Dr. Fidel Fajardo-Acosta's

World Literature Website













Staged around 441 BC

Language & Form

Tragedy. Ancient Greek original. Recommended English translations by Elizabeth Wyckoff, Robert Fagles.


Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, disobeys the orders of Creon, king of Thebes, who forbids the burial of her brother Polyneices, a traitor to the city. After Antigone buries Polyneices, Creon condemns her to death and has her buried alive in a cave. Though warned by the prophet Tiresias, Creon sticks to his decree. Creon eventually yields and decides to free Antigone but he arrives at the cave too late -- Antigone has hanged herself and is already dead. Creon's son, Haemon, who had been engaged to marry Antigone, is enraged at his father and, failing to kill him, kills himself. Creon's wife also commits suicide.

Main Issues

play about the repetition and continuation of the errors of the past

Creon embodies the same faults (blindness, arrogance, rashness) that once were Oedipus's

Antigone too, in many ways, resembles her father and embodies his flawed character

very pessimistic outlook on human history and the human capacity to learn from the mistakes of the past

the play can also be read for its portrayal of Antigone as a heroic figure, courageously standing against tyranny and injustice

Study Questions

Why is Antigone so insistent on burying the body of her brother Polyneices? Is she aware of the punishments which Creon has promised for anyone attempting such a burial? Are her actions heroic? In what way?

Is the choice of burying Polyneices symbolic in some way? What does that choice express? What seems to be most important to Antigone? What does she give up in making her choices? What are her alternatives? Are her possible choices related to a structured set of thematic oppositions in the play?

Why does she call her tomb a "bridal-bed"? Is she referring to Haemon? If not then who is she marrying?

How would you describe the character of Antigone? What evidence can we gather in this respect from an examination of her dialogues with her sister Ismene and with Creon? Does she have anything in common with her father Oedipus? What?

Do Antigone's choices have anything in common with the choices and situations in Oedipus's life? Is Antigone's tragic fate the result of an inevitable destiny or does she make choices which contribute to the fulfillment of that fate?

Are there any noticeable changes in the character of Creon in Antigone as compared with his role in Oedipus the King? What is the significance of those changes in connection with the events which lead up to his son's and his wife's suicides?


to come

Recommended Reading

to come

© 2001, 2002 by Fidel Fajardo-Acosta, all rights reserved


This page designed and maintained by Fidel Fajardo-Acosta, © 2001