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Antigone


Introduction


Antigone is a tragedy play written by Sophocles, one of the three Greek tragedians and has their plays surviving to date. Antigone is one of the third of the three Theban plays that depicts the destiny of Thebes during the transition from the reign of King Oedipus to Creon. The play provides further insight on the Theban legend that predated it.

Outline of Antigone


The play begins with two brothers leading opposite sides that are embroiled in Thebes’ civil war to their death. Creon, who is the new leader of Thebes, decides to honor Eteocles while condemning Polyneices to shame. The ruler decides not to allow the body of Polyneices to be sanctified by holy rites. The body is left to lie in the battlefield unburied, prey for carrion animals such as worms and vultures. This was the harshest punishment administered then.

Antigone and Ismene are the siblings left behind by Polyneices and Eteocles. Antigone discloses to her sister Ismene her plan to bury their brother’s body in defiance of Creon’s decree. Fearing the death penalty, Ismene does not agree with the secret plan and refuses to help her sister bury their brother. Despite Ismene refusal to help her, Antigone disowns her sister out of anger and goes ahead with her plan.

The play continues with Creon seeking the support of the Chorus of Theban Elders to back his orders in regard to the disposal of Polyneices’ remains. However, despite the support of the Theban Elders, Creon is informed by a Sentry that the body of Polyneices has been buried. Antigone is arrested for the crime and confesses by arguing with Creon on the morality of the edict in comparison to her actions. Ismene, on the other hand, tries to side with her sister, but Antigone, will not have it.

The imprisonment of Antigone results in friction between Creon and his son Haemon who was engaged to Antigone. The decision to bury Antigone alive does not go down well with Tiresias one of the Thebes blind prophets. Tiresias warns Creon that the gods are displeased with his actions, and any sacrifice will not be accepted. The blind prophet prophesies that Creon will lose his son due to his actions. This prophesies that comes to pass when Haemon stabs himself to death after Antigone commits suicide. Creon also loses his wife Eurydice after she takes her life due to the loss of her son Haemon. Creon is cursed by his wife on her last breath. Creon becomes a broken man due to the events that followed his actions. The play concludes by the Chorus saying despite the fact that the gods punish the proud, punishment results in wisdom.