Antigone: Top Ten Quotes
- “There is no art that teaches us to know/ The temper, mind or spirit of any man/ Until he has been proved by government/ And lawgiving.” (lines 175-78).
Creon ironically says this to the Counsellors before he tells them his first law, forbidding the burial of Polyneices. He ultimately fails by his own test, for the very first law reveals his faulty character.
- “And if I have to die for this pure crime, I am content, for I shall rest beside him;/ His love will answer mine” (lines 72-74).
Antigone tells Ismene she is not afraid to die for the so-called crime of burying her brother. She would rather be with the dead brother she loves. She believes she will be vindicated by the gods, for the crime is “pure.”
- “Welcome, light of the Sun, the fairest/ Sun that ever has dawned upon/ Thebes, the city of seven gates!” (lines 100-102).
The Chorus sings an ode of victory after the battle between the brothers Polyneices and Eteocles for the throne of Thebes. The Argive army of Polyneices had been defeated, and so the elders of the city sing a thanksgiving hymn that their famous seven-gated city was saved. Their hymn becomes tragically ironic, for this day in Thebes will see the extinction of the ruling houses of Oedipus and Creon.
- “Wonders are many, yet of all/ Things is Man the most wonderful” (lines 332-33).
The Chorus sings this famous ode to human achievement. Human hands can perfect human life in so many ways; against death alone is man helpless.
- “disaster is linked with disaster./ Woe again must each generation inherit.” (lines 595-96).
Creon has just confronted Antigone, who boasts that she defied the decree and buried her brother. He gives the death sentence to her and to her sister Ismene. The Chorus sings sadly of the fate that dogs the whole house of Labdacus, the ancestor of Oedipus. In every generation, the curse strikes down another victim. There was hope for the fair Antigone, but now she follows the family fate.
- “No man alive is free/ From error” (lines 1023-24).
Teiresias, the prophet, warns Creon that he is making a mistake. Creon in his pride does not believe him at first.
- “O look upon me,/ The last that remain of a line of kings!/ How savagely impious men use me,/ For keeping a law that is holy” (lines 940-943).
Antigone says farewell to the citizens of Thebes as she is led to the cave where she will be buried alive. She claims, in spite of Creon’s declaring her a criminal, that she is innocent in upholding the divine law of burial. She becomes a martyr.
- “Folly is the worst of human evils” (line 1243).
The first messenger tells Queen Eurydice and the elders how Haemon killed himself in anger over Antigone’s death. The folly refers to Creon’s rash decree.
- “Too late, too late you see the path of wisdom” (line 1270).
The Chorus addresses the devastated Creon, who is alone after all his family has died through his mistake. This sentiment describes the fate of the tragic hero who gains knowledge through suffering.
- “From suffering that has been/ Decreed no man will ever find escape” (lines 1335-36).
The Chorus joins in lamenting with the king in the downfall of his house. The play ends with an emphasis on Fate, the decree of the gods that is more powerful than the decree of a king.