Churton Collins The following article was originally published in Sophocles' Antigone. Nothing can illustrate more strikingly the real complexity which underlies and is involved in the apparent simplicity of the art of Sophocles than the ethics of Antigone. The central purpose is obviously the relation of the law which has its sanction in political authority and the law which has its sanction in the private conscience, the relation of the obligations imposed on human beings as citizens and members of the state, and the obligations imposed on them in the home and as members of families.
Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. Historical Publishing Company, In the Antigone contempt of death enables a weak maiden to conquer a powerful ruler, who, proud of his wisdom, ventures in his unbounded insolence to pit his royal word against divine law and human sentiment, and learns all too late, by the destruction of his house, that Fate in due course brings fit punishment on outrage.
The play takes up the story of the Seven Against Thebesby Aeschylusbut with some changes in the situation. Two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, have fallen, as will be remembered, at one of the gates of Thebes. King Creon allows Eteocles to be buried at once, that he might receive due honor among the shades; but he orders a herald to forbid any funeral rites or burial to the corpse of Polynices.
Weak women such as we cannot strive with men; rather were it seemly to bow to those that are stronger than ourselves. The dead, who lie below, will deal leniently with us, as forced to yield.
Longer time have I to spend with them than with those who live upon the earth. Seek not to argue with me; nothing so terrible can come to me but that an honored death remains. They greet the sun's bright beams, the fairest light that ever shone on seven-gated Thebes.
Presumptuous insolence has Zeus laid low, and he who boldly rushed high on our towers with cries of victory is hurled headlong by his lightning flash. If round the seven gates of Thebes Ares roused mutual strife, yet there the foreign leaders left their armies as tribute to victorious Zeus; yea, even the two unhappy brothers, who, with victorious spears, dealt with each other like doom.
Wherefore let there be no more thought of war; in stately dance we will surround the temple of the gods, with joyous Bacchus at our head. He announces his decree: Let the body lie mutilated, as a feast to dogs and birds.
Therefore have I appointed watchers over his corpse, and do ye watch yourselves that no one disobey. Greed has often led men to their death.
Yet there is no sign whose hand it was. One guard accused another; yet each will by ordeal of fire and sacred oath maintain his innocence. At last we made resolve that we would tell the king of this thing and the lot fell that I should be the bearer of this unwelcome message.
It is the citizens, who long since have murmured at my rule. They have bribed them to let the deed be done. Therefore I swear, unless ye guards track out the guilty one and bring him here before me, ye shall pay for your neglect by a death of torture, and so shall learn that from base profit comes more loss than gain.
The guard hastens away, thanking the gods that he has come off so well. The chorus sings an ode in praise of man as the mightiest of all mighty things on earth: Year by year with his deep-furrowing plough he wears the earth, the puissant earth.
The winged race of birds, the beasts of the forest, and the denizens of the deep he takes, snaring them in his network mesh; he brings to the yoke the maned horse and tameless mountain ox. Speech and thought are his; he knows how to frame controlling laws, no less than how to escape frost and rain, the missiles of the air.
Naught that may come finds him unprepared. Even from fell disease he has contrived to flee; only from Death he will never find escape. Gifted with wondrous skill to plan, he turns him, now to evil, now to good. Shield of the State, when he holds fast his country's laws and the gods' sacred right; the State's destruction, when in his pride he gives himself up to the base.
Far may he be from us who dares such deeds. They fear that in her folly she has proved a rebel to the king's decree. The guard confirms their fears. The sun stood in mid-heaven, glowing hot; and suddenly a whirlwind raised all the dust of the plain, and when at last it was at rest, we saw the maiden, who, with loud wailing, cursed the man who had undone her deed.
And she quickly brought in her hands fine dust, and spread it on the corpse a second time, pouring three times libations from a vase of brass.
On beholding this, we quickly hastened to the spot; she let us seize her, nor denied what she had done. High is their happiness whose life stands clear From touch or tasts of Ill. For them whose roof-tree rocks beneath the wrath divine, No respite is from fear; But curse on curse comes crowding on them still-- Birth after birth, their generations pine.
As when, beneath the North Wind's stormy scourge Of bitter blasts that blow from Thracian land, Over the deep-sea darkness drives the surge, From the dim gulf it stirs the dark and storm-vext sand, And wave-worn headland and confronting shore Reverberate the roar. So see I woe on woe, ordained of old-- Woes of the living race, on woes of old time rolled, For all the line of Labdacus!
No generation's blight Can sate the curse nor give back light Where some dark power impends, with ruin fraught! Awhile, light seemed to grow O'er thy last root, O house of Oedipus!18 quotes from Antigone: ‘I spit on your happiness!
I spit on your idea of life--that life that must go on, come what may. You are all like dogs that lic. Essays & Papers Antigone Work Quotes Essay - Paper Example Antigone Work Quotes Essay Guard “We saw this girl giving that dead man’s corpse full burial rites-an act you’d made illegal - Antigone Work Quotes Essay introduction.
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Understanding these important quotes from Antigone will help you understand the play. These excerpts with analysis explain the meaning behind these famous quotes . If you find QuotesGram website useful to you, please donate $10 to support the ongoing development work. Sophocles Quotes.
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Antigone looks down on her sister, Ismene, who refuses to help her. Ismene was against crossing Creon to bury their brother, and does not support Antigone's actions or her stuborn nature.
Ismene values living more than Antigone. Antigone is not merely duty driven, but emotionally driven.