Antigone, Sophocles and My Perspective on Greek Drama

Born in 495 B. C., Sophocles was to become one of the great playwrights of the golden age. The son of a wealthy merchant, he would enjoy all the comforts of a thriving Greek empire. He studied all of the arts. By the age of sixteen, he was already known for his beauty and grace and was chosen to lead a choir of boys at a celebration of the victory of Salamis. Twelve years later, his studies complete, he was ready to compete in the City Dionysia--a festival held every year at the Theatre of Dionysus in which new plays were presented. In his first competition, Sophocles took first prize--defeating none other than Aeschylus himself. More than 120 plays were to follow. He would go on to win eighteen first prizes. Sophocles' plays are generally very optimistic, full of the spirit of Athens in the classical period. He sees men (and to some extent women) as powerful, creative beings, the masters of the world around them, and the proud creations of the gods.

Sophocles also remembers the terrors of war and barbarism, which can sometimes overcome men and women. He pleads, in his plays, for the triumph of reason over wild emotion and anger. Thus, giving recognition to the play Antigone. Antigone is part of the trilogy of Sophocle’s plays, which starts off with Oedipus Rex. Antigone is an excellent example for the modern social dramatist. Antigone is part of the required reading in high schools and colleges around the country because of it’s involves real life situations and how they deal with them. Antigone’s rebellion against her father is a situation that people of today can live relate to. Antigone is born of the incestuous relationship between Oedipus and his mother, Jocasta. After Oedipus blinded himself, Antigone and her little sister Ismene served as his guides, following him into exile. When Oedipus dies Antigone returns to Thebes where she is surprised with the deaths of her two brothers Eteocles and Polyneices. Creon(King of Thebes) had made the announcement that Polyneices was a traitor and he cannot be buried. Antigone buries Polyneicus despite Creon’s wishes and is condemned to die being buried alive even though she is engaged to his son Haemon. Creon seeks the wisdom from the prophet Teiresias. Teiresias warns Creon that the gods are on Antigone’s side and she is not to be put to death by his orders. By this time it is too late and Antgone had already hung herself. In a violent rage, Haemon attacks his father and then kills himself. When the news of the death of her son is reported back to the kingdom, Creon’s wife Eurydice, takes her own life. Creon is left all alone in the kingdom to lament the deaths of his family. Antigone is a play that can be interpreted as an emphasis of power the king had in the Athenian period. It is can also serve as a representation of foundation of patriarchy and who has power. Sophocles may have wrote the play to inform his people how extreme a kings rule can be and the results of the measures taken. Antigone also portrays the role of women in Greek history. Women in Greek plays have taken up the role of the villain, the role of the victim, and the role of the heroine even though in Greek society the role of women were considered unimportant to the life of a Greek male. In the play Antigone, Antigone is one of the few women to openly rebel against her position in life. I believe Antigone was indeed a feminist. She wouldn’t fit the definition of what we call a feminist today in our time, but in her time her actions and beliefs would have been seen as radical enough to be categorized as feminist. Antigone stands out among women of her time. She and her sister Ismene were loyal and effective daughters who took excellent care of their crippled father and eventually brought him a measure of peace and contentment. She realized the importance of the spiritual quality of life and met her fate resigned and content that what she had done was morally right. Her example has set a standard for all future generations.

Women should be able to have the same morals as men and not be punished for acting upon them. Antigone was an exceptional woman in her own time. Antigone Antigone was not satisfied with the rule of men and knew that the gods would approve her actions. I have read the play Antigone and have found it more interesting the third time reading it. As the play develops, suspense still halos over my mind as I turn the page. I am aware what is going to happen, but it is so well written that I block out my knowledge of the play and let the story unfold with each line. Sophocles is a great dramatist and Shakespeare was really good as well but I can’t seem to realize that they are both not very ‘jovial’ writers. Sophocles intended his audience to understand the ethics and morale of having a king. By reading the document and understanding Sophocle’s time period I have come to the conclusion that Sophocles was maybe trying to aim the hope of a democratic government where mishaps and laws can be declared. I have always admired Greek tragedies and have come to love the dramatic outcomes they posses. Not all Greek playwrights write plays about murder and betrayal.

Some actually have happy, indebt meanings in their plays and can somehow inform its reader in multiple ways. I am enlightened by the character Antigone cause she stands by her morals and defies everyone else’s views on what she can and cannot do. She is fits the definition of a rebel more than that of a feminist. I am a major fan of Greek drama and I do feel as though all Greek drama plays should be analyzed through different aspects to find meanings that may appear abstract if read once. This is why I approach Greek drama plays the way I do. I’m trying to make myself feel and realize every moral of the story as possible in hopes that what I learn will enhance my outlook on life.

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