Hughes and Delahoyde
Sophocles' play dramatizes human turmoil in the aftermath of war. In the Parados, the chorus sings of the victory of the Theban army, lead by Eteocles, against the army from Argos, lead by Polynices; brother against brother, both men, Eteocles and Polynices, are now dead. The Argos army has retreated.
Great the Victory, great the joy
In the city of Thebes, the city of chariots
The polis marks the progress of civilization, a triumph of man underscored in the "Ode to Man." Creon's proclamation against the burial of Polynices arrives as a dictum of an urban society--cherishing the "city" is the policy of the common weal, revered above all else. Malcontents and rebels who threaten the law and the sanctity of the polis deserve nothing. Polynices, who returned from exile with the intention of destroying Thebes and enslaving his own blood kin, will have no grave, no burial, no mourning from anyone.
And no less damned is he who puts a friend/ above his country.
Creon's exaltation of the city has merit. A King's devotion (to the Fatherland) follows the authorial notion that our country is our life--no other touchstone can test the heart of man, the temper of his mind and spirit.
The presence of Antigone in modern history
--when and where might we imagine this play performed--place and time-- and why?
This question attempts to draw students into discussing the universal drama between the individual and state. Select a context: The French underground resistance to Nazi Aggression? The play was performed in Paris in 1944 four months before the Allied landings in Normandy. Nazi brutality against the members of the resistance in well documented, including the public display of bodies.
The friction between the individual and the State. JFK said in his address to the nation that each generation of Americans will have to determine its own loyalty to the State.
1. What are some of the possible conflicts represented between Creon and Antigone?
--private vs. public (In Greek polis, public duty takes precedent over private agendas) Is this true today in America? Explain.
--secular vs. religious (separation of church and state)
--young vs. old (change)
--men vs. women
--urban vs. nature( imagery)
The Play: prologue (use film version).
First Episode: Creon's Opening Speech:
What institution does Creon believe to be the most important in life? In this way his belief resembles the teachings of Freud: Civilization and its Discontents.
Is Creon wrong to think this way?
Creon becomes excessively brutal in his decree. How does he treat the sentry? (Creon will later threaten to murder Antigone right before his son's eyes.) What does this suggest about Creon's character?
The Sentry is an interesting character. Describe him.
Hegel said that the tension between Creon and Antigone is between higher laws.
First Stasimon: Ode to Man. What are our civilized skills?
How does the Chorus view human progress?
Second Episode: Notice the arrival of Antigone&emdash;timing. This scene is the confrontation between Creon and Antigone.
What is the relationship of laws made by man and by the gods, according to Antigone?
What is Creon's view of the relationship between man and woman and the relative importance of blood ties to citizenship.
Third Episode: Farther and Son: young and old. According to Creon, what kinds of sons are best? How does the Chorus view Creon's statement: page 94, lines 748-753
What is the public sentiment? Haemon's argument is logical suggesting what to his father?
Discuss the obligations of a ruler to his/her people. How might this be relevant today?
Third Stasimon: Ode to Love. What is the main theme to the ode to love? The chorus suspects that love is the enemy?
Contrast to a war song from the '60s. &endash;"What's going on." Marvin Gaye: "Don't punish me with brutality."
Fourth Episode: Antigone's statement has troubled some readers. It appears she may be losing her resolve?
What is the difference between the love of a brother and the love towards a husband and child?
Fourth Stasimon suggests different interpretations of Antigone's behavior by the Chorus.
What is the role of Fate?
Antigone is the angry hero. Is the anger dying away in the face of death? What explantion can you give?
Fifth Episode: What is the function of Teiresias in this episode?
What is Creon's initial reaction? How is this characteristic of Creon? How are Antigone and Creon alike? What course of action does the Chorus recommend? What does Creon learn about law?
Exodos: What does Creon find at the cave? What happens between him and his son? What happens to Creon's wife Eurydice? Why?
What is the moral lesson(s) of the play?
The mighty words of the proud are paid in full&emdash;blows teach us wisdom.
Wisdom is an elusive treasure and can appear to be ignorance. Aristotle's components of tragedy include recognition, reversal, and the tragic flaw.