For those of us who find Antiogone’s demise too depressing, there was a play Antigona by
Euripides with your typical
Dionysus-like approach to solving social tensions and certain other “frictions” preoccupied people’s mind for centuries, as reflected in hundreds of pieces of art devoted to this easy-go-lucky deity. Many of such works of art are referenced (indexed) on the Web. One of such sites is at http://www.the-goldenrule.name/Dionysus_ART-Pagan.htm . I am not familiar with other content of the site, and do not endorse the opinions expressed by the site’s creator or by its critics; due to severe time constraints, I have no plans to familiarize with them, either. I am rather impressed, however, by a large collection of images of art from various museums annotated on the site. Be forewarned, some of this art is quite X-rated, maybe even objectionable. For me it is just art: I began a study of it as a child, and I see it mostly from the viewpoint of academics and aesthetics as part of man’s eternal search for harmony. Just as they invented the word harmony, ancient Greeks got closer to its essence than any other civilization.
The oracle received by Oedipus as a youth is what may be called a “self-fulfilling prophecy:” the prophecy sets in motion actions and events, which all conclude in the prophecy’s fulfillment. Yet, Oedipus makes his own decisions, and could have avoided making certain fatal mistakes, had he been more attentive and insightful, such as taking a few deep breaths, then giving his father’s chariot the right of way. Maybe he should have thought twice before marrying Jocaste, whom he neither knew nor loved, when he married her. Perhaps Antigone would have lived if she kept her mouth shut instead of defying her uncle’s authority to rule.
Perhaps, if Jocaste were not such a selfish, degenerate bitch, she should have inquired into the circumstances of her husband’s death, instead of rejoicing on the account of taking possession of his bank accounts. Perhaps, she should have asked herself why Oedipus’ feet were disfigured by an ugly scar. Perhaps she should have recalled that she pierced and bound the feet of her baby with a pin off her tunic, planning to murder the newborn by a terrible death of exposure.
Maybe Jocaste and Laius should have thought twice before conspiring to kill their baby, an act so horrific that it had to be punished by their death at the hands of the boy, who survived. How did they know if the Gods’ were not just testing how really rotten they were?
to eyesight appear throughout Oedipus,
the King. Oedipus’ clear vision is metaphorically compared with insight and
knowledge, as the clear-eyed Oedipus is blind to the truth of his marriage,
unaware of his true origins and the crimes he unwittingly committed. The
prophet Teiresias, whom Hera, the first lady on the
A central theme in Antigone is the right of the individual to reject government’s infringement on one’s family. This right is sacred and absolute. Antigone says to Ismene about Creon's decree, “He has no right to keep me from my own.” As a young girl she devoted 10 years of her life leading her blind father on his journey, and as a young woman she confronts the state to protect the honor of her family, even on the penalty of death.
In Antigone, Sophocles prominently posits the question, “which
law is greater: Gods’ or man's?” Sophocles’ answers this unequivocally: Gods’
law (Natural Law) supersedes the law of man. He wrote the play to save
The Chorus in Oedipus the King, describes natural law as follows:
To follow still those laws ordained on high
Whose birthplace is the bright ethereal sky
No mortal birth they own,
Ne'er shall they slumber in oblivion cold,
The god in them is strong and grows not old.
demands obedience to the law above all else, right or wrong, although “the law”
he created is obviously offensive of the fundamental, natural law. His “law” is a
precursor to the
And then you chose to violate the law.
Your law. Not the sacred law. The gods
That rule among the dead have issued no
Such proclamation. A man cannot erase
The laws unwritten. Cannot change the unchanging
Laws of heaven. Eternity is beyond
The bounds of time, beyond today or yesterday,
Beyond forever. Gods’ laws were there before
The birth of man. Should I fear you more
Than I should fear the gods?
I know that I
Shall die. I was destined to that end before
Your proclamation. To leave a world so filled
With evil, the sooner death embraces me
The more I have to gain. I welcome death.
Without a tear or sorrow. But to leave the body
Of my mother’s son unmourned, torn
And rotting in the sun, that would cause
True pain. You call me fool. You. Fool.
She is defiant like her father Oedipus.
In the face of danger, she has not learned submission.
She will learn. Today…
(Adapted by David Feldshuh)
I knew that I must die,
The two different conceptions of citizenship are exemplified by the clash between Creon and Antigone. Creon defines citizenship as utmost obedience to the will of the state, and thus condemns Antigone to slow death and dishonors her brother, the insurgent. According to Creon, Antigone has abandoned her citizenship by disobeying him; Her brother lost his citizenship when he rose against the State. In performances of Antigone in 1940’s and after, Creon often personified fascism.
It is axiomatic that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Hence, a citizen who fights against the Government’s corruption is a patriot, sacrificing her or his safety for the common good. Yet, by application of the Government’s “law” such citizen is a criminal, maybe even treasonous criminal, and is not worthy of the rights of citizenship. Governments, despite all the claims of being “democratic,” have a strong built-in tendency to usurp absolute power and defy citizens’ rights. Examples of the conception of citizenship based on loyalty abound: societies which declared themselves the “saviors of the civilization,” Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, actually destroyed countless millions of their own citizens, something which their worst enemies could not have “accomplished” in their wildest dreams. We usually use these two as examples not so much because they are unique, but because they “lost,” and some of their most horrific crimes were publicly condemned by “victors” in order to appear more ethical and humane than their enemy. Yet, it will not take long to uncover some horrific crimes committed by the so called “democratic” states, albeit on a smaller scale.
Antigone does not deny that Polynices rebelled against the state. She simply asserts that his insurrection does not negate his citizenship, including a citizen’s right to have his dead body properly buried. Interestingly, Antigone's determination to bury Polynices comes from a strong conviction to honor her family, not so much the gods. She makes an emotional appeal to her sister Ismene, in Sophocles’ opening scene, saying that they must bury their brother’s body out of sisterly love, even if he did betray the state. Antigone’s “highest laws” are the laws of family honor and unity that come from pre-historic times and won’t die. These are above the laws of the state.
To Creon, her ideas are so dangerous that she must be singled
out and exemplified by the harshest punishment: she will be insulated from the
The New York State Assembly Committee on Children and Families resolved such issue ingenuously: most members are flaming lesbian and gay, there is no attempt to even pretend there is any gender balance on the Committee, members of which are overwhelmingly female, imbued in the radical agenda of family destruction, so there can be no real understanding of the concept of “children,” except as harvested from heterosexual families. Equally, the “family” is nothing but a financial concept, as 75% of the family’s networth, on average, sticks to the pockets of the divorce lawyers, whose pecuniary interests the committee really represents.