Antigone – Sophocles
Antigone is a tragedy written by Sophocles in or before 441 BC. This is the third play of the three Theban plays, but chronologically it was written first. The main plot is burial of Antigone’s brother Polyneices. She raises arguments and questions about morality and law. These issues are important today as they were more than two thousand years ago. Antigone is the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta and she represents a true heroine who stands up for her beliefs.
The action of the playwright follows on from the Theban war. In the war Eteocles and Polyneices, two brothers, killed each other for the Theban throne. Creon, the new king of Thebes, decided to leave Polynieces’s body unburied as a shameful punishment. Antigone’s plan is to ignore Creon’s decision and bury brother’s body anyhow. If she buries brother’s body, Creon will have her killed.
This conflict involves two competing sides, religious side and political. Politically, Antigone is more loyal to her family than to law while Creon’s basic focus is the rule of law and the interest of the state. Religiously, Antigone desires to honor the gods by burying Polynieces while Creon overlooks the god’s laws in favor of his own rules. Who is right and who is wrong?
SUMMARY-Antigone – Sophocles
Reader is introduced with the past events in footnote.
Two brothers Eteocles and Polynieces were Creon’s, king of Thebes, heirs. They had an agreement to rule one after another. Although Eteocles was younger brother, it was decided that he will rule the first. After a year of his reign, it was Polynieces turn to rule but Eteocles said no. Instead he exiled his brother from the state. Polynieces decided to go to Argos. There he met Adrastus, king’s daughter, and he married her. Adrastus helped her husband to fight his brother. Polynieces and Eteocles confronted in the conflict and both got killed.
The story line now goes back to present events. In present, Antigone talks how her brother Eteocles is buried and Polynieces is not. His body is left on the battlefield unburied as a punishment because he did not obey Creon’s rule. Antigone wants to keep their family honor and bury the body. She will do that despite Creon’s law. Ismene, Antigone’s sister, told her not to do that because the punishment is death. But Antigone got really angry. For the honor of her brother, she is prepared to die.