Antigone, the Sequel: PR

Antigone, written by Sophocles and a successor to Oedipus the King, our second assigned “book”. Once again, Sophocles was able to envelop me in the story and gave an enjoyable impression. Although I may have also enjoyed Antigone, it was not for the reasons that allowed me to enjoy Oedipus the King. In Oedipus, I enjoyed the irony that fell upon him. As for Antigone, I enjoyed reading the aftermath of the irony that fell upon Oedipus and the character development throughout the royal family of Thebes.

Antigone is the sequel to the tragic irony that fell upon Oedipus. When Oedipus the King concluded, we learn Oedipus is sent to exile, but did not learn the consequences that followed the tragedy until we were given the “summary” of Antigone. Antigone, the play happens years after the exile of Oedipus where we briefly told who sat on the throne and the events that followed up. I had read books where there was a time skip into the future and felt incomplete. However, the transition in Antigone felt very smooth and made it easy to understand what caused the upcoming event. After the death of her brothers in a duel, the “traitor,” Polynices was left outside to die as a reminder of what happens if you commit treason, Antigone became unpleased and planned to give his brother a proper burial despite it being a crime punishable by death. 

My own flesh and blood-deer sister, dear Ismene, how many griefs our father Oedipus handed down (p.59)

Here, we can see how the tragedy that falls upon Oedipus affects his daughter, Antigone. Later on, we also see Creon argue with Tiresias giving us a flashback of what happened to Oedipus when he tried to revolt against his prophecies. However, unlike Oedipus, Creon learned from him and agreed to listen to him after the Leader joined in.

my king-terrible prophecies. Well I know, since the hair on this old head went gray, he’s never lied to Thebes.

Creon: I know it myself-I’m shaken, torn. It’s a dreadful thing to yield (p.116).

Creon listens to the Leader and agreed to go against his will after the lesson given to Oedipus (p.117). In this sequel, we can see hints of how the tragedy that fell upon Oedipus affected the people of Thebes and the character development of two characters.

Ismene began as the “voice of reason” where she tries to convince Antigone to think properly about the consequences as she states she will give Polynices a proper burial (pp.59-64). After Antigone is placed on a “trail” for burying Polynices, Creon rushed into conclusion that her sister, Ismene must also be involved and summoned her (p.83). However, we get a surprising reaction from Ismene once she arrives (p. 86).

I did it, yes-if only she consents-I share the guilt, the consequences too (p.86).

Although Ismene began by being the “voice of reason” and attempted to convince Antigone that burying Polynices is worth the consequences, she immediately asks to share the consequences with Antigone despite not being part of the burying. This can be seen as Ismene sharing Antigone’s view. Although she did not act upon it. We also see a similar development with Creon. At first, we see Creon as a stone-willed man who places the city, Thebes above everything else, including his own family. Creon initially sentenced Antigone to death by stoning. However, later on, Creon had her sent into a cave far away from the city and pinned with a small ration. Creon mentions that this way, it will not dirty the city of Thebes with any possible sin and will allow the gods to rescue her if they wish. After the prophecy from Tiresias, Creon went against his will and gave the “traitor,” Polynices a proper burial before attempting to release Antigone from the cave. However, Creon messed up and did his task in a reverse order leading to Antigone’s suicide, and Haemon, his son, stabbed himself after a failed attempt to kill his father. Here, Creon cried a loud cry before returning to his castle, showing that he is still human and cares for his family. Once he arrives back, he receives the news of his wife, Eurydice has ended her own life. Creon became mortified and broke down revealing the human side of Creon.