Antigone Bastion Of Virtue Essay

1653 words - 7 pages

Fellow Thebans, we gather today to determine the case of Antigone. She stands accused of treason for following the will of the gods by burying her own brother, Polynices. You may ask, why would the state carry a law that contradicts the demands of the gods? I tell you good people, Creon's decree, which forbade the burying of Polynices for fighting his home city will be met with stoning. The law was forged by impulse and anger. By disobeying the "laws the gods all hold in honor", Creon disintegrated his own virtue and the virtue of Thebes itself (Sophocles, Antigone). Therefore, the actions of Antigone should not be met with stoning, but with honor and praise. For she is fighting an injustice within our laws and preserving justice, "the bond of men" (Aristotle, Politics).
As Aristotle writes, the human soul is capable of understanding, free will, planning, and deliberation. Due to these rational functions, we are able to examine our life and determine our psyche (nature), and teloi (our function, purpose, end goal). With this foundational knowledge, we can use arête (virtue) to become properly developed (eudaimonia). This journey towards happiness does not only occur on the personal level. Thebes itself undergoes this quest towards harmony. It is the role of every citizen, especially the statesmen, to lead the state down the orthodox path. This task is essential because without a just society, human happiness is impossible (Aristotle, Ethics Book I).
You are all probably thinking, how can we attain happiness for ourselves and the state? The answer lies in virtue. In particular, "human good turns out to be activity of the soul in accordance with virtue," (Aristotle, Ethics Book I). While some may think wealth is the final end, it is only a means. A life in pursuit pleasure is not a human existence but a life of beasts. Finally, honor itself is not the chief good, for it cannot guarantee our happiness. Let the great Priam of Troy serve as our example to the limits of prestige.
Friends, our responsibilities as citizens of Thebes include understanding the nature of virtue. The practice of virtue creates a proper and obedient citizenry, ready to tackle injustice in all its forms. Since virtue is the "activity of the soul", the nature of the soul must be clarified. The human soul contains an irrational element, in which exists a rational principle (lodged within the rational functions) and its antagonist. While the rational principle leads men towards eudaimonia, its opposing sense drive men towards vice and unhappiness. In the temperate man, the voice of the rational principle influences his words and motivates his actions. However, in the incontinent, irrationality and intemperance drive his motives. On one hand lies the temperate man, the champion of virtue; in the other, the lord of vice (Aristotle, Ethics Book I). Virtue itself is not bestowed upon us by nature, but perfected by habit. Both intellectual (reason) and moral (ethics) virtues...

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