Ipheigeneia and Antigone are Women Of Honor

Ipheigeneia and Antigone are Women Of Honor

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Women of Honor
In the world, there exist people who have beliefs strong enough that they are willing do die for them. Their convictions may be for their country, their family, or their religion. Some people chose to die for their beliefs while others are just objects of fate and die because of their beliefs while in the hands of others. For example, American soldiers don't often chose to die. They die because they are standing up for what they believe in and are killed because they are protecting what they believe in. They know they can potentially die but don't take their own lives. On the other hand, suicide bombers offer themselves fully as they kill themselves for their beliefs. People have been standing up and fighting for their beliefs for centuries in order to defend and protect their valued views. If they die protecting their sentiments, then they have died noble deaths. In Greek Literature, two women face their fates of dying by defending what they believe in. Ipheigeneia loves her father and in order to win the Trojan War, she must be sacrificed. She resists her fate at first but as expected she allows her father to do the necessary. Ipheigeneia is sacrificed. Additionally, Antigone faces her fate defending her brother Polyneices. He was murdered by his own brother; however, he was considered a traitor since he returned from exile and therefore was not allowed be buried properly. Antigone felt as his sister she must give him the proper burial. Kreon -the king of Thebes- was furious and sentenced her to death Later, he changes his decision but it is too late as she has taken her own life. These young, brave women are obviously similar while maintaining differences in their deaths.
Iphigeneia at Aulis and Antigone are very important writings in Greek Literature. Both involve a young women who dies in hopes of helping others. Antigone and Iphigeneia believe that they are dying for noble causes. The two brave women die for love. Their loves; however, vary. Both are sacrifices in a sense as they both die for a cause. They give their lives so that others can maintain their honor. Antigone realizes the importance of remaining loyal to family and she will maintain her dignity and states " It will not be the worst of deaths - death without honor" (p.

