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Antigone: Introduction and Background

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Bianca R

on 9 December 2015

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Transcript of Antigone: Introduction and Background

Greek Tragedy
By Sophocles
Oedipus Rex-Overview
What do you already know about Oedipus?
Born to Jocasta and Laius
Prophecy: Oedipus will kill father and marry mother
Preventative measures: Feet bound and taken to woods to die
Not left to die - taken to Corinth
Raised by King Polybus
Learns of prophecy and runs away
Runs into traffic, kills a man (worse case of road rage ever)
Arrives in Thebes to serious trouble
Thebes is terrorized by the Sphinx
The person who can answer the sphinx's riddle can become king of Thebes
What animal has four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening?
The Sphinx's Riddle

Our story begins at the start of Creon's reign
Oedipus becomes king of Thebes
Marries Jocasta and fathers several children
Oedipus complex - Theorized by Freud
Young boys compete with father for mother's attention
Common understanding: boys want to kill father and marry mother
Theory may seem laughable, but real concern to Freud and ancient Greeks
Thebes with Oedipus in Charge
A plague descends on Thebes
The cause: a murderer walks free
Oedipus swears to find the culprit and punish him
Oedipus' history is revealed and his evil deeds brought to light
Jocasta (his mother bride) hangs herself
Oedipus gouges his eyes out
This leaves Thebes without a king...
Eteoclies and Polynices decided to share throne
Etoclies not the sharing type
Banishes brother who returns to win back throne
The brothers die in battle against each other
Creon takes the throne
He has buried Eteocles with funerary honors
Polynices is left unburied were he lay
Antigone, against Creon's orders, plots to bury her brother
Things to know...
Oedipus' wrong-doing still looms for his children

Antigone is engaged to Creon's son, Haemon

If left unburied, Polynices' life and body will be dishonored

If Antigone buries her brother, she faces death

The Greeks believed in fate - the Gods were in control
Remember Oedipus' attempt to run away from his fate

Typically warned of fate
Questions to consider while reading...
Are laws black and white - a clear distinction between right and wrong?

Who gets to make the rules?

Should one always the rules?

Can anyone escape their fate? Or is there such thing as fate?

How did this story contribute to Greek cultural identity? What about modern cultural identity?
Note: Laius has gone away and has mysteriously not returned
Unbeknownst to Oedipus, he kills the sitting king of Thebes
Greek Theater
What do you already know about tragedy and/or Greek Theater?
Tragedy - a drama with melancholy themes, usually told in verse
Ending is tragic, people die
It's a drama, a play, a performance; not just a sad story

The Ancient Greeks and Theater
At height during 5th century BCE
That's Before Common Era
Technically in the midst Axial Age
Greek tragedies deal almost exclusively with mythic past
Theater major part of Greek culture
Told the stories of major myths
Celebrated the Gods, especially Dionysus
The People:
Produced important literary philosophy defending drama(Aristotle)
Enjoyed theorizing about first tragedian - Thespis
Held contests for best drama (ancient Oscars?)
Some Names Associated with Greek Tragedy
Sophocles (author of Antigone)
dramatist born around 496 BCE; known for "Antigone," "Oedipus Rex"
Contemporary of Sophocles; beat Sophocles in drama competition with "Oresteia"
Major Greek philosopher during 4th Century; wrote Poetics, a defense and philosophical theory of literature
Major Locations
Technical Terms
Orchestra - the stage. Greek dramas were performed in the round.
Chorus - group of singers. Represent larger group and narrates.
Parts of the play
Prolog- provides background
Parodos- entering song sung by chorus
Episode- a scene
Ode- sung by chorus between each scene
Exodos- resolves action, usually contains words of wisdom
"It's Greek to Me" Discussion
What is Foster's main point and how does he develop that point?
Why is myth significant? Do you have to be religious for it to be important?
What does it mean to be "Western" and how does it effect our cultural identity?
What is myth? Why is it significant to our cultural heritage? Are myths shared?
Why do writers use myths? Inspiration?
Carl Jung and his Archetypes
The collective unconscious of shared experiences
Humans share prototypical ideas
It is psychologically inherited from generation to generation
Unlearned and deeply engrained
Expression of archetypes in myth, literature. Used continuously for deep appeal
Full transcript