In the Antigone, unlike the Oedipus Tyrannus, paradoxically, the hero who is left in agony at the end of the play is not the title role. Instead King Creon, the newly appointed and tyrannical ruler, is left all alone in his empty palace with his wife's corpse in his hands, having just seen the suicide of his son. However, despite this pitiable fate for the character, his actions and behavior earlier in the play leave the final scene evoking more satisfaction than pity at his torment. The way the martyr Antigone went against the King and the city of Thebes was not entirely honorable or without ulterior motives of fulfilling pious concerns but it is difficult to lose sight of the fact that this passionate and pious young woman was condemned to living imprisonment.
The crux of the play, the causal factor to all the following events is how the new King Creon deals with the dead traitor Polynices, brother of Antigone. The decree not to bury the corpse must be considered from the viewpoint of a 5th Century Athenian, watching this play. The Antigone was written during a time of great strife for the city of Athens and they were in the middle of their conflict with the Spartans. At a time such as this , concern for the city was foremost in a citizen's mind. Creon's decree not to bury him at this stage then is right. Essentially not burying a body, any body, is an offence to the gods, and the persons spirit will not be able to go down to the underworld and cross the River Styx and Archeron. However, the Greeks believed that for some the sentence was deserved. The sentence of non-burial is appropriate in this case, as the Greeks believed that "those convicted of sa...
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... of his heart. He is left as the sole survivor of his own carnage but the undeniable fact remains that without his actions, all the deaths would have been averted and he has no one to blame but himself.
Murray, Robert D. Jr. "Sophocles Moral Themes." In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.
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
Woodard, Thomas. Introduction. In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
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