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Heroism entails several things; a selfless act, courage, or the accomplishments of bold and daring expeditions. A hero can also mean courage in the face of death. Others may view this type of hero as stupid, or a martyr. Every hero has faults and these faults along with heroic deeds make the man or woman; a hero, heroine.
"Antigone" would be considered a hero in the sense of being a martyr. Because of her love for her family Antigone wanted to give her brother a proper burial, and even though he did evil deeds, she respected him. She believed that all of the dead were in a state of equality. When faced with the decision to obey the King or obey her heart, she says on page 23, in lines 86-90:
“I will bury him myself./If I die for doing that, good:/I will stay with him, brother;/and my crime will be devotion.”
This decision, to bury her brother, was very heroic in that even though she knew death was at stake, she knew where her loyalties lied.
On page 39, lines 560-575, Antigone stands up to her uncle and tells him to his face that he has disobeyed the Gods decrees. In line 562, 563, and 564 she says:
“I did not intend to pay, before the gods,/for breaking these laws/because of my fear of one man and his principles.”
Antigone accuses Kreon of overstepping the laws of the gods, by relying on his own thinking. As is brought out later, Kreon never listened to other peoples advice until it was too late. In the above passage Antigone heroically faces up to the most powerful man, the King, knowing he could kill her in an instance, but still she tells him he is wrong.
Being strongly tied to a family, where you would risk death is one thing, but as in any family a person usually takes their anger and frustrations out on individual family members, as in this passage on page 24, lines 100-103:
“Then weakness will be your plea./I am different. I love my brother/and I’m going to bury him, now.”
Antigone, non-heroically, accuses Ismene of not loving her brother, but of course Ismene loved her brother, Ismene was just afraid of the king. Antigone, in the heat of the moment, took Ismene’s frightened state as a sign of the lack of love on Ismene’s part.
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On page 39, lines 550-558, Antigone accuses King Kreon that his decisions were contrary to what the Gods laid out. Antigone says in lines 551, and 554:
“that Zeus was the one who had proclaimed;/. . . The laws they have made for men are well marked out.”
Antigone should have realized, as she stated, the laws they, the gods, have made for men are well marked out, and if she had allowed the gods to correct matters she would not have needed to confront the king. Her unfaithfulness toward the gods was very non-heroic.
In modern society, we today act in the same manner as Antigone did toward her family. Our loyalties toward family members tend to be strong, but even so, we may take our anger out on the people we love. In all heroic tales we usually can see ourselves in the situations of the heroic and non-heroic aspects of characters and relate to them wholeheartedly. It seems that the writers of old had a good grasp of the human condition, and it seems that their main goal was to make us realize who we really are.