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Flashcards in Antigone Deck (39)
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1

thinks that Antigone is wholly right

Jebb 1902

2

maxims of government lose all validity when opposed to the higher law

Jebb 1902

3

thinks that Creon is wholly wrong

Jebb 1902

4

closes with a moral on the lips of the Chorus which tells the audience what to think (regarding wisdom)

Bowra 1944

5

Sophocles has taken great care to show the issues in their full difficulty before he provides a solution for them.

Bowra 1944

6

When a play is written round a moral issue, that issue must be a real problem about which more than one view is tenable until all the relevant facts are known.

Bowra 1944

7

Believes that Hegel was writing as he did due to innate German nationalistic views

Knox 1982

8

his (Hegel's) views on loyalty to the state were very much those of Creon. “Creon,” he says, “is not a tyrant, he is really a moral power. He is not in the wrong.”

Knox 1982

9

Creon is forced at last to recognize the strength of those social and religious imperatives that Antigone obeys, but long before this happens he has abandoned the principles which he had proclaimed as authority for his own actions.

Knox 1982

10

Antigone, on her side, is just as indifferent to Creon’s principles of action as he is to hers

Knox 1982

11

Unlike Creon, who after proclaiming the predominance of the city’s interests rides roughshod over them, speaking and acting like a tyrant, who after extolling the city’s gods dismisses Tiresias, their spokesman, with a blasphemous insult, Antigone does not betray the loyalties she spoke for. No word of compromise or surrender comes to her lips, no plea for mercy.

Knox 1982

12

This figure of the tragic hero [. . .] seems, as far as we can tell from what remains of Attic tragedy, to have been a peculiarly Sophoclean creation. In his plays he explores time and again the destinies of human beings who refuse to recognize the limits imposed on the individual will by men and gods, and go to death or triumph, magnificently defiant to the last.

Knox 1982

13

Antigone asked the gods to punish Creon if he was wrong [975–79], and they have. They have shown to all the world that her action was right.

Knox 1982

14

in certain heroic natures unmerited suffering and death can be met with a greatness of soul which, because it is purely human, brings honor to us all.

Knox 1982

15

I should like to claim that there is at least some justification for the Hegelian assimilation—though the criticism needs to be focused more clearly and specifically than it is in Hegel’s brief remarks. I want to suggest that Antigone, like Creon, has engaged in a ruthless simplification of the world of value which effectively eliminates conflicting obligations. Like Creon, she can be blamed for refusal of vision. But there are important differences, as well, between her project and Creon’s. When these are seen, it will also emerge that this criticism of Antigone is not incompatible with the judgment that she is morally superior to Creon.

Nussbaum 1986, 2001

16

Antigone’s rigid adherence to a single narrow set of duties (family dead) has caused her to misinterpret the nature of piety itself, a virtue within which a more comprehensive understanding would see the possibility of conflict.

Nussbaum 1986, 2001

17

Creon’s strategy of simplification led him to regard others as material for his aggressive exploitation. Antigone’s dutiful subservience to the dead leads to an equally strange, though different (and certainly less hideous) result.

Nussbaum 1986, 2001

18

We have, then, two narrowly limited practical worlds, two strategies of avoidance and simplification. In one, a single human value has become the final end; in the other, a single set of duties has eclipsed all others.

Nussbaum 1986, 2001

19

it seems clear that Antigone’s actual choice is preferable to Creon’s. The dishonour to civic values involved in giving pious burial to an enemy’s corpse is far less radical than the violation of religion involved in Creon’s act.

Nussbaum 1986, 2001

20

Antigone’s pursuit of virtue is her own. It involves nobody else and commits her to abusing no other person.

Nussbaum 1986, 2001

21

Sophocles’ Antigone is an easy play for moderns, even modern classicists, to get wrong. We are likely to see Antigone as the champion of moral right, or con-science, or religion against the authority of the state, as represented by Creon. She is then a martyr for a cause, and our age is rather drawn to causes and martyrs.

Holt 1999

22

We need to consider not so much what Greeks thought and felt generally as how they are likely to have thought and felt under the conditions of a tragic performance, this tragedy in particular. Hence the “tragedy” part of my title: a discussion of how decent Greek opinion fares over the course of the Anti-gone (part III) and a coda on how it might fare in tragedy generally (part IV). Tragedy is the polis’ partner in an intricate dialogue. She has her own agenda and her own ways of making her points, some of them quite sly, and she is rather more on Antigone’s side than the polis is. The main burden of this essay is to understand better her side of the conversation, an area where history-minded critics, straining to catch the voice of the polis, often miss things.

Holt 1999

23

Athenian law forbade the burial of traitors and sacrilegious people in Athenian territory.

Holt 1999

24

To sum up, in fifth-century terms Creon is within his rights as the leader of his polis, and his ban on burying Polyneices is a reasonable sanction. In fifth-century terms, Antigone’s defiance of that ban is seriously, perhaps even shockingly, out of line: an individual defying due authority in the polis, in time of crisis, on behalf of a national enemy, and moreover a woman defying due male authority.

Holt 1999

25

“The wide range of ideals, eccentricities and obsessions which we nowadays amalgamate under the name of ‘conscience’ did not seem to Greeks to be good reasons for defying the law.” Religion was focused more on prayer and ritual than on beliefs and ethical demands, more apt to produce traditionalists and conformists than dissidents and martyrs. Far from providing a basis for criticizing the polis, religion was an integral part of it.

Holt 1999

26

Polyneices’ burial is not an event in real life. It is part of a tragic drama, which is to say, it is presented to the audience by the playwright in a certain way and observed by the audience under certain conditions.

Holt 1999

27

the structure of Sophocles’ drama—his arrangement and presentation of events, the playwright’s devices for getting his story across—does much to encourage sympathy for Antigone, undercutting the shock and condemnation that her action would likely arouse in real life.

Holt 1999

28

see the play as a progression of complications, with Creon's position undermined bit by bit. The outcome is not clear from the start, but we can see it coming as the play goes on. Tragic complications encroach more and more upon the dictates of the polis. Sophocles first deals Creon a strong hand and then has us watch him lose with it.

Holt 1999

29

Antigone has had the chance to strike the first blow, and she has done it well, passionately, and dramatically. The audience may well sympathize with her, not necessarily because they would agree with her, but because shock and distress seen up close arouse sympathy. Ismene’s objections, although often underrated, do not erase this. Creon comes to the plate with one strike against him.
Despite Antigone’s preemptive strike, Creon's opening address to the Chorus gives him every chance to look good in the audience’s eyes. The Chorus has just given thanks to the gods for delivering Thebes from great danger, and their song has reminded us vividly of the impiety and violence of Polyneices’ army, the sufferings that awaited the Thebans had they lost the battle

Holt 1999

30

the question is raised whether Thebes is in good hands, and the answer is not altogether satisfactory....all through the play the merits of Creon's edict (as distinguished from his authority to impose it) go unsupported by anybody but him. Saying that he has the power or the right to command something is not the same as saying that it is a good idea. ...The ruler does not come off well, for he meets the challenge with anger, error, and obstinacy.

Holt 1999