Sometime in the distant past, two brothers face each other in battle for the kingship of the great city of Thebes. Fighting throughout the day, both finally accomplish their goal in an unexpected twist of fate; they slay each other at the same exact time. At the other gates of Thebes the army that the attacking brother brought has been routed and peace has returned to the city, for the most part anyway. The brothers’ uncle Creon is made king. The brother that defended the city has a proper burial while the attacking brother has been left to rot and be eaten by the dogs of the street and the carrion eating birds of the sky. Only one person has any qualms with this, Antigone, sister to both of the fallen brothers and niece to Creon. Drama unfolds as she stands for her brother’s burial rites, while Creon adamantly opposes to see an enemy of the city buried. Sophocles’ Antigone perplexed me with the still-applicable issues that form the plot of the play and yet bored me with the lack of any action whatsoever.
The issues that this book brings up include how much control the government should have, as well as where our civic duties and family duties come into conflict. This book makes me think, “You know, Creon really had no right to deny his nephew a burial.” I do realize that Thebes was an absolute monarchy, but the ancient Greeks believed that should someone not be buried and mourned, they would be condemned to wander restlessly outside the underworld for eternity. So basically, Creon was condemning Polyneices to wander aimlessly for eternity. That is far too much power. The other question this play brings up is what is more important, our civic duties or our family duties. Antigone’s views represent the duties we have toward our families, protecting and making sure they have the best possible circumstances whereas Creon’s symbolize our dutes to our communities, also protecting and looking out for everyone. Really they are both right in a sense, but wrong in another. I suppose that the matter is up to the individual to decide, who is right, and who is wrong?
This play not only brought up some interesting questions, but the play also had a decent storyline. As I have mentioned before, Antigone’s brother dies and is not permitted burial by Creon. Despite the law that he creates, Antigone finds his body and begins burial rites. A guard catches her in the act and brings her before Creon. Her punishment is to be put in a cave and have the entrance sealed so that she will die of starvation. Nobody save Creon wishes to see this happen, and he receives quite a few visitors arguing her case, but in the end does Antigone ever receive help?
I must admit, the play Antigone by Sophocles was not the most action-packed read in the world. However, the book did bring up some questions that need to be asked. Personally, I really would not recommend this book to anyone but people that enjoy thinking about questions. The book just is not that interesting.