Antigone Analysis of Sophocles’ Greek tragedy
The protagonist • Antigone? • Title character • Begins the action • Anarchist • Other arguments? • Creon? • Experiences each stage of the tragic hero • Attention at the end of the play is on Creon • Other arguments?
Elements of a tragedy • Aristotle’s criticism and philosophy • The Poetics—reference on tragedy and poetry • History of tragedy began when characters emerged • Thespis—separated the first actor from the chorus • Aeschylus—added a second actor • Sophocles—added a third actor • “The number of players was limited (in the plays of Sophocles) to a chorus and three actors” (1065).
Aristotle’s description of tragedy “Tragedy is ‘an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament;…in the form of a drama, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions’”(1065).
Aristotle’s description of tragedy • “action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude” 1. Characters must be royal or aristocratic. 2. The subject matter must be elevated. • “in a language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament” 3. Lofty vocabulary and poetic devices are necessary for tragedies (1068).
Aristotle’s description of tragedy • “in the form of drama, not of narrative” 4. A tragedy must be acted out rather than told. • Aristotle’s final phrase asserts the idea that tragic drama “arouses fear and pity in the spectators and leads to a catharsis of these emotions” (1066). 5. Tragedy leads to catharsis. • “Tragedy is a terrible beauty.”
Terms for Greek drama • Polis vs. Oikos • Public vs. Private • How does Creon allow these two spheres to overlap? • Dramatic irony (136) • Tragic irony (137) • Tragic dilemma (1067) • Peripeteia & Anagnorisis • “The reversal occurs simultaneously with understanding” (1067) or recognition. • Machiavelli
The idea of love in the play • Does Haimon love Creon and vice versa? • Does Antigone love Haimon and vice versa? • Does Ismene love Polyneices? • Why does love lead to a denial of love? • The chorus sings of “Merciless Aphrodite.”
What’s in a name? • Antigone • “anti” means not or against • “gon” (the same stem as “gen”) means gender or generation • Creon • Means rule • Polyneices • “poly” means many • A fighter in many battles
Discussion Questions • Why does Antigone return to her brother’s body a second time? • How would Antigone be different if Antigone were a man? • What was the importance of a funeral to the Greeks? To us? • Which characters in the play commit suicide? Why? How do these reasons relate with the same tragic choice in today’s society? • Ismene asks Antigone, “But why attempt a hopeless act at all?” Why would someone attempt a hopeless act?