Antigone vs. Iliad

Antigone vs. Iliad

Love is a very powerful emotion. In both Antigone and The Iliad there are many different types of love portrayed. The love one has for their child for example, or the love for a close family member or friend. There is also the love one experiences when they feel they have found their mate in life. In examining the excerpts from Antigone and The Iliad I was able to draw the conclusion that Antigone portrays the different types of love in a more realistic way. When I read The Iliad for the first time the portrayal of love that stood out the most to me was the love Priam had for his son Hector.

Priam being the king of Troy risked his life by walking onto the enemy’s war camp in order to beg the man that killed his son for the rights to his body. “Pity me in my own right, remember your own father! I deserve more pity… I have endured what no one on earth has ever done before- I put my lips to the hands of the man who killed my son” (83). I didn’t find this portrayal of love realistic because it is my opinion that a king wouldn’t commit such a selfish deed such as risk his life purposefully in those times.

The king would have considered his people and his kingdom and how much he was needed instead of his own selfish grief over a dead son. Similarly the portrayal of love in Antigone that was more realistic to me was the love Antigone felt for her brother Polynices. She loved her brother enough to risk her life in order to give him a proper burial ceremony. “My deeds will please who they are meant to please” (92). One of the reasons this seems more realistic to me over The Iliad was that Antigone didn’t feel any sort of responsibility for anyone but herself.

She didn’t have a kingdom to watch over or children to tend. Also, the only person Antigone was defying by giving her brother his burial rights was her uncle Creon (the king). “He has no right to keep me from my own” (92). In my opinion, Antigone figured Creon would take it easy on her because she was family. “But a king has many advantages, he can do or say what he pleases” (93). Another example of love I found while reading The Iliad was the love Achilles had for his cousin Patroclus (his cousin). Achilles felt he had lost someone very close to his heart.

Achilles also felt that Patroclus had been killed in an unfair manner. Achilles felt Hector should have been punished for the wrongful death of Patroclus even though the boy had Achilles armor on and Hector thought he was fighting Achilles at the time. Achilles had the mindset that Hector should have known better than to go up against a boy. The portrayal of Achilles in the scene where he is told about Patrocluses death is what moved the story more toward fiction for me. Achilles had to have his moment of stricken grief that was extremely over exaggerated. A black cloud of grief came shrouding over Achilles. Both hands clawing the ground for soot and filth, he poured it over his head, fouled his handsome face and black ashes settled onto his fresh clean war-shirt. Overpowered in all his power, he sprawled in the dust. Achilles lay there, fallen” (82). In reality a grown man would not act like this especially a part god warrior. The fit Achilles threw is something a child would do. I found his behavior very unlikely and unrealistic. In contrast, Antigone had many similarities in the story to The Iliad.

For example, Antigone’s love for her brother was also that of someone who is very close to your heart. Another similarity I found was that Antigone felt her brother had been treated in an unfair manner when he was denied proper burial rights. The story of Antigone seemed more realistic to me by the way she is portrayed handling her brothers death. Antigone was upset about not being able to give her brother proper burial rights and she by no means tried to hide what she was doing but she didn’t have a fit. She had a moment of grief then went straight to work fixing what she felt was wrong. And when, after a long while, the storm passed, we saw this girl, and she crying aloud with the sharp cry of a bird in it’s grief; the way a bird will cry when it sees the nest bare and the nestlings gone, it was the way she lifted up her voice when she saw the corpse uncovered; and she called down dreadful curses on those that did it. Then straightaway she scooped up dust in her hands, and she had a shapely ewer of bronze, and she held that high while she honored the dead with three drink-offerings” (95).

In conclusion, both Antigone and The Iliad had many portrayals of love and many types of love in the excerpts I read but Antigone had more truth and realism in it than The Iliad. Antigone loved her brother, grieved and then did what she felt she must regardless of the consequences she knew were to come. Priam acted selfishly and out of character for a king in this time period and Achilles acted like a woman instead of a part god warrior. The story of Antigone in my opinion, is something that could have actually happened during the time period but I have a hard time believing the events in The Iliad took place at all.