Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Life's struggles, seem to remain the same no matter what day of age. Technology and the advancement of the human race has little or no effect on what people still battle with on an everyday occurrence. In the play of “Antigone” the conflicts of humanity vs. the gods, the state vs. the individual, women vs. men, youth vs. age, and the living vs. the dead, in Ancient Greek society are explored. Contemporary audiences can still strongly relate to these conflicts even though taking place in ancient times. Antigone even by modern times would be more closely sympathized with than Creon, because of the common values which we are still taught today. These values are loyalty, persistence, the freedom to practice religion and most importantly honor the dead.

Within the play there is much outweighing evidence which supports, such as the common people and how they still put the decree of the gods over any laws made by men. Even the Chorus who closely follows and obeys Creon, disagrees with his decision to not allow the burial of Antigone’s brother, Polyneices. Today laws are written to take into account the basic underlying morals and beliefs of all religion, not completely so that there is no separation between the state and religion but so that they both acknowledge each other.

When reading this great tragedy “Antigone”, I found the struggle of power in the story to be overwhelmingly clear. This power struggle allows for the great strife that both the State and the People have to overcome. Two people in this tragedy represent these two groups; Creon the leader of the civilization or the state, and Antigone who stands for the free will of the people.

The State in most cultures sets laws and regulations in order to maintain the populous. Creon who represents the state is a very hard, determined, and strict leader. Do not get the wrong impression though, Creon is as strict as he is, to show his country and people that he is unwavering and stands for everything he says. Throughout much of the story Sophocles gives us the impression that Creon has no compassion. But, it is clear when his son Haimon, who is also Antigone’s lover, comes into the picture how much he cares for his son. Both Creon and Antigone show much loyalty throughout the play but it is the loyalty of Antigone with whom people not only in the play but by today’s readers side with. Antigone’s dedication to her family is also unwavering, even when faced with criminal punishment she presses on with even more strength.

Antigone represents the other half of the struggle in this great tragedy who, stands for the moral and free will of the people. This story is very interesting because it talks about the conflict, which happens daily in our own country, State vs. Religion. Antigone, who is trying to bring peace to her dead brother, has the most to overcome. Her brother, who committed treason by fighting in an army against his own, died in battle and was declared a traitor by Creon. This entailed no proper burial and the defacing of his name. When Creon proclaimed this, he wanted to make a statement and an example out of Antigone’s brother. Creon, who represents the state and the laws which govern the state, has to abide by them. He is in a position where he can’t waiver because if he falters and goes back on his word he will lose the confidence of the people. What kind of leader would Creon be, if he created laws which could be ignored in certain cases; he would have an uprising and be thrown out of power. The interesting thing is that this story is a Greek tragedy and the Greeks had a very spiritual background, which consisted of many gods and superstitions. Even today religion still plays a major role in most everyones lives; even if not everyone practices religion. Religion is what has set many of our social and moral boundaries.

Antigone and many of the people believed that since her brother was not buried, that the gods would not rest until his flesh was one with the earth. During the time that this was written, the gods played major roles in naturally occurring events and this idea carried over into Antigone’s and the people’s belief. Even though laws were in place and the people were happy to abide by them, the laws of the gods surpassed those of the state.

Antigone who in a sense becomes the people’s moral and spiritual leader, takes it upon herself to bury her brother. At this point in the play is where Antigone starts to show her persistence and her relentlessness to see her brothers natural right carried out. This action even though in her own mind is justice being served, is no better than her own dead brother’s, in the eye of the Creon and the state. The body is found buried by Creon’s men and is dug up, this saddens Antigone once again and she then attempts yet another time to bury him but this time she is caught in the act. Before Creon knows it is Antigone, his own chorus questions whether or not “it be the gods [who] have done this?”(DiYanni p.817) When Creon learns that it is not the actions of the gods and rather that of Antigone’s, he sentences her to death. When this happens people start to for tale disaster for the future. In order to take blame off of himself, instead of sentencing her straight to death, he has her holed up in a cave where she will starve to death and not die in the public eye. This obviously makes no sense and an old wise friend of Creon named Teiresias tells him that his own blood will perish if Antigone is not released. Haimon, Creon’s son ends up dying from a self-inflicted wound in honor of his dead lover, Antigone Creon learns to late that what he has done has lead to his own kin’s death. He also learns that ultimately the laws of the gods and the spiritual world run deeper than laws created by man. Even today laws are written to not offend the views that of any person but are still there to provide boundaries for us to conduct our daily lives within. Religion is always a touchy subject when it comes to the whole of man because not everyone practices but most everyone believes in some higher being. When being a spiritual animal, humans have basic essential believes especially when dealing with the dead. What happens to us after death is different for all of us but most people believe that we should exit this world with some showing of respect, this is usually done with some sort of ceremony. Ceremony’s for different religions may not be the same but the basic concept is. Creon was imposing his view upon not only Antigone but the whole society in which he governed. People even though they knew Polyneices was a traitor still did not want to upset the gods by not properly burying him.

Take what is even happening today for example, there are many known terrorists who are on trial for their lives. If they are found guilty of their charges they may be sent to death, but their bodies wont be left out for “No friend to pity him, [or for] his body [to be] shredded by dogs(DiYanni p.838). No matter how harsh someones crime may be, they are still givin the respect of a burial or however they want their body disposed of. So in the play, Antigone was just trying to do what she believed was the honorable thing to do and that was to give her brother a proper burial.

The values of loyalty, persistence, freedom to practice religion and to honor the dead were clearly carried out by Antigone. These basic values are still very strongly believed in, even in contemporary society. Today, with or without religion people still understand the importance of having clear cut devotion for the ones we love and to never waver with this devotion. And, to make sure our dead are seen to have an honorable closure to their lives. When these basic values were not upheld and carried out by Creon, this clearly was why Antigone who in today’s standards was more closely related to.

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