Sophocles Antigone: 441-442bc

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The period that Athens’ Sophocles lived in was a time of important changes to the traditional Greek ways of life. The most significant catalyst of change and concern of the period was democracy. From here stems ideas such as the nature, role and respect of and for the gods, and the individual. The drama of Antigone reflects these concerns in the context it was written through various ways.

Athens in the middle of the fifth century BC was at the peak of its power. It attracted foreigners, writers and artists through its wealth, customs and more importantly the freedom of a democracy. However, there was tension between Sparta and Greece. The Greeks, especially the Athenians, represented freedom, wisdom and moderation and strongly opposed to the tyrannical structure of Sparta.

Sophocles wrote Antigone under the influence of the traditional Athenian mindset during 441-442 BC. The Athenians’ victory at Salamis as well as the story of Thermopylae is just two examples which demonstrate values such as intelligence, wisdom, innovation, independence and moderation. The character of King Creon in Antigone juxtaposes these qualities with the characteristics of a classic tragic hero. Hubrisly, Creon challenges the gods by disrespecting the traditional laws of heaven. Despite his own professions “…that a king whose lips are sealed by fear, unwilling to seek advice, is damned,” Creon refuses the wisdom of his advisors until it’s too late to undo his foolish actions.

Devotion to the gods was a very important value in Athens, but at the time was also challenged by parts of society. The sequence of events in Antigone that lead to Creons downfall and corruption, hence tragedy, suggest a warning to those who dare challenge the laws of the gods. Furthermore, it proves that such behavior will infact be swiftly punished by the gods.

It is betrayal of values that lead to such behavior. A good example is Creons impulsive decision to order Antigones execution. On top of the...
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