Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Antigone

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July 8, 00


Antigone


Sophocles’ play Antigone is an example of the endurance of a woman’s convictions. How far will someone go to harbor a family member, or protect the sanctity of his or her religion? Antigone shows the extent of her love of her family and belief no mortal is above the gods.


Creon ruler of Thebes is a pretty straightforward person. He is the absolute ruler of the land of Thebes. Creon had two nieces who were Antigone and Ismene. He also had two nephews who were Oedipus and Eteocles. The latter was Creons’ predecessor. Oedipus led a revolt against his brother Eteocles in an effort to overthrow the throne. Both brothers, ended up of dying of their wounds in combat.


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When Creon ascended to the throne, one of his first decrees was that the traitorous corpse of Oedipus be left to rot in the streets. That decision made Antigone become infuriated. She said, “All the same these rights are due to the underworld”. It is a complete and total disgrace not to bury the remains of the dead. I believe once you get past the uniforms and ethnic identities, we are all the same. Everyone should be afforded their last rights no matter what their beliefs or practices were while they still walked the earth.


Antigone also kept loyal to her family values no matter what the consequence. An example of this belief is present in dialogue between Antigone and Ismene. Antigone asks Ismene “ Help me lift the body up”. Ismene replies, “What would you bury him? Against the proclamation?” Antigone then replies “My own brother and yours I will; I shall not prove disloyal”; Knowing full well that she could possibly be ostracized or even worse; killed by disobeying the decree of her uncle.


I think Creon was pretty confident in the choice he made regarding members of his family. Well he was until hearing of a horrific turn of events that would soon come, from Tiresias the soothsayer. At first Creon was hesitant about whether or not to believe him. There was good reason to believe Tiresias, this is evident in the comment made by a senator after the seer left. He said “The seer is gone, my lord, denouncing woe……….we have known him for a watch who never warned the state in vain.” I think Creon never really doubted the seer, because of the seer’s history of predicting events with accurate ability.


Not long after the seer’s predictions, there was news of a fatality. Haemon, son of Creon and Eurydice had killed himself in desperation. He wanted to be with Antigone with much necessity that he took his own life. Not long after the discovery of Haemons’ corpse, Creon is greeted by a messenger. To Creon’s dismay he finds out that his beloved wife Eurydice had been found with a dagger pierced thru her heart. She couldn’t cope dealing with the death of her son so she escaped the stress and hoped to join him and her ex-husband in the after-life. This is evident in a quote by a messenger he says, “She with a sharp-edged dagger in her heart lies at the alter; and her darkened lids close on her wailing for the glorious lot of Megareus , who died before, and next for his, and last upon her summoning evil to fall on thee, the child-slayer!” With the loss of her life, I think he had lost all hope for himself. Without his family he didn’t have a purpose for living. He would just live out his days a depressed man with no one to accompany him.This is evident when Creon said, “Come thou most welcome Fate, appear, O come; bring my days’ final date, fill up their sum! Come quick, I pray; let me not look upon another day!”


I think the sour turn of events after his banishing of Antigone to her false bridal chamber made him realize just how much more important family was to him than political power or even his crown. Religion was a very integral part of his family’s infrastructure. When he dismissed their religious beliefs, especially one as sacred as ceremonial burial rights. He imposed an edict that no man has a mortal right to do . I think he freed Antigone from her captivity due to his longing to be on an even scale with fate. The death of his loved ones made him realize his own mortality. I think when he realized his own mortality he felt lost with his newfound destiny. I see this evident in the following words by Creon “Lead me forth, cast me out, no other than a man undone; who did slay, unwitting, thy mother and thee, my son! I turn me I know not where for my plans ill-sped, and a doom that is heavy to bear is come down on my head.


I think the conflict between Creon and Antigone displayed a clash of the two highest moral principles family/religious values and the state. Even to this day the issue of the separation between church and state is widely controversial. I think that like with all things, a balance should always be the primary mission of any feuding parties.





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