The 5th century Greek play Antigone written by Sophocles, explores the plight of a young woman named Antigone who rebels against man’s authority to bury her brother her dead brother. Her actions lead herself and several others to their death, while Creon is left in anguish for his mistakes. Today, several people would look upon Antigone and believe that it is an exhilarating, entertaining play – the issues presented in the play are commonplace in today’s society; such as putting god’s will first before man’s will, and to put away stubbornness and cultivate good traits, essentially making the play understandable and realistic.
However, this is the reason why plays like Antigone, are not written purely for entertainment purposes, but to develop upright moral standards and principles, which Sophocles conveys through his central themes. Through the use of his themes, Sophocles explores moral issues evident in 5th century Greek society – although it can easily relate to today’s modern society as well. It is essential to realise that in 5th century Greek society, theatre was not considered as entertainment in Athens.
Rather, drama was a regular part of religious life in the city – theatrical performances were thought to be as an act of worship; namely, honouring the god Dionysus. The spectators of the play viewed the performances as vital moral lessons; they came expecting to hear life’s most serious problems being discussed. It is important to understand this – as the problems discussed in Antigone were speculated in society at the time. Sophocles explores the problems by the use of his themes.
There are two primary themes that Sophocles bases his play upon, which encompass the moral and principle lessons of the story. This would include, the conflicting demands of the divinely appointed and man, and raising one’s self to god-like proportions. And the being the Hubris (extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance) and the consequences associated with it. These themes developed the conflict in Antigone, and allowed the audience in the 5th century to relate the problems in their lives to the problems in the play.