Sophocles is an ancient Greek writer and philosopher, who wrote one of the greatest stories of all time Antigone. Sophocles is also said to be one of the greatest minds in the ancient world. This paper talks about Antigone, achievements and times of Sophocles.
Sophocles was born about 496 BC at Colonus in Attica, near Athens and died 406 BC. He lived in the most brilliant intellectual period of Athens. Sophillus, his father, was a wealth Athenian citizen and gave him a sound education in music, gymnastics, and dancing. He was well known as having a reputation for learning and esthetic taste. He was well versed in Homer and the Greek lyric poets, and because of his industriousness he was known as the “Attic Bee” (Rexine 132). “Do to his youthful beauty, he was chosen to lead the chorus in the Paen of Thanksgiving for the naval victory at Salamis in 480 BC.” (Rexine 132)
In Sophocles’ long life he several times held public office, partly do to his fame as a dramatist and his gentle qualities as a man. “In 440 BC he was appointed one of the generals in the war which Pericles led against Samos, and in 413 BC.” (Magill, Kohler p# 1023) He was also one of the ten commissioners appointed after the failure of the expedition to Sicily, to govern Athens. Pericles once said to him “you know how to write poetry, but you certainly don’t know how to command an army” (Internet)
Sophocles first won first prize, in a competition with Aeschylus, on 468 BC at the age of twenty-eight. During his career he never won less than second prize and gained first prize twenty times, more than any other Greek tragedian. Sophocles wrote more than 120 tragedies, only a mear seven have survived. “Plutarch tells us that there were three periods in Sophocles’s literary development: imitation of the grand style of Aeschylus, use of artificial and incisive style, and use of the best style and that which is most expressive of character. It is only from the third period we have examples of.” (Rexine p#134)
The seven tragedies that survive are Ajax 447 BC, Antigone 442/441 BC, Oedipus at Colonus 401 BC, Tracheniae 437-432 BC, Oedipus Rex 429 BC, Electra 418-414 BC.
Sophocles’ Antigone and Bill Clinton
Antigone and Bill Clinton
Antigone, in Greek legend, was the daughter of Oedipus. When her brothers Eteocles and Polynices killed one another, Creon, king of Thebes, forbade the rebel Polynices’ burial. Antigone disobeyed him, performed the rites, and was condemned to death for what she had done.
Now the question arises, “Did Antigone take proper action?”. Was it just to go against her Uncle Creon’s wishes and go ahead and bury the brother that was to be left out for the vultures? Would it be better to leave the situation how they are? Could she go on about life trying not to think of how she left her own blood out in the open? Could Antigone act as if she did not care?
Afterlife to the Greeks back then was far more important and sacred than living life itself. Everything they did while they were alive was to please the many gods they worshipped. They built temples for their Gods, made statues to symbolize their Gods, and had a different God to explain things that we now say are an act of mother nature. It may seem rather foolish to us when we study their beliefs and compare them to modern day beliefs. I am sure the Greeks would have considered us to be heathens and put us to death for our ways and beliefs.
I think Antigone thought her act was courageous and valid. I myself would not have risked my life to ensure a proper burial for anyone, whether it was in modern times or back then. To go against authority and break the laws given by the monarch was a plain senseless act. When someone is dead we now know there is nothing else anyone or anything can do for them at that point. It is too bad the Greeks did not believe that. As I stated before, afterlife to the Greeks was more important than living life itself. The Greeks seemed to spend most if not all of their lives preparing in some way for their afterlives. The lives they led back then were consecutive to please the Gods. I feel that she deserved her punishment because of the fact that she knew what fate was to come of her actions. Just because Antigone thought she was doing the right thing does not mean it was right.