Antigone has been immensely popular through ages. It has an irresistible appeal to modern mind. The heroine of the play is the first protestant in world’s history. Antigone is a woman who has prized truth above everything.
Creon, the King of Thebes has forbidden on pain of death the burial of the dead body of Polynices, eldest brother of Antigone. To the Greeks, respect for the dead was an article of faith.
Oedipus’ daughters Antigone and Ismene are living at Thebes under the guardianship of Creon. Polynices, with seven other heroes assaulted the seven gates of Thebes to ascend the throne. On the third day of the battle the two brothers Polynices and Etiocles fought against each other and both of them were killed.
Creon wanted to desecrate (to damage something sacred) the body of Polynices by exposing it to rain and the sun, at the mercy of beasts and birds. The king passes a decree that Polynices should lie in the dust, while Eteocles should be given decent burial. Antigone and Ismene are both devoted to their father and brothers. Antigone is much stronger and more courageous. She tells her sister that they should defy royal command and bury Polynices. Ismene, much milder tells her sister that any violation of the order of the king would bring death. Antigone decides to go ahead independently. She is stern, resolute and determined.
The Chorus consisting of the Theban elders appears on the scene and gives the audiences an idea of the out come of the battle. Creon comes to the stage. He seems to be a symbol of dignity and authority. He explains to the chorus why different treatment was meted out to the dead bodies of the two brothers. He appeals to the patriotic sentiments of the Thebean nobles. He appoints guards to keep watch upon the dead body of Polynices. Creon was severe and stern and devoid of the milk of human kindness.
One of the watchmen reports to Creon that some one has buried the body of Polynices....