingdom only to learn that his wife has also killed herself because of the loss of her son. Creon is now completely broken and devastated and doesnÕt have anything left to live for. (Pages 52-56, Lines 1155-1260)
á Parados- The chorus leads Creon away in his own self misery. The state that wisdom is a very powerful tool and should be used wisely otherwise the gods will punish you for your actions. (Pages 56- 60, Lines 1261-1353) (Sophocles, Antigone)
Themes in Antigone
A major theme evident within this tragedy is pride. (BookRags, Antigone) OedipusÕ sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, were both too prideful because they both wanted the power that came from taking over the throne at Thebes. As a result, it led to both of their self-destructions, as they killed each other in a battle for power. Antigone is too proud to let her brotherÕs body be eaten and destroyed by the dogs and by the vultures. As a result, she goes against the very strict law that Creon placed within Thebes. In a way, one could argue that it was AntigoneÕs excessive pride that led to her own demise and that if she had just followed CreonÕs laws then she wouldnÕt have been executed. CreonÕs pride for Thebes is what caused Polyneices to be known as such a villain. If Creon had just buried the body properly, then he could have spared his sonÕs and his wifeÕs lives. Also, CreonÕs pride within his own laws caused him to look past the prophetÕs warning. By the time Creon finally realized that it was the gods who held the highest power, it was too late. Creon also states that his son is like a slave to Antigone and mocks his son for not respecting his power. This causes Haemon to rush off, dejected, and later causes him to commit suicide. It is only after Creon is humbled, that he realizes the grave mistakes he has made. By this time, however, it is too late to fix anything and he has lost everything.
"Antigone." BookRags. 2004. 15 Nov. 2006 <http://www.bookrags.com/notes/
This article was actually quite helpful. It gave background of each character, including some of their etymologies. This site also gave certain pages numbers, where particular phrases or portions of the tragedy were pointed out as being important. The site also gave details about the plot summary and the setting of where the tragedy took place.
"Antigone." Wikipedia. 23 Oct. 2006. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. 5 Nov. 2006
This article gave information regarding specific characters in the tragedy Antigone. It gave background information on each characterÕs family, and sometimes even facts of each character during ancient Greek times. The site also gave background information around the Trojan War and the war between AntigoneÕs two brothers.
Sophocles. Theban Plays. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 2003.
Antigone, was one of three Theban plays that were included within this novel. The other two were Oedipus Tyrannus, and Oedipus at Colonus. Antigone told the story of two brothers that lusted for power, and ended up killing each other in battle because of it. Antigone, their oldest sister performed a proper burial for one of her brothers and got caught and sentenced to death for it. In the end, Creon suffers great losses because of his selfish acts for power.