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Antigone

By Sophocles (5)

Injustice and impiety are punished resoundingly in Sophocles’ great tragic drama Antigone. Of Oedipus’s four children, sons Polyneices and Eteocles have died in battle, while their anguished sisters, Antigone and Ismene, mourn them. Creon, ruler of Thebes, delivers the cruel and sacrilegious command that Polyneices remain unburied, his body to become prey for wild animals. Only Antigone dares to disobey Creon, and receives a harsh sentence. She is engaged to marry Creon’s son, Haemon, and despite Haemon’s argument for leniency, Creon refuses to be moved. The wise seer, Teieresias, warns Creon that his own punishment will be the loss of a child, but before Creon can grant Antigone a reprieve, a messenger arrives with the terrible news that both Haemon and Antigone have killed themselves. Creon recognizes his own hand in their dreadful fate, while the Chorus explains that while the gods punish the proud, great blows are a way to wisdom. Students who wish to learn more about Greek thought and drama might also read the other two works in the Oedipus cycle, Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus.

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