Antigone Individual Vs. Laws O Essay

900 words - 4 pages

In Sophocles' "Antigone", the primary focus is on the concept of the individual versus the laws of authority within society. In "Antigone" the reader is challenged by the various conflicting morals that are presented. Antigone's predicament is one related to moral principles. She must decide whether or not she must act based on what she believes to be right or submit to the authority of her king. Throughout this play, Sophocles brings up the issue in question, the value of an individuals beliefs above society's laws. He develops for us the character of Antigone who must discover the true meaning of honor by choosing between divine law and laws of her city state. In Ancient Greece, after 800 B.C., new ideas came to the forefront concerning the governing of society. These ideas led to the development of the city states, large self governing towns. These city states were founded on the principles of freedom, optimism, secularism, rationalism and the glorification of the body and mind. Accompanying these principles was an obligation of fierce loyalty to the city state and a willingness to shed blood on it's behalf. Within this atmosphere of extreme loyalty, freedom was only enjoyed with the assumption that when the time came, every able bodied man would be willing to fight for his people. Indeed political leaders and local authority figures were usually heroes of war. Creon, the king in "Antigone", states that "Alive or dead, the faithful servant of his country shall be rewarded." This statement exemplifies the values within Greek culture. As the dictator of Thebes, Creon simply wants to enforce these values of loyalty. He sets the standard of his reign and makes a public example of Polyneices by not allowing anyone to give him a proper burial. Polyneices is considered an enemy of the state and Creon cannot allow any traitor to be honored, especially in death. In one of his first orations as king, Creon says "As God is my witness...no man who is his countries enemy shall call me a friend." By saying this Creon is exercising his authority and clearly stating his hatred for traitors. Later in the play, Antigone comes to be seen as a traitor by Creon because she openly disobeys his orders and gives Polyneices a burial. But what about Antigone's actions? Are they necessarily wrong? One might argue that Antigone's need for Polyneices to be buried was actually quite virtuous. After all he was her brother and she not only had family ties with him but she...

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