October 7, 2010
Sophocles’ Antigone brings to life the underlying culture flaws in the Greek city-states by showing how the idea of filial piety and divine law undermine each other and were used as a means to justify the ends. Athenian citizens enjoyed a wide range of powers of self-governance: citizens elected military leaders and held judicial authority. Every male citizen enjoyed these rights. Women were not considered citizens; they were the wards of their closest living male relative. In Antigone, Sophocles clearly defines Antigone as the exact opposite of what any Athenian woman was expected to behave; obedient to man and state. Sophocles fashioned King Creon with an undoubtedly deadly dictatorial style of leadership, symbolic of Greek governance, which is the ultimate antithesis of Athenian values and ideals. In the opening, Ismene says to Antigone, "No, no, we must remember we were born women, not meant to strive with men." The impact of gender on the consequences Antigone suffered is prevalent in this city-state. Greek women were considered property. They were there to devote their lives to domestic chores and to serve their male head of household. Sophocles offers a new role for women with his clever depiction of Antigone. Antigone was a woman who portrayed everything a woman was not expected to be. She is a princess clearly in defiance of state, defiance of filial piety, but her defiance was met with acceptance among the city-states because Creon’s rule went against everything the Greeks built their belief system upon: divine law and filial piety. Sophocles brought together the two extreme, polar opposite forces to compare and contrast the ideals of filial piety and a king’s right to rule under divine law.
When Creon’s son confronts him about his decision to kill Antigone, he tells Creon no one in the state deems Antigone a criminal and his judgment was unjust even in the view of the Gods....
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