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ANTIGONE. Author: Sophocles Publication Date: 442 B.C Setting: The city of Thebes – Ancient Greece Genre: Drama. Sophocles was born and raised in Athens He is regarded as one of the world’s greatest playwrights.

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  • Author: Sophocles
  • Publication Date: 442 B.C
  • Setting: The city of Thebes – Ancient
  • Greece
  • Genre: Drama
meet sophocles 496 406 b c
Sophocles was born and raised in Athens

He is regarded as one of the world’s greatest playwrights.

He frequently won 1st place at the Dionysian festivals, which were competitions between playwrights.

Meet Sophocles(496-406 B.C.)
  • During his life, he wrote over 100 plays, but only 7 have


  • Among these 7 are: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at

Colonus, and Antigone.

more on sophocles
More on Sophocles
  • Was an Ancient Greek writer who won many awards for his plays.
  • The Antigone story is part of a three-play cycle. Although Antigone comes last in the cycle, Sophocles wrote Antigone first.
  • The other plays in the cycle are Oedipus Rex (about how Oedipus becomes King) and Oedipus at Colonus (about how Oedipus is looking for a place to die).
  • Sophocles usually showed how harmful excessive pride (hubris) could be.
the greek theater
The Greek Theater

Theater was a celebration in ancient Greece that was held in honor of Dionysos (the god of wine). During these celebrations, Athenians gathered to watch competitions between playwrights. It was these competitions that Sophocles often won. The plays performed at these festivals usually exposed arrogance which emphasized reverence for the gods and included tragic events. Although violence and disrespect were central to the plot of most tragic plays, violence was never depicted on stage. Instead, these events occurred off stage.

  • Tragedy is a work of literature that results in a catastrophe for the main character.
  • In Greek drama, the main character was always a significant person, a king or a hero, and the cause of the tragedy was a tragic flaw, or weakness in his or her character.
typical structure of a tragedy
Typical Structure of a Tragedy
  • Ancient Greek playwrights used a consistent format for most of their productions.
  • A Chorus is used to divide the scenes (similar to how a curtain does in present day performances) through a song that comments on the action of the previous scene.
  • The Choragos is the leader of the chorus, and serves as another character in the play
The typical structure of a tragedy is as follows:
    • Prologue – exposition which provide background to the conflict
    • Parados or parode – Opening song or ode
      • Strophê – the chorus sings a stanza while moving from right to left while singing
      • Antistrophê - the chorus sings a stanza while moving from left to right while singing
      • Epode – included in some odes as a final stanza
    • Paean – a thanksgiving to Dionysos
    • Exodos – final exiting scene
  • Oedipus (Antigone’s Dad) was a famous King of Thebes.
  • A plague was destroying Thebes and Oedipus called on a blind prophet named Teiresias to explain why Thebes was suffering so.
  • This is what Teiresias tells Oedipus:
  • His parents heard from an oracle (fortune teller) that their son would kill his father and marry his mother (who happened to be King and Queen of Thebes).
  • Not wanting to take any chances, Oedipus’ parents left him on a hillside. His parents tied his ankles to keep him from wandering away (that’s how he came to be called Oedipus “Swollen Foot”).
  • Oedipus was found by a shepherd who raised Oedipus as his own son. Oedipus never knew he was adopted or that his parents ever received the prophesy (prediction) about him.
oedipus antigone s dad
Oedipus (Antigone’s Dad)
  • One day, an all-grown-up Oedipus set out to find his fortune.
  • He traveled along and came to a spot where three roads met. He encountered a man in a carriage who acted aggressively toward him and killed the man.
  • Oedipus continued on his way and decided to take on an angry Sphinx.
the sphinx
The Sphinx
  • The Sphinx had the body of a lioness, the head of a woman, and wings. It guarded The Pyramids of Egypt.
  • It would not allow anyone to pass unless they could solve a riddle. If the person failed, the Sphinx would destroy him or her.
the riddle

The Riddle

Q: Which animal has one voice, but two, three, or four feet being slowest on four?

  • Oedipus solved the riddle.
  • Lucky for Oedipus, the throne of Thebes had just been vacated--The King had just been murdered while traveling.
  • As a bonus, Jocaste, the Queen who was widowed, was very attractive.
  • Oedipus was selected as the next Thebian King and married Jocaste, the widowed (and somewhat older) Queen.
  • Oedipus and Jocaste had four kids.
  • All is well (sort of) in Thebes until the plague hit.
uh oh
  • Oedipus realized he was the cause of the plague--the gods sent it because they were angry about what Oedipus had done (even though when he became King he didn’t know he had killed dad and married his mom).
  • In grief, Oedipus took two broaches (jewelry pins) from his cloak and poked his own eyes out. He blinded himself.
  • His mother/wife Jocaste was also in anguish and hanged herself.
now the soap opera begins
Now the Soap Opera Begins
  • Oedipus and Iacosta had two daughters (Antigone and Ismene) and two sons (Eteocles and Polyneices).
  • After Oedipus blinded himself, He wandered around and eventually died. His son Eteocles assumed the throne.
  • However, both Eteocles’ brother Polyneices and Iacosta’s brother Creon also wanted the throne.
  • A battle occurred between Eteocles and Polyneices for the throne. The brothers ended up killing each other and Creon became King.
one more thing
One More Thing . . .
  • Creon refused to bury Polyneices. In Greek society, the gods demand proper burial.
  • It was the belief of the Ancient Greeks that a body that didn’t have a proper burial would wander for eternity—the body would be neither dead or alive.