Antigone: Divine Law vs. Human Law

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  • Topic: Sophocles, Law, Unwritten Law
  • Pages : 5 (2111 words )
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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The play entitled Antigone was written by a man named Sophocles, a scholarly author of philosophy and logic. The play Antigone is probably one of the most prominent interpretations of a tragic drama. The two main characters of the play are Antigone and Creon. There is much conflict between Antigone and Creon throughout the play, both of them having their own ideas and opinions regarding divine law versus human law. The theme that I am going to analyze is the conflict of divine law vs. human law. The reason for this is because this theme seems to control the whole play. It is an issue of which law is the "right" law, and if Creon's and Antigone's acts were justifiable.The play Antigone can be summarized by the following: King Creon lets it be known that Polyneices the traitor is not to be buried, but his sister Antigone defies the order because of the values she holds. She is caught, and sentenced by Creon to be buried alive - even though she is to be married to his son Haemon. After the blind prophet Tiresias proves that the gods are on Antigone's side, Creon changes his mind - but too late. He goes first to bury Polyneices, but Antigone has already hanged herself. When Creon arrives at the tomb, Haemon attacks him and then kills himself. When the news of their death is reported, Creon's wife Eurydice takes her own life. Creon ends up being all alone due to the fact that his family members took their own lives. Creon blames himself for all of these tragedies occurring, mainly because it was his wrong doings that caused them.The concept of divine law can be described as the law of God. Divine law involves morals and beliefs that are presented by God. Charles Segal describes the idea of divine law as being the "unwritten laws of the Gods" (Sophocles 64). This type of law is most likely in effect when the idea of morals are apparent, such as when a moral decision must be made. This type of decision would probably be considered right or wrong. Divine law is not only in decisions, but also in the everyday actions of people. Things that are morally "right" are in accordance with the law of God, while things that are morally "wrong" tend to be actions that go against the law of God. Divine law may not apply to those who do not believe in God. Even those who do believe in God may not follow this type of law because they do not think that this law will have any type of impact upon their lives. Most people are very skeptical about whether or not the laws of god are truly upheld. Human law is the type of law that is set up to govern the land and the community. As it is stated on the internet site,, human law can be characterized as "rules of conduct of organized society, enforced by threat of punishment" ( "law"). Human law is usually set up by the head of a community or by the governors of the land. This type of law is normally enforced by people known as officers or guards. They make sure that the law of the land is followed accordingly. There are people in communities that do not follow the laws that are put into effect by humans. This is apparent in the play Antigone, when Antigone herself disobeys a law that was set up by King Creon, a law that went against the beliefs she held towards the law of the Gods. The issues between Antigone and Creon is what the whole play is basically all about. Charles Paul Segal wrote in his essay "Sophocles' Praise of Man and the Conflicts of the Antigone" that:The characters, like the play itself, have many levels which fuse organically, sometimes indistinguishably, into a complex unity; and here the confrontations of the two protagonists create an ever-ramifying interplay between interlocking and expanding issues (62).The issues that Antigone and Creon have between them are what ties this whole play together, and the theme is also developed with the use of their issues between each other and what they believe in....
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