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Historical Context of Antigone

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Charlotte Fowler

on 10 October 2013

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Transcript of Historical Context of Antigone

Historical Context of Antigone
Antigone
Antigone is the third play in Sophocles' "Theban" trilogy.
The trilogy is based off the Saga of the house of Laius
Sophecles' other plays in this trilogy are;
Oedipus the King
Oedipus at Colonus
Antigone's heritage
Antigone was the daughter of Oedipus and Jacosta
Her father Oedipus was the ex-king of Thebes (at the time of the play) who unwitting killed his father and married his mother.
Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus depict the woes of Oedipus
Pre-play Context
In the play Antigone buries her dead brother, Polynices,
When Oedipus found out about his patercide and incest. he stepped down as king of Thebes.
He then gave the throne to his sons, Etocles and Polynices, who agree to alternate the throne each year, but show little concern for their father.
Angered by this Oedipus curses them to kill the other in battle
After his first year Etocles refuses to step down and in retailiation Polynices attacks Thebes - this is the betrayal Creon says Polynices commited.
Context of Themes
Antigone is unusual as a main character as she is an outspoken woman.
At the time Antigone was written, Sophelcles ran the risk that the play would not be popular as it is probable that only men went to the theatre
Greek Historical context
In 450/449 BC Athens signed a peace treaty named the Peace of Callias with Persia.
However from 449-448 Athens had the Second Sacred War with Sparta.

Aftermath of Antigone
Antigone was first performed in either 443 or 441BC,
shortly after the play was released Sophecles was appointed as one of ten generals to lead a military expedition against Samos.
Antigone is unusual as it contains little political propaganda.
This is surprising given sophocles' rank in a time of great imperialism
The philosopher Aristole stated that; "It is not appropriate in a female character to be manly and clever."
The reflects the opinion of women in Athens at the time.
Sophecles challenges this statement with Antigone as she is both manly, by way that she takes up the role of the man in her family. and that she is clever as she performs just enough to satisfy the gods but not so much she risks getting caught
The popularity of Antigone as a play may have led to Sophecles' election as general
Full transcript