Antigone, Empress of Byzantium, and My Aunt

Antigone, Empress of Byzantium, and My Aunt

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Antigone, Empress of Byzantium, and My Aunt


I have very few heroes, but if I could pick three people who are heroic to me, I would have to choose Antigone from the tragic play Antigone by Sophocles, Theodora, Empress of Byzantium, and my own personal hero, my great aunt Alice. All of these women have had a profound effect on the world around them, and worked hard to shape the world as they saw fit, to protect their loved ones and those to whom they were and are loyal. My personal hero especially has had a profound effect on my upbringing and me. While I have few heroes, I will pick some people from the past, present, and literature to represent what I believe a hero should be.

The first hero is Antigone from the well-known Greek tragedy Antigone, written by Sophocles of an older Greek myth. Antigone was not only a hero, but also a martyr. She died for her cause; she died to save the honor and soul of her brother Polynices, even though he was a traitor. She defied the order of the main antagonist Creon, or Kreon, whose edict was that no one should bury Polynices body, or even mourn his passing. (Antigone) On the other hand, her other brother who had seized the thrown after Oedipus's passing, was buried with honor and as a hero. Antigone would not stand for this, as both her mother and father were dead, and thusly she would never have any other brothers ever again. She did not want either of her brothers bodies to be, "left as a corpse eaten by birds and dogs and torn to pieces, shameful for everyone to see," because this would bring more shame to her family then had already been brought by her father, who had killed his own father unknowingly and married his own mother. This is one reason that Antigone is dangerous and heroic, she remembers the past, unlike Creon, who unwittingly begins to repeat the mistakes of Oedipus in his reign, and Antigone uses this information as well as any sword master as a weapon against Creon. She knows that she will be put to death, however she faces up to that and defends her brother anyway, and is unafraid of the consequences. She even makes Creons orders seem shameful, putting them up in a classic rivalry between divine and human law, making it clear that the will of her gods is more important then life or death.

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This makes the people of Thebes more sympathetic to her, make them truly understand her plight, although none of them would dare come up against the will of their king Creon. Even though Antigone has no one, even though her own sister Ismene choice not to assist her in her brothers burial, Antigone keeps going, suicidal focused on her brother, almost incestuously so, as one line in the play states, she "will lie with the one she loves, loved by him," of Polynices. ("Analysis of Major Characters.") Antigone is my literary hero, because she tosses aside all other cares to treat her brother's body, as the gods would have it.

Theodora is one of my historic heroes. She helped promote women's rights through out her empire, passing laws favoring abortion and protecting divorced women, and also making it so women who committed adultery could not legally be stoned to death, as was the previous tradition. ("Theodora, Empress of Byzantium." 2004. ) She closed brothels, preventing some of the heavy prostitution and gambling that was occurring during the time of her rule. Not only did she have the respect and devotion of her people, but her own husband made her joint ruler of Byzantium, allowing her to shoulder a great deal of political responsibility and become, in essence, a ruler on her own. She even saved both their leaderships during a rebellion, forcing Justinian, her husband, to stay through a rebellion instead of fleeing as was advised. Theodora reached these great heights of achievement, despite poor and humble beginnings as a bear keeper’s daughter, and also as an actress. She worked in the hippodrome as a "slapstick comedian", who dazzled audiences with her ability to dodge the many comedic blows without being fazed. Justinian fell in love with her despite the law against high-class citizens marrying people of low birth. The emperor at the time changed the law to accommodate his heir's marriage, he himself having married a slave, who died shortly before the law was passed. (Deihl, Charles.) Theodora has become my historic hero through her work to preserve women's rights and her amazing advancements, and her own ruler ship of Byzantium.

My personal hero has had a great and immense effect on my life. My great aunt Alice has helped me and my family through many rough times, through her financial and emotional support for many years. She helped me through the very beginning of my life, caring for me through almost the first full year of my infancy while my mother was in the hospital with blood clots and complications involving my birth >>. Not only that, but during the first five or six years of my life I stayed at her apartment, developing my imagination, because she only had basic cable television, which was not a bad thing, because I learned how to make my own entertainment. I never had too much interaction with children my own age, so by the time I was three or four I could pretty much speak clearly and had a great vocabulary, thanks to my great aunt. She never babied me, or tried to talk me down in anyway, but always treated me as an equal with my own thoughts and ideas, supporting my creativity by supplying me with any art supplies I happened to need. As the years went by, she also supported my love of horses, paying for seven years of equestrian lessons, and finally, boarding fees for my own horse. She worked her whole life as a nurse, and taught nursing, but was retired just a few years before I was born. She has always tried to help people who she felt needed it, and has never faltered in her support, even through her old age. Now my aunt is about eighty years old, and she still volunteers at Wilson hospital, working in the hospital sweet shop, or gift shop, still trying to be an avid member of society, and still trying to help as many people as she can. My aunt is a hero to me because she always tries to help her family and friends, no matter the cost to herself.

Antigone, Theodora, and my great aunt Alice are all heroes in my eyes. They all managed to do great things with their lives, long and short as they were and are respectively. These women devoted their lives to a cause, and have never given up on it, from fiction, past, and present, these women influence my life and make me strive to do better, strive to achieve more then others believe is possible. These most certainly heroic women all influence me in great ways.


Works Cited

"Analysis of Major Characters." 2003. Barnes and Noble. 23 Feb. 2004 .

Deihl, Charles. Theodora, Empress of Byzantium. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1972.

Sophocles. Antigone. Trans. Reginald Gibbons and Charles Segal. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

"Theodora, Empress of Byzantium." 2004. About. 23 Feb. 2004 .
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