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God Versus Man in Sophocles’ Antigone

God Versus Man in Antigone

Throughout Sophocles’ drama, Antigone, there are many themes that can be traced. One of the most predominant themes is god versus man, which appears not only in Antigone, but also in many of the classic Greek tragedies written in Sophocles’ time.

Choragos: There is no happiness where there is no wisdom;

No wisdom but in submission to the gods.

Big words are always punished,

And proud men in old age learn to be wise. (158)

The quotation above serves as the moral for this tragedy, which includes an illustration of the theme as it was applied to the play. In the drama, Antigone, the theme of the inner struggle between allegiance to human law versus divine law can best be seen through Antigone’s reverence for the gods in relation to her actions, Kreon’s realization of the effects of his selfish pride, and the people of Thebes’ observations about Kreon’s decisions.

Antigone has the most direct struggles with human law and a higher law in the drama, for it is the application of this theme that decides her fate. Faced with the decision to defy the King and properly bury her brother, Polyneices, or leave his body unprepared for death as Kreon wished, she chose to obey the wishes of the gods and bury him. At the time of the drama, the Greeks believed that a decent burial was essential for the soul to be at rest. Kreon accused Polyneices of fighting against his own country and forbade all citizens of Thebes to prepare his body. Instead, it was left to decay on the field on which he was killed. When Antigone first hears this news, she immediately reacts by telling her sister, Ismene, that she wants Polyneices’ soul to be at rest, and th…

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…edited by Dudley, Lavinia P. et alii. New York:Americana Corporation, 1957. vol. 2.

Segal, Charles Paul. “Sophocles’ Praise of Man and the Conflicts of the Antigone.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Sophocles. Antigone, Trans. by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. Adventures in Appreciation/Pegasus Edition. Orlando: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, Publishers, 1989.

“Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.

Woodard, Thomas. Introduction. In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Watling, E. F.. Introduction. In Sophocles: The Theban Plays, translated by E. F. Watling. New York: Penguin Books, 1974.

Creon as the Ideal Tragic Hero of Sophocles’ Antigone

Creon as the Ideal Tragic Hero of Antigone

Tragedy always involves human suffering, but not everyone who suffers is a Tragic Hero. According to Aristotle, there are five basic criteria that must be met for a character to be considered a Tragic Hero. Aristotle’s ideas about tragedy were recorded in his book of literacy theory titled Poetics. In it he has a great deal to say about the structure, purpose and intended effect of tragedy. His ideas have been adopted, disputed, expanded, and discussed for several centuries. In this essay, I will examine these criteria in regards to Antigone’s Creon, King of Thebes.

The first criterion states that to be a tragic hero, Creon must occupy a “high” status position, but must also embody nobility and virtue as part of his innate character. Creon fits this description quite accurately. We know at the beginning of the play that Creon is King of Thebes. Therefore, he occupies a stature of nobility. Furthermore, Creon’s innate character embodies virtue and nobility. For example, when talking to the Chorus at the beginning of the play, Creon says, “…anyone thinking/another man more a friend than his own country/I rate him nowhere…I would not be silent if I saw ruin, not safety…I would not count any enemy of my country as a friend” (Lines 202-210). His standards are set to the point where he would put his country above all else. He would do anything to protect his country; he would “not be silent if [he] saw ruin, not safety” (line 204).

Also, Creon shows a high sense of morality when he properly buried Eteocles, Antigone’s brother. Antigone herself says this when speaking to her sister, Ismene, “Creon honored the one…Eteocles, they say he has used justly with lawful rites and hid him …

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…earn from. Finally, his punishment delivered by fate exceeds his crimes. Thus, according to Aristotle, Creon is the prefect tragic hero.

Works Cited and Consulted

Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.

Segal, Charles Paul. “Sophocles’ Praise of Man and the Conflicts of the Antigone.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Sophocles. Antigone. Translated by R. C. Jebb. The Internet Classic Archive. no pag.

http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/antigone.html

“Sophocles” In Literature of the Western World, edited by Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. NewYork: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1984.

Watling, E. F.. Introduction. In Sophocles: The Theban Plays, translated by E. F. Watling. New York: Penguin Books, 1974.

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