Antigone – Sophocles

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I read the Greek tragedy in high school as part of the curriculum for ancient civilizations and remember feeling enriched by it. I have often thought of rereading the play, and alas 15 years later I finally have. “Antigone” still strikes the right note with me and I assume that I am now able to understand the nuances better.

Antigone is a woman caught between a rock and a hard place – no pun intended. She has to decide between following the King’s law and risking the wrath of the Gods or following the Gods’ law and being condemned to death by the King. It is a question of ethics and jurisprudence. Which law is higher? The conclusion to the tragedy is no surprise. Antigone follows the law of the Gods and dies.

There are people who get positively cross-eyed at the word Greek classic, but I find many aspects downright funny. Almost every character is a part of a disfunctional family and as if that was not enough, the characters also have the Gods and fate to contend with. Take Antigone, she is the daughter of Oedipus and his wife/mother. Her two brothers disagreed on which of them should be the king of Thebes and they therefore end up killing eachother. As the male relative left, Antigone’s uncle takes the throne and decides that the brother attacking Thebes is a traitor and must not be buried. If it was not tragic, it would be comical.

The play is not without a comic outlet. The guard who keeps watch at the brother’s unburied body, is hilarious and sheds light on more than a few truths.

In addition hereto, “Antigone” has beautiful imagery and is a pleasure to read. I recommend reading it out loud, it is a play after all.

“Antigone” is a fairly accessible Greek tragedy and therefore highly recommendable for connoisseurs and novices alike.

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