Antigone is a play, a Greek tragedy, written by Sophocles somewhere around 440 B.C. I read this in the eighth grade on the recommendation of my librarian. I’m so glad she told me about it. I loved it and have forever adored the names Antigone (an-ti-guh-nee) and Ismene (iss-meh-nee).
Here’s the gist of Antigone:
Thebes is in the middle of a civil war, these two brothers are on either side of it, and at the end the emperor, Creon, decides to honor one brother and dishonor the other, Polyneices. These brothers have sisters: Antigone and Ismene.
Antigone is distraught over her dead brother, Polyneices, being left out for the birds to pick him apart, so she tries to conspire with her sister, Ismene, to bury him on the field. Ismene is too afraid and refuses but cannot dissuade Antigone from doing it.
Antigone sneaks out under the cover of night and gives her brother a burial. Someone reports it to the emperor the next day. He wants whoever did it caught and killed. They uncover the body, and Antigone goes to do it again but gets caught.
The sentries bring her before the Emperor. He’s upset because this is his son’s betrothed. She doesn’t deny doing it the first time and he suspects her sister, but she is eventually released even though she tried to take the blame so she could die with Antigone.
Haemon, his son comes and wants to honor his father but cares too much for Antigone, trying to convince his father against killing her, so they have a fight. It’s eventually decided she’ll be buried alive in a cave and then a prophet shows up warning Creon he had better bury the dude and release the sister or the gods will be not stop being mad at him and take his child from him.
Emperor Creon finally gets the hint, tells some men to bury Polyneices and goes to release Antigone from the cave. He arrives to find his distraught son who finds Antigone hanged by her own hand. Haemon tries to kill his father, but can’t so kills himself. When Creon gets home he finds out his wife heard about it all and she’s killed herself, too.
He lost everyone he cared about because he cared more about keeping and establishing his power. And that’s the end of that.
I’m not a big fan of tragedy. Romeo and Juliet is a good play, but the whole dying in the end thing doesn’t strike my fancy. I’ll always be a happily ever after girl.
Antigone spoke to me, though. The main character, Antigone, is strong and courageous. She is willing to stand up for what is right in the face of great opposition and doesn’t lie to hide her defiance of the wrongs perpetuated by the powers that be, regardless of the consequences. Life is not always black and white, but certain things need to be held firmly and confidently because they are right and true and good.
What about you? Do you love a good tragedy? Any good Greek plays to recommend? If you like funny plays, I know a French one that’s enjoyable by Moliere called, Tartuffe.