Athenians as the Chorus (Antigone)

NEW YORK- 11/12/2017

Antigone is the first of the three Theban plays that Sophocles wrote, although the events dramatized in it happen last. Antigone is one of the first heroines in the literary history, and also she recognizes her familial duty and talks a lot about the family. In the play, she resists her uncle Creon’s decision despite the consequences, to honor her brother, who died fighting her other brother. Sophocles wrote the play in or before 441 BC in Ancient Greece. It is striking that a prominent play in a time of such imperialism contains little political propaganda, but the story does show the dangers of monarchy, in contrast with the democracy Athens had. Athenians enjoyed a three-day festival in the name of Dionysus. They are sociopolitical events. Everyone who counts as citizens have to leave their jobs and attend the festivals.

The play mainly exposes the problems caused because of an absolute ruler. “Am I to rule by other mind than mine?” (Creon, line 736) The people of Thebes are afraid to talk as they wish or think. “It isn’t right for me to get in trouble.” (Guard, line 240) Therefore, Creon is unable to understand other points of views and makes the mistake of condemning Antigone to death, causing the deaths of his loved ones. Creon will soon regret the choices he made. “This is my guilt, all mine.” (Creon, line 1319) Creon is a ruler that is afraid of many things, such as being overruled by a woman. That is the main conflict between Antigone and himself because he doesn’t want to be opposed by a woman figure. He sees them as inferior. “You’re mind is poisoned. Weaker than a woman!” (Creon, line 746) Thus, when something happens, the first thing Creon thinks is that someone is paid to do it. He is incapable of thinking a different world where people have other motives. For example, the world of Antigone, and her mind. “And you the man who sold your life for money!” (Creon, line 322)

Athenians are very proud of their democratic culture, would have recognized Creon’s error in the many rows of dialogue which indicate that the people of Thebes believe he is wrong but has no voice to tell him so. “What other order would you give us, then?” (Chorus Leader, 216) Athenians would identify the tyranny. Athenians know that they are the chorus in the play, and they understand how powerless they would be under a monarchy regime. Chorus watched the ship sinking, and couldn’t do anything about it. Since this play is written for a mass audience who are politically intellectual, people are not getting stuck in the plot, but can also enjoy it while understanding the message Sophocles is trying to give. In the play, they can’t separate political and family rules, and that’s the main problem with a monarchy. Also, the chorus serves as a middle ground for Creon and Antigone. They don’t agree with either. The message conveyed here is that people of Athens should be actively present in the political life, and democracy is a better regime than monarchy. It shows how the society and political life is better in Athens.





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