Antigone - Analysis Of Greek Ideals Essay

This essay has a total of 917 words and 9 pages.




Antigone - Analysis of Greek Ideals



In Ancient Greece, new ideals surfaced as answers to life's

complicated questions. These new beliefs were centered around the

expanding field of science. Man was focused on more than the Gods or

heavenly concerns. A government that was ruled by the people was

suggested as opposed to a monarchy that had existed for many years.

Freedom of religion was encouraged to be exercised in city-states.

These new ideals, though good in intentions, often conflicted with

each other creating complex moral dilemmas.



Such was the case in Antigone a play written by Sophocles during

this era of change. In the play, Antigone and Creon battle a

philosophical war dealing with the controversy of the Greek ideals.

They both based their actions on their beliefs of what is right and

wrong. The conflict arose when the ideals that backed up their actions

clashed with each other, making it contradiction between morals.



Antigone's side of the conflict held a much more heavenly

approach, as opposed to the mundane road that Creon chose to follow.

Antigone feels that Creon is disregarding the laws of heaven through

his edict. After she is captured and brought to Creon, she tells him

"I do not think your edicts strong enough to overrule the unwritten

unalterable laws of God and heaven, you being only a man." Antigone's

staunch opinion is one that supports the Gods and the laws of heaven.

Her reasoning is set by her belief that if someone is not given a

proper burial, that person would not be accepted into heaven. Antigone

was a very religious person, and acceptance of her brother by the Gods

was very important to her. She felt that "It is against you and me

he has made this order. Yes, against me." Creon's order was personal

to Antigone. His edict invaded her family life as well as the Gods'.



An important ideal in Ancient Greece was the belief that the

government was to have no control in matters concerning religious

beliefs. In Antigone's eyes, Creon betrayed that ideal by not allowing

her to properly bury her brother, Polynices. She believed that the

burial was a religious ceremony, and Creon did not have the power to

deny Polynices that right. Antigone's strong beliefs eventually led

her to her death by the hand of Creon. Never, though, did she stop

defending what she thought was right. As Creon ordered her to her

death, Antigone exclaimed, "I go, his prisoner, because I honoured

those things in which honour truly belongs." She is directly

humiliating Creon by calling his opinions and decisions weak and

unjust. She also emphasizes "his prisoner," which tells us that

Creon's decision to capture Antigone was his own, and was not backed

up by the majority of the people. She feels that Creon is abusing his

power as king and dealing with her task to a personal level.



Creon's actions are guided by the ideal that states "Man is the

measure of all things." The chorus emphasizes this point during the

play by stating that "There is nothing beyond (man's) power." Creon

believes that the good of man comes before the gods. Setting the

example using Polynices' body left unburied is a symbol of Creon's

belief. "No man who is his country's enemy shall call himself my

friend." This quote shows that leaving the body unburied is done to

show respect for Thebes. After all, how could the ruler of a

city-state honor a man who attempted to invade and conquer his city.

From that perspective, Creon's actions are completely just and

supported by the ideals.



Though most of Creon's reasonings coincide with the Greek ideals,

one ideal strongly contradicts his actions. The ideal states that the

population would be granted freedom from political oppression and that

freedom of religion would be carried out. Creon defied both of these.

First, Antigone was "his prisoner", not necessarily the publics. In

fact, the general population supported Antigone, though they were too

scared to say anything. Haemon, the son of Creon, knew of this, and

told


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