Does Antigone Deserve To Be Punished?

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Xiaoqing Shi
Dr. Henry Bayerle
Classics 102Q
25 November 2011
Does Antigone Deserve to Be Punished?
Antigone has been acclaimed as a model that challenges authority and insists on just acts. However, according to Aristotle, a tragedy requires a man’s harmartia, which means error. Therefore, as a main character of a great tragedy, Antigone must possess flaws. Antigone’s self-certainty is one of her mistakes that contribute to her tragic fate. She regards burying dead people as absolute just behavior under any circumstance. This rite is important in Ancient Greek culture, but weather or not gods desire appropriate arrangement of Polyneices’ body is under question. It is Zeus that brings death to Polyneices because Polyneices brings war to his country and undermines the peace of Thebes. He “sought to consume utterly with fire the city of his fathers and the shrines of his father’s gods, -sought to taste of kindred blood, and to lead the remnant into slavery”. In Creon’s opinion, Polyneices is so wicked that even gods do not want to see him buried. When asked whether the gods have covered Polyneices’ body, Creon replies angrily that “was it for high reward of trusty service that they sought to hide his nakedness, who came to burn their pillared shrines and sacred treasures, to burn their land, and scatter its laws to the winds”. Creon ‘s opinions are reasonable before Teiresias gives out the correct interpretation of gods’ wills. If Antigone realized the limit of her wisdom, she would hesitate to kill herself and Haemon and Eurydice would not die either. Her self-certainty causes the whole tragedy in a sense. Not only Antigone’s action, but also her incentive to break the law is blamable. She claims that she buries her brother because of priority of divine law over human law. However, this explanation of piety motive is tenuous. She says that “never, had been a mother of children, or if a husband had been mouldering in death,...
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