Antigone, defying her uncle Creon's decree that her brother should remain unburied, challenges the morality of man's law overruling the laws of the gods. The clash between her and Creon with its tragic consequences have inspired continual reinterpretation.
The plot revolves around King Creon who believes that a traitor in the kingdom does not warrant a proper burial, and Polyneices has died a traitor. However, the traitor’s sister, Antigone, protests against Creon’s refusal to bury her brother and, in light of her rebellion, is ordered by the king to be buried alive, despite being engaged to the king’s son. However, the gods are on Antigone’s side, as proven by the play’s blind prophet, and only then does Creon changes his mind about the burial right, with persuasion from the prophet. As he goes to properly bury the traitor and release Antigone from captivity, Antigone is discovered having hanged herself. Antigone’s fiancé attacks his own father and kills himself, and then the king’s wife takes her life, too. Sophocles' play speaks loudly to the ongoing conflict between the freedom of the individual and the power of the state, and addresses the basic human right to freedom of speech.
This translation by Don Taylor, accurate and poetic, was made for a BBC TV production of the Theban Plays in 1986, which he directed.
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In his long life, Sophocles (born ca. 496 B.C., died after 413) wrote more than one hundred plays. Of these, seven complete tragedies remain, among them the famed Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus. In Antigone, he reveals the fate that befalls the children of Oedipus.
Polynices, son of Oedipus, has led a rebellious army against his brother, Eteocles, ruler of Thebes. Both have died in single combat. When Creon, their uncle, assumes rule, he commands that the body of the rebel Polynices be left unburied and unmourned, and warns that anyone who tampers with his decree will be put to death.
Antigone, sister of Polynices, defies Creon's order and buries her brother, claiming that she honors first the laws of the gods. Enraged, Creon condemns her to be sealed in a cave and left to die. How the gods take their revenge on Creon provides the gripping denouement to this compelling, frequently performed tragedy.
Filled with passionate speeches and sensitive probing of moral and philosophical issues, this powerful drama reveals the grim fate that befalls the children of Oedipus. When Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, chooses to obey the law of the gods rather than an unconscionable command from Creon, ruler of Thebes, she is condemned to death. How the gods take their revenge on Creon provides the gripping denouement to this compelling tragedy, still one of the most frequently performed of classical Greek dramas. Footnotes.
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