Essay on Oikos and polis

Essay on Oikos and polis

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In Sophocles' Antigone, the dilemma between nomos of the city and nomos of the home divides blood relatives and causes an inevitable conflict. Kreon, Thebes’ ruler, supports nomos of the states and honors polis before oikos. In contrast, Antigone promotes blood ties of oikos and divine laws that govern the dead. Kreon punishes Antigone for carrying out her duty to Polyneikes, and in doing so, he presents a different perspective and reversed order of priorities. In Antigone, polis and oikos depend on one another and share a symbiotic relationship. Since both are unstable, they cannot exist by themselves without problems. This, in turn with Kreon's stubbornness, leads to an untenable encounter.
Antigone respects her blood relations, and she is driven by this to oppose the laws created by Kreon. Even though she recognizes the sin in which Oidipous bequeaths upon his kin, she refuses to abandon her brother is determined to "not be caught betraying him" (Sophocles, 58). Kreon's man made laws cannot "keep [her] from [her] own," and in this she accepts the blood line of her doomed oikos. Furthermore, Antigone justifies herself by honoring her brother above other relationships that she is capable of producing. Antigone states that she "would never have assumed this burden...if it had been [her] children or [her] husband who had died...no more brothers could ever be born- This was the law by which [she] honored [Polyneikes] above all others" (966-77). Using this reasoning, the death of Antigone’s brother means extinction of the blood line and proper burial is still needed, even if it the traitor was Eteokles. Antigone's breach of nomos is a necessary one, for the dead cannot be revived and must be honored, especially those that en...


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In Antigone, oikos and polis are dependent on each other. However, the nature of both are conflicting, so that problems will arise, and even more so when there is an unyielding ruler who vehemently honors one and close-mindedly severs the other. The clash between Antigone’s priority to oikos and Kreon’s opposing priority to polis affected nomos, while producing a locus of catastrophe. Due to Kreon’s stubbornness and consequent neglect of the oikos, his household is destroyed and his city is left in chaos. As a ruler, he was insecure about his throne, and this led him to disbelieve Antigone and Haimon. Kreon prioritized polis above oikos, but in the end, oikos emerges as the factor in determining the fate of the city. Kreon’s intention was to protect the city, but in the aftermath, he only continued the tainted blood that runs deeply in the oikos of Oedipus.

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