In Antigone and Lysistrata the tension between the polis and oikos is reflected in different ways. Antigone prioritizes oikos over polis, while Creon prioritizes polis over oikos. The men in Lysistrata favor fighting for the state over being at home while the women want their husbands with them instead of being at the war. We find ample evidence of different conflicts and similarities in both plays, but the male’s prioritizing polis over oikos and the female’s prioritizing oikos over polis causes the central tension in Antigone and Lysistrata.
Sophocles’ Antigone, a tragedy, written around 441BC has been interpreted in various ways as a conflict between family and state. Both sides have a clear concept of where their duty lies and are resolved to follow its dictates. Creon, acting in the state’s interest, finds it politically expedient to deny burial to the traitor Polyneices. On the other hand, Antigone acting in the family’s interests claims that the right of burial surpasses any other considerations. To her, a proper burial is the unwritten law of heaven, so she performs the last rites over her brother’s body and is condemned to death. Sophocles portrays two strong-willed people, Creon and Antigone, in conflict in the play.
Antigone’s first priority is her family, while Creon’s is his state. In trying to persuade her sister Ismene to help her bury her brother Polyneices, she states, “Now we shall soon find out / If you are true-born daughter of your line, / Or if you will disgrace your noble blood”(38-40). Antigone is telling Ismene that a true-born daughter shall always favor the family member. She gives Ismene two options: if Ismene chooses to help Antigon…
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… conflict arises when Creon orders the worst Greek punishment for the traitorous Polyneices. Antigone, for whom family pride is everything, won’t tolerate the insult. However, in both plays, the women’s priority is oikos, which contrasts with the men’s priority of polis. These contrasting views create the central tension in both plays.
Sophocles. Antigone. Oedipus the King and Antigone. Trans. Peter D. Arnott. Arlington heights, IL: Davidson, Crofts Classics, 1960
Aristophanes. Lysistrata. Lysistrata and Other Plays. Trans. Alan H. Sommerstein. New York: Penguin Books, 1973.
Antigone plus Tragedy. Tricky Problems, Versality and Sophocles. Lecture. Lise Kildegaard. CFL, October 2, 1997.
Aristophanes plus Comedy. Silliness, Naughtiness, and Tricky Problems. Lecture. Carol Gilbertson. CFL, October 7, 1997.
Contradiction Between Morals in Sophocles’ Antigone
Antigone: Contradiction Between Morals
In Ancient Greece, new ideals surfaced as answers to life’s complicated questions. These new beliefs were centered on the expanding field of science. Man was focused on more than the Gods or heavenly concerns. A government that was ruled by the people was suggested as opposed to a monarchy that had existed for many years. Freedom of religion was encouraged in city-states. These new ideals, though good in intentions, often conflicted with each other creating complex moral dilemmas. Such was the case in Antigone, a play written by Sophocles during this era of change. In the play, Antigone and Creon battle a philosophical war exemplifying the conflict existing in the Greek ideals. They both based their actions on their beliefs of what is right and wrong. The conflict arose when the ideals that backed up their actions clashed with each other, making it a contradiction between morals.
Antigone’s side of the conflict held a much more heavenly approach, as opposed to the mundane road that Creon chose to follow. Antigone feels that Creon is disregarding the laws of heaven through his edict. After she is captured and brought to Creon, she tells him “I do not think your edicts strong enough to overrule the unwritten unalterable laws of God and heaven, you being only a man” (Sophocles page #). Antigone’s staunch opinion is one that supports the Gods and the laws of heaven. Her reasoning is set by her belief that if someone is not given a proper burial, that person would not be accepted into heaven. Antigone was a very religious person, and acceptance of her brother by the Gods was very important to her. She felt that “It is against you and me he has made this order. Yes, against m…
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…. Underline titles of plays.
2. Your thesis statement appears in its own paragraph. Thesis statements are a part of the introduction and should be included in the introductory paragraph.
3. In your thesis statement, be specific about the ideals of Creon and Antigone. The conflict arose when the ideals that backed up their actions, the law of the gods and the law of man, clashed with each other, making it a contradiction between morals. This way your readers know exactly what you are going to discuss in your paper.
4. When quoting, always cite the quote by putting in parentheses the name of the author and the page on which the quote can be found. That way, your readers can look the quote up for themselves.