Ideologies of Antigone
The Ideologies of Antigone When first reading Sophocles’ “Antigone,” one might just think of a family torn apart over a sister’s bad decision to defy the King. However, given a closer look much more is revealed throughout the play. Several of the principles explored in “Antigone” are rules and order, and determination. The notion of rules and order are a focal theme throughout the play. The central purpose is obviously the relation of the law which has its sanction in political authority and the law which has its sanction in the private conscience, the relation of the obligations imposed on human beings as citizens and members of the state, and the obligations imposed on them in the home and as members of families” (Collins). Creon, as the King, was attempting to fulfill his commitment as a ruler by issuing the edict to refuse Polyneices a proper burial. Creon believed in upholding the law and his right as the King to exercise his power.
This becomes evident when he says, “These are my principles, at any rate, and that is why I have made the following decision concerning the sons of Oedipus: Eteocles, who died as a man should die, fighting for his country, is to buried with full military honors, with all the ceremony that is usual when the greatest heroes die; but his brother Polyneices, who broke his exile to come back with fire and sword against his native city and the shrines of his fathers’ gods, whose one idea was to spill the blood of his blood and sell his own people into slavery-Polyneices, I say, is to have no burial: no man is to touch him or say the least prayer for him; he shall lie on the plain, unburied; and the birds and the scavenging dogs can do with him whatever they like (Sophocles 1208). Even though Creon’s punishment for Polyneices was harsh, he felt justified in doing so because of his responsibility as King. Creon wanted to exert his authority and use Polyneices as an example so that his subjects would understand his devotion towards leading a kingdom where he would be the dictator and his every order would be followed.
This becomes obvious when Creon states, “I am aware, of course, that no Ruler can expect complete loyalty from his subjects until he has been tested in office (Sophocles 1207). Antigone, unlike Creon, was not motivated by the law of the land or a sense of duty to be a loyal subject and conform to authority. Antigone was driven because she felt that the law of the Gods superseded any manmade law Creon handed down and that her Gods would find Polyneices deserving of a proper burial. You are made aware of this when she says’ “Your edict, King, was strong, But all your strength is weakness itself against The immortal unrecorded laws of God(Sophocles 1213). “They are not merely now: they were, and shall be, Operative for ever, beyond man utterly(Sophocles1213). Antigone was also incredibly inspired by her deep love and admiration for her brother and her loyalty and devotion towards having one of her family members laid to rest in peace. Antigone felt responsible as Polyneices’ sister to defend his honor at any cost and ensure he would receive the appropriate burial ceremony. Her determination becomes clear when Antigone says to Ismene, “He is my brother. And he is your brother, too (Sophocles 1205). Ismene replies, “But think of the danger! Think of what Creon will do(Sophocles 1205)! Antigone responds, “Creon is not strong enough to stand in my way (Sophocles 1205).
Although Creon and Antigone clearly disagreed, they were both unwavering from completing their resolution. They were both very driven by their sense of duty to fulfill what they thought were the correct rules and order. Antigone’s and Creon’s determination was heroic. Creon was compelled by his authoritative position and as a member of the state and Antigone was motivated by her sense of duty as a loving sister and by her faithfulness to what she thought her Gods would want her to do. Works Cited Collins, J. C. “The Ethics of Antigone. ” TheatreHistory. com. Web. 10 Mar. 2011 http://www. theatrehistory. com/ Sophocles “Antigone” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Writing. Eleventh Edition. 11th ed. New York: Pearson, 2010.