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Antigone. Sophocles. Background Info. The “seven against Thebes”: mythical war between Eteocles and Polynices both were given rule of Thebes after E. ruled would not let P. rule-banished him P. came back later battled each other and both died

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Background info
Background Info.

  • The “seven against Thebes”:

    • mythical war between Eteocles and Polynices

    • both were given rule of Thebes after E. ruled would not let P. rule-banished him

    • P. came back later battled each other and both died

  • 4 children of Oed. : Polynices, Eteocles, Antigone, Ismene

  • “haemon” means “blood” in Greek:

    • name of Antigone’s husband,

    • theme of blood relative,

    • Creon’s belief that personal be submerged under the state-leads to blood


  • Antigone, Ismene

  • Reveals

    • death of both brothers

    • Both daughter’s sadness concerning father

    • Antigone’s plot to bury Polynices

    • Ismene’s rational thought and A. stubborn righteousness

    • Ismene makes it known that she will not join A. in her disobedience

      Focus: How has Sophocles characterized each of these sisters as foils? To what purpose?


  • Invocation to Zeus

  • Explanation of the “Seven at Thebes”

  • Explains that Creon is now in power due to Oed. fate

Episode 1
Episode 1

  • Creon, Senator, Sentinel

  • C. explains that he now takes power ever since the “mutual fratricide”(8)

  • Discover C. ruling policy and how much respect he has for the land and it’s citizens

  • Explains his decree that Polynices should not be buried due to his banishment by Eteocles, and P. subsequent dishonoring of the land

  • Senator agrees with C.

  • Sentinel makes C. aware that someone ahs buried P. And that he was made to come and tell the bad news

  • C. reacts in anger when Senator says it is supernatural: “Truce to your speech, before I choke with rage…”(11)

  • C. states that offender must be put to death

Stasium 1
Stasium 1

  • Chorus explain that C. is “Wrestling his country’s laws to his own will” (15)

  • Chorus laments A.’s fate and makes the audience aware that she has been captured

Episode 2 sentinel creon antigone ismene senator
Episode 2: Sentinel, Creon, Antigone, Ismene, Senator

  • Sentinel explains how they caught A. after a hurricane, “shrieking” as she sees the body uncovered

  • A. stands stubborn and “den[ies] it not”(17)

  • A. retorts that it was not Zeus’s decree, only C. and the state, and therefore she feels justified by the “…unwritten code of Heaven”(19)

  • C. asks her if she felt the same honor for her other dead bro. who was slain by P.

  • A. states that all are honorable in the underworld as it should be, “…The dead clay makes no protest” (20)

  • C. is angered at woman trying to disobey him and orders her death: “…if you must love, [love] the dead! No woman…shall order me” (20)

  • Focus: conflict behind burial, “blood” and “state”

  • I. implicates herself; A. angry; both are taken by C.

Stasium 2
Stasium 2

  • Chorus laments that before the war, all was peaceful

  • Explains that A. is like Oed. with her “wild words” (23)

  • Laments the fact that Haemon, A. husband, must see his wife perish

Response questions
Response Questions

  • 1. Defend Antigone’s argument for her brothers burial. Do you believe she is justified?

  • 2. Explain Ismene’s reaction to Antigone. Do you believe that she had reason to react this way?

  • 3. How does Creon’s initial response remind you of Oed.?

  • 4. How does Antigone defend her position to Creon? Was she justified?

  • 5. How does Creon respond? What does he call to to justify his reasoning?

  • 6. Did anything surprise you about Ismene’s insistence upon being implicated with Antigone? Why do you believe she does this?

Episode 3
Episode 3

  • Creon, Haemon, Sen., Antigone

  • C. asks son if he is “disposed –In everything to back [his] father’s quarrel” (25)

  • C. tells H. never to “fling away [his] wits” for liking of a woman (25)

  • C. calls to anarchy as the cause for A. death; no woman can worsen me

  • Town feels for A.; H. warns his father to see both sides—”Let thy wrath go!”(27)

  • Argue over how to rule land: begin to fight using the stereotype of a “woman” as weak and powerless

  • Out of anger, C. wishes H. to watch A. die

  • H. leaves angry; A. banished to a cave: buried alive

Stasium 3
Stasium 3

  • Antigone speaking in lyrical poetics to the chorus and lamenting her fate

  • Chorus answers that she is praised for her valor

  • Discussion of being buried alive

  • Chor. states that she is bound by fate: “The cause is some ancestral load, which thou art bearing” (32).

Episode 4 end
Episode 4-end

  • A. argues w/ C. about the right to bury her bro. imploring, “…what celestial right/ Did I transgress?” (34)—monologue speaking to her dead brother

  • A. believes that Heaven and the gods are on her side

  • Tiresias (“sees”) and reveals to C. that gods are angered due to his dishonoring of Poly.—will not accept sacrifices; C. needs to know “…that to err from the right path is common to mankind”, but he must not stand “obstinate”(38)

  • C. angered and calls T. prophecies false: T. reveals that H. will die

  • Senator convinces him to set A. free—they go to do so


  • Mess. Tells Eurydice about H. going to see A. , and finding her hanging, kills himself

  • Eurydice leaves before he finishes his speech

  • Mess. hopes that she will not cry in public, but “…to her handmaids in the house…for a private pain”(46)

  • C. laments his mistake! (48); asks to be banished—Eurydice has killed herself

  • Chorus’ last words and main theme: wisdom and reverence to gods is primary