Antigone: Moral Law vs. Political Law

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ANTIGONE
3 January 2013
Moral Law vs. Political Law

The theme of Antigone is the struggle between political law and moral law; the difference of following the law because it is the law and following one’s own morals because you feel it is what is right. The characters in Antigone face this struggle when confronted with Creon’s refusal of a burial for Antigone’s brother Polynices.
The ancient Greeks believed that without proper burial, entrance into the afterlife was forbidden. It is through her own moral standing that Antigone decides that burying her brother is the right thing to do no matter what the consequence. She asks her sister, Ismene, to help her bury Polynices. “You’ll soon show what you are, worth your breeding, Ismene? Or a coward- for all your royal blood.” She quickly discovers she does not have full support from Ismene. We see that Ismene sides more with political law than morals, “Think what a death we’ll die, the worst of all if we violate the laws and override the fixed decree of the throne, its power- we must be sensible. Remember we are women, we are not born to contend with men….so we must submit to this.” We can clearly see here the difference of political law vs. moral law with the sisters disagreement
When it comes to Creon’s opinions we must first remember what he has been through. His brother has mutilated his own face, his city has been attacked without notice, and his two nephews have died in the battle. We as readers disagree with his ban on Polynice’s burial, but try to understand that it his is experiences that drive him to side with political law. Creon gives proclamation that the city of Thebes is forbidden to bury Polynices, or even mourn him. He says, “He must be left unburied, his corpse carrion for the birds and dogs to tear, an obscenity for the citizens to behold!” “These are my principals. Never at my hands will the traitor be honored above the patriot. But whoever proves his loyalty to the state- I’ll prize that

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