Use of Light and Dark in Antigone
The "Golden Age" of Greece is noted for its many contributions to the creative world, especially in its development of the play. These performances strived to emphasize Greek morals, and were produced principally for this purpose. Antigone, by Sophocles, is typical. The moral focused on in Antigone is the conflict between physis (nature) and nomos (law), with physis ultimately presiding over nomos. Throughout Antigone, King Creon is a symbol for nomos, while Antigone stands on the side of physis. To portray these ideas, light and dark images are used as a recurring motif to reinforce the theme. Light is used to show something good that is happening, whereas dark is utilized to show something of which the gods disapprove. Following with tradition, this play uses light to portray what is right in the eyes of the chorus and darkness to reproach the other side. As the play is carried out, the chorus is constantly changing its opinions, first believing in the actions of Creon with respect to nomos, then unsure of what to believe, and finally seeing that Antigone's actions are more consistent with the morality of the gods and the truths of physis. Light and darkness are used to support in an emotional way the action of whoever the chorus is siding with at these various stages of the play.
It is clear that at the beginning of Antigone, the chorus favors the actions of Creon, or nomos. This is shown as Creon's intentions and retribution towards Polyneices are justified by jovial words and imagery involving light. In the battle between Eteocles and Polyneices, although both leaders were killed, Eteocles' army was the victor. To show that this was positive in the eyes of the gods, the first line of the Parodos in the Prologue refers to the battle as a "blade of sun". The morning following the battle was then called a "beautiful morning of victory". These are all positive feedback to the victory of Eteolces, and with the help of these light images, it is easy to identify the chorus' thoughts. Another praise to Creon is found in Ode I, where his law against burying Polyneices is referred to as "clear intelligence". In this instance, "clear" is used in the sense that it is easily visible, or obvious, making the statement positive for Creon. Later, in Ode I, the gods again side with Creon, as they refer to his decisions in lines 4 to 5, "Earth, holy and inexhaustible, is graven/With shining furrows where his plows have gone..." The gods are praising Creon; "shining furrows where his plows have gone" imply that he has left a good indent on matters that he has ruled on, in this case referring to the law against burying Polyneices. It is once again apparent that nomos is being favored by the chorus.
As the middle of Antigone approaches, the chorus seems to be unsure of whom to favor, and is torn between physis and nomos. Because of this, references to light and dark motifs in scenes two and three are ironic, and...