Surely many have heard, at least with the edge of their ears, about the tragic fate of Antigone, defending the laws of the gods and facing trial according to the laws of man. But few people know about the details that led to a series of sad and irreversible events, which later became an integral part of works of art.
The main source for the history of Antigone is the tragedy of the same name by Sophocles, one of three famous Greek playwrights, the other two of whom are Aeschylus and Euripides.
Sophocles' Antigone continues the tragic trajectory set by Oedipus in his attempts to change his destiny. After Oedipus was expelled from Thebes, his two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, initially agreed to share the throne, alternating their reign every year. However, when the first year of Eteocles ended, he refused to transfer power to Polynicus. Polynices responded by gathering an army with the support of the king of Argos. Although Antigone tried to plead with her brother Polynices to cancel the attack, he did not listen to her.
Led by the Seven Champions against Thebes, the Argive army mercilessly and suddenly attacked the city walls. They suffered a crushing defeat, and the two brothers killed each other in battle, just as Oedipus had predicted. Former brother-in-law and uncle of Oedipus, Creon (Creon), became the new king of Thebes. He buried Eteocles with honor, but decreed that Polynices' body was to rot on the battlefield - the worst possible punishment.
Antigone and her sister Ismene were the last surviving members of their family. They lost both parents and brothers to a tragic fate. Antigone's story begins with her asking Ismene to meet with her in secret to tell her of Creon's decree that Polynices' body should remain unburied, serving as food for scavengers. Such heartlessness would leave his spirit languishing in limbo, unable to descend into the underworld as it should.
However, Ismene was the complete opposite of her strong-willed, stubborn sister. Quiet and humble, she feared Creon's wrath and refused to help Antigone with their brother's alleged burial. Despite her desperate attempts to scare and dissuade Antigone from her mission, her words only made her sister more angry. In the end, Antigone in anger sent her sister away from her, saying: “
The next morning the sun rose, and Polynices' body lay under a thin layer of mud. It may not have been completely buried, but that was enough to allow his soul to travel to the underworld. The terrified sentry ran to report to Creon just as the new ruler was declaring his commitment to justice and the rule of law to a group of supportive Theban elders. The people on duty the night before saw nothing and could not betray the culprit. The reporting sentry angered the king even more with his suggestion that perhaps this was the work of the gods. Creon released him with a short order to immediately find the culprit.
Although the sentry left in fear, he soon came up with a plan. Finding the body of Polyneices and hiding in ambush out of sight, he found Antigone at the time of his reburial and, having caught her, brought the girl to King Creon. Shocked by the meeting with his niece, Creon at first could not believe it. However, Antigone did not hesitate to confess her deeds, insisting that by breaking his laws, she supported the much more powerful laws of the gods. Creon ordered Ismene to be brought to him, accusing her of an equal share of the crime. Ismene tried to confess and join her sister in her death sentence, but according to Sophocles, Antigone refused to let her take the blame.
Creon ordered the girls to be taken to prison, deciding to execute Antigone, but has not yet decided the fate of Ismena. Later, Creon's son Heniosh, who had been engaged to Antigone, appeared before his father. At first pretending to sympathize with his father's decision, Henyosh first tried to defend Antigone's life with reason, but in Sophocles' Antigone he soon got into an ugly squabble with his father. Creon vowed to kill Antigone in front of Henyosh, but Henyosh fled the palace.
Realizing Ismena's innocence, Creon let her go. Instead of directly staining his hands with blood, he sentenced Antigone to confine her alive in a cave in the desert. … Antigone bravely but sadly took her place in the cave. The Thebans, who had previously supported Creon's firm decision, made up the choir