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Antigone in front of the dead Polyneices by Nikiforos Lytras 1865

In Greek mythology, Antigone (/ænˈtɪɡəni/ ann-TIG-ə-nee; Ancient Greek: Ἀντιγόνη) is the daughter of Oedipus and his mother Jocasta. The meaning of the name is, as in the case of the masculine equivalent Antigonus, "worthy of one's parents" or "in place of one's parents".

Contents

In SophoclesEdit

 
Genealogy of Antigone

Oedipus RexEdit

Antigone and her sister Ismene are seen at the end of Oedipus Rex as Oedipus laments the "shame" and "sorrow" he is leaving his daughters to. He then begs Creon to watch over them, but in his grief reaches to take them with him as he is lead away. Creon prevents him from taking the girls out of the city with them. Neither of them are named in the play. [1]

Oedipus at ColonusEdit

Antigone serves as her father's guide in Oedipus at Colonus, as she leads him into the city where the play takes place. She stays with her father for the majority of the play, until she is taken away by Creon in an attempt to blackmail Oedipus into returning to Thebes. However, Theseus defends Oedipus and rescues both Antigone and her sister who was also taken prisoner.

At the end of the play both Antigone and her sister mourn the death of their father. Theseus offers them the comfort of knowing that Oedipus has received a proper burial, but by his wishes they cannot go to the site. Antigone then decides to return to Thebes. [1]

AntigoneEdit

Antigone is the subject of a story in which she attempts to secure a respectable burial for her brother Polynices. Oedipus's sons, Eteocles and Polynices, had shared the rule jointly until they quarrelled, and Eteocles expelled his brother. In Sophocles' account, the two brothers agreed to alternate rule each year, but Eteocles decided not to share power with his brother after his tenure expired. Polynices left the kingdom, gathered an army and attacked the city of Thebes in a conflict called the Seven Against Thebes. Both brothers were killed in the battle.

King Creon, who has ascended to the throne of Thebes after the death of the brothers, decrees that Polynices is not to be buried or even mourned, on pain of death by stoning. Antigone, Polynices' sister, defies the king's order and is caught.

Antigone is brought before Creon, and admits that she knew of Creon's law forbidding mourning for Polynices but chose to break it, claiming the superiority of divine over human law, and she defies Creon's cruelty with courage, passion and determination. Creon orders Antigone buried alive in a tomb. Although Creon has a change of heart and tries to release Antigone, he finds she has hanged herself. Creon's son Haemon, who was in love with Antigone commits suicide with a knife, and his mother Queen Eurydice, also kills herself in despair over her son's death. She has been forced to weave throughout the entire story, and her death alludes to The Fates.[1]

Antigone is a typical Greek tragedy, in which inherent flaws of the acting characters lead to irrevocable disaster. Antigone and Creon are prototypical tragic figures in an Aristotelian sense, as they struggle towards their fore-doomed ends, forsaken by the gods.

Other RepresentationsEdit

In the oldest version of the story, the burial of Polynices takes place during Oedipus' reign in Thebes, before Oedipus marries his mother, Jocasta. However, in other versions such as Sophocles' tragedies Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, it occurs in the years after the banishment and death of Oedipus and Antigone's struggles against Creon.

Seven Against ThebesEdit

Antigone appears briefly in Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes. Both Antigone and her sister, Ismene sing a funeral dirge for the loss of their brothers. As the play ends, Antigone exists with part of the chorus to escort the body of Polynices. [2]


Euripides' lost storyEdit

The dramatist Euripides also wrote a play called Antigone, which is lost, but some of the text was preserved by later writers and in passages in his Phoenissae. In Euripides, the calamity is averted by the intercession of Dionysus and is followed by the marriage of Antigone and Hæmon.[3] Antigone also plays a role in the Phoenissae.

Appearance elsewhereEdit

Different elements of the legend appear in other places. A description of an ancient painting by Philostratus (Imagines ii. 29) refers to Antigone placing the body of Polynices on the funeral pyre, and this is also depicted on a sarcophagus in the Villa Doria Pamphili in Rome. And in Hyginus' version of the legend, founded apparently on a tragedy by some follower of Euripides, Antigone, on being handed over by Creon to her lover Hæmon to be slain, is secretly carried off by him and concealed in a shepherd's hut, where she bears him a son, Maeon. When the boy grows up, he attends some funeral games at Thebes, and is recognized by the mark of a dragon on his body. This leads to the discovery that Antigone is still alive.[3] The demi-god Heracles then intercedes and pleads with Creon to forgive Hæmon, but in vain. Hæmon then kills Antigone and himself.[4] The intercession by Heracles is also represented on a painted vase (circa 380–300 BC).[5][6]

GalleryEdit

Cultural referencesEdit

AdaptationsEdit

The story of Antigone has been a popular subject for books, plays, and other works, including:

Writings OnEdit

In the works of Hegel, in particular in his discussion of Sittlichkeit in his Phenomenology of Spirit and his Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Antigone is figured as exposing a tragic rift between the so-called feminine "Divine Law," which Antigone represents, and the "Human Law," represented by Creon. The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan writes about the ethical dimension of Antigone in his Seminar VII, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis. Others who have written on Antigone include theorist Judith Butler, in her book Antigone's Claim, as well as philosopher Slavoj Žižek, in various works, including Interrogating the Real (Bloomsbury: London, 2005) and The Metastases of Enjoyment (Verso: London, 1994).

Contemporary productionsEdit

A new translation of Antigone into English by the Canadian poet Anne Carson has been used in a production of the play produced by BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) and put on at the BAM Harvey Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. The performance featured Juliette Binoche as Antigone, with Ivo van Hove as the director. The play ran from September 24 to October 4, 2015.[10]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Sophocles. (2009). The Theban plays : Oedipus the king, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone. Fainlight, Ruth., Littman, Robert J., 1943-. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 9780801895418. OCLC 608624785.
  2. ^ Aeschylus. (2009). The Persians and other plays. Sommerstein, Alan H. London: Penguin. ISBN 9780140449990. OCLC 434561936.
  3. ^ a b   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Antigone (1)" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 125.
  4. ^ Scott Smith, R.; Trzaskoma, Stephen; Pseudo-Apollodorus; Hyginus (2007). Apollodorus' Library and Hyginus' Fabulae: two handbooks of Greek mythology. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-87220-820-9.
  5. ^ Heydermann, Heinrich (1868). Über eine nacheuripideische Antigone [On a post-Euripideian Antigone] (in German). Berlin: Adolph Enslin. ISBN 978-1-160-28969-6. OCLC 601932362.
  6. ^ Sophocles; Jebb, R. C. (1890). Sophocles: The Plays and Fragments. Cambridge: CUP Archive.
  7. ^ commissioned by the Royal Ballet, 1959
  8. ^ Brecht, Bertolt (1948). Antigonemodell 1948 (in German). Berlin: Gebrüder Weiss Verlag. LCCN 50056426. OCLC 1456885.
  9. ^ Charles Spencer (31 May 2012). "Antigone, National Theatre, review". Telegraph.co.uk.
  10. ^ Antigone at Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Further readingEdit