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Transcript of Antigone
The prologue takes place in King Creon's palace in Thebes, on the dawn after the Argive army attacked. Antigone, a woman in ancient Greece, enters with her sister Ismene talking about their uncles newest decree. It says that their brother, one of the two who died fighting each other, is to be left unburied to be torn apart by the birds and dogs. Anyone who tries to bury him will be publicly executed. Antigone is outraged by this news, but her cautious sister Ismene tries to calm her and says not ignore the kings orders. Antigone doesn't understand why her sister would sit by while their brother is being wrongfully punished and disobey the gods wishes. Their other brother Eteocles was buried with a soldiers funeral and given military honors. Ismene thinks Antigone is crazy and refuses to help her. Antigone claims that she isn't afraid of the danger and that she is going to carry out the plan to bury Polyneices.
Haimon, Creon's son and Antigone's lover, tries to persuade his father to release Antigone from the charges placed upon her. He argues that Antigone deserves to be honored for burying her brother in an honorable manner and threatens to commit suicide if Creon executes her. Creon, however, brushes away Haimon's pleas and scolds him for staying loyal to his traitorous fiance. Choragos, Creon's adviser, advises Creon to listen to his son and Haimon to listen to his father. At the end, Creon decides to spare the life of Ismene, Antigone's sister, but lock Antigone herself in a prison until her death.
Teiresias, the blind prophet, enters with a young boy leading the way. His fortune-telling birds were acting up and he understands this as the Gods' anger. Teiresias tells Creon that he is making unwise decisions and that it would be best to bury Polynices regardless of his proclamation; otherwise he will suffer greatly. Creon is not moved to change until the very end, after Choragos mentions that Teiresias has never been wrong before. Creon instructs Choragos to gather servants to start building Polynices's grave but by then it is too late.
In scene one of Antigone, her brothers, Polynices and Eteocles have killed each other in battle. Since Polynices broke his exile to fight his brother, he is known as a traitor. Since the only heirs to the throne are dead, only Creon is left to become king. He is Oedipus's uncle and brother-in-law. King Creon then decrees than anyone who buries Polynices would be punished by death. When Antigone finds out the king's orders she thought it was wrong that her brother couldn't have a proper burial like her other brother. Despite Creon's decree, Antigone gives him a proper burial ceremony. A sentry notices that the body has been covered with dust and reports it to the king.
In scene two of Antigone Creon finds out that Antigone was the one who buried his nephew, and her brother, Polyneices. Ismene, Antigones sister tries to take some of the blame for burying her brother. Antigone is appalled by this, and won't let Ismene take fault in burying her brother. Antigone thinks that when she buried her brother she was serving the gods wishes and doesn't think Ismene deserves credit for this. Creon, with advice from Choragos decides not to punish Ismene, but he does punish Antigone.
Scene four begins when Antigone is brought in front of Creon. Antigone asks all to see her as a woman about to die, and curses her father/brother's crime for her death. Throughout the entire scene, Antigone speaks pitiful about her fate. The Chorus responds to her by pointing out that it was her own actions which led her to this fate. Choragos finds pity in his heart for Antigone but knows that it is too late for her. Creon, however, is impatient and unforgiving, and orders her to her vault.
In this last scene, Messenger walks into the castle and tells Choragos that Antigone hung herself and Haimon had killed himself out of grief while Creon and his servants had been building Polyneices' grave. Messenger stated that he was "driven mad by the murder his father had done." Just as the Messenger tells Choragos this, Eurydice, the queen, walks in and asks to hear the news. Messenger tells her everything he knows about this and she leaves without saying a word; the Messenger follows. Creon enters already distressed and feeling guilty about Haimon's death when the Messenger returns with news that Eurydice stabbed herself. At this point, Creon feels truly remorseful and regrets his choices. He wishes for pity from the gods and to live no longer.
About the Play
- Written by Sophocles in 441 BC
- Takes place in the castle in Thebes
- Major Characters: Theban Elders (Chorus) , Antigone, Ismene, Creon, Choragos, Eurydice, Haimon, Teiresias, Messenger
About the Play cont.
- the right to reject infringements
God's or man's law
- Which law is greater? Sophocles votes for the law of the gods
Citizenship vs. Family Loyalty
- Obey the state or your family