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140, 82-83). Antigone's death is a result of her disobeying the king. Her brother was considered a traitor and Kreon said "No one shall bury him, no one mourn for him," (p. 139, 20). However, she felt so strongly that she risked her life to give him a proper burial. Accordingly, she states "But I will bury him; and if must die, I say that this crime is holy:" (p. 140, 55-56). She was not murdered but did take her own life rather than facing terrible consequences. Iphigeneia desires to maintain the honor of her father and in the larger picture, the entire country of Greece. Agamemnon states that according to the prophet Kalchas, "Iphigeneia, my daughter, must be sacrificed to Artemis, the deity of this place" (119-121). Kalchas told her father Agamemnon that she must be sacrificed in order for the Greek ships to leave Aulis and to continue on to Troy. Honor was thus restored to Polyneices and Agamemnon and Greece through both women's actions. Both Antigone and Iphigeneia's fate was determined by them accepting what needed to be done. Antigone knew that her brother deserved to be buried and thus she is punished although not killed. She was, however, sentenced to death. Iphigeneia acknowledged that she needed to be sacrificed. Iphigeneia states to her mother
"All these good things I can win by dying.
Because of me, Greece
will be free, and my name will be blessed there" (1859-1861).
Furthermore, both women are in a sense sacrifices as both die for what they believed despite differences in their deaths. Antigone sacrifices herself as she knows there will be consequences since she disobeyed the king. It is as if she is a gift to her brother because she will be punished as she defended her brother's honor. Iphigeneia is similar in that she is a gift when she is sacrificed. She is a gift from her father and mother to the entire country of Greece. From her death, the country of Greece is able to continue fighting the Trojan War as the prophecy said
"sacrifice your daughter to Artemis
and the Greek ships will
be able to sail" (428-230).
As glorious as the deaths were, both women were mourned. Iphigeneia was mourned by her mother and her false fiancé Achilles. Antigone was mourned by her fiancé Haimon, the son of the king. It is evident that both Antigone and Iphigeneia share similarities in their deaths; however, many difference exist between the two occurrences.
No two situations are exactly the same. This is extremely true in the stories of Iphigeneia and Antigone. Both women were fated to die; however, how the deaths occur are different. Antigone's suicide was not premeditated and perhaps was even spontaneous as there is no part in the novel where it is stated that she herself planned to take her life. Antigone only acknowledges that she will die in Kreon's hand as she exclaims to Kreon "lead me to my vigil" (p152-51). She openly speaks that she is not afraid to die. On the other hand, Iphegeneia's death was pre planned. Her father Agamemnon was told by Kalchas that his daughter must be sacrificed in order for the Greek army to set sail again. It was clear that it was thought out as he writes a letter to his wife asking for Iphigeneia to come to Aulis. In the letter it states that she is to marry Achilles. However, in reality, there is not to be a wedding but instead a sacrifice. How the women react to the situations varies as well. Antigone accepted her fate from the very beginning as she knows that burying her brother is most likely going to cost her her life. Antigone from the start knows that honor will follow her death. On the other hand, Iphigeneia first fights her fate but later accepts it as she realizes that she will die with glory. She first cries out to her father and pleads
"Do not send me
into death before my time. It is sweet to see
the light" (1635-1638).
The deaths also had different effects on people. Antigone's death was self-sacrifice and maintained the honor of only her brother and herself. Meanwhile, Iphegeneia's death maintained her father's glory and the glory of Greece. Furthermore, the lasting effects of the women's death varied. Iphegeneia's had a positive
effect as her sacrifice allowed the Greek army to continue onward in their battle. The Trojan War was later won by the Greeks. On the other hand, Antigone's death had more of a negative effect. The king lost both his son and wife due to her death. After Antigone killed herself, her fiancé Haimon also took his life out of despair. From the lost of Haimon his mother Eurydice also took her own life. Her death alone caused two more deaths. Kreon was left alone and sorrowfully cries
"I have been rash and
I have killed my son and wife" (p158, 133-135).
However, she was able to maintain the honor of her brother and thus her death was not solely negative. Each death can be viewed differently. Iphegeneia's death would probably be viewed as more glorious than Antigone's. Iphigeneia gave her life in order for Greece to maintain its honor. Because of her death, the Greek army could continue onward in there quest to conquer Troy. After her death, it is clear that the prophecy has been fulfilled as "The army is preparing to sail" (2177). She helped more than one person. Antigone's death more than likely could be viewed in a more negative context. She took her own life. Her suicide could be seen as an escape from dealing with the consequences of disobeying her king. Suicide is often viewed in today's culture as cowardly. However, she was willing to potentially face death when she buried her brother. Each woman was glorious in her death as they were willing to give a sacrifice for others.
Some people are destined to live glorious lives while others are destined to die glorious deaths. People often die glorious deaths when they are defending and protecting their beliefs. Their beliefs are strong and important to them. The beliefs can involve their country, their family, or their religion. Two women in Greek literature were so strong in their convictions that they willingly gave their lives to help others. Antigone gave her life after her brother Polyneices was forbidden a proper burial. She was sentenced to death, but instead took her own life. Her death gave honor to herself and her brother. On the other hand, Iphigeneia gave her life to maintain the honor of herself, her father, and her country Greece. She fought against her fate in the beginning but later realized that she would die a glorious death and would help fulfill a prophecy. When she was sacrificed, she allowed the Greek army to set sail again on the quest for Troy. Neither of these women were selfish as they gave their lives in order to help the people they loved the most. Antigone and Iphigeneia offered themselves as sacrifices. Both women had similarities in their deaths but significant differences also existed. Antigone faced her fate from the beginning while Iphigenia first fought it. Antigone took her own life with her own hands. Iphigeneia offered her life but did not take her life with her own hands. Iphigeneia and Antigone offered their valuable lives so that others could maintain their honor. These women thus died a death of honor and glory.

Works Cited
Euripides. Iphigeneia at Aulis. Trans. W.S. Merwin and George E. Dimock, Jr. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1978.
Sophocles. "Antigone." Jacobus, Lee A. The Bedford Introduction to Drama. 3rd Ed. Boston:
Bedford Books, 1997.
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