Antigone v. The Roman Women
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 whole problem arises when their believes and ideas encountered 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 act.
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 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.Order now
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’.
In Antigone’s eyes, Creon betrayed the Gods 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 honored those things in which honor 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. 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 match with the Greek ideals, the people questioned his action on this point.
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 Creon, “Has she not rather earned a crown of gold? Such is the secret talk of the town.” This proves that Creon was exercising complete domination of political power, which is strictly forbidden in the new ideals.
Also, not allowing Antigone perform her religious ceremony of burying her brother is interfering with religious affairs. This denies Antigone freedom of religion. The contradictions between the beliefs of Creon and Antigone are strong throughout the play. Both have well-structured arguments, but neither completely dominates the other.
Some people still question who the real hero is in the play. Antigone is motivated by her strong religious feelings while Creon is out to make good for his city-state. The chorus’ opinion is the determining factor, as in the end, they convince Creon to set Antigone free. Creon had to weigh each factor carefully, and in the end, he had to decide between ideals.
This shows that the Greeks allowed their women or at least those in high position have the ability to speak on legal matters or to make their thoughts known which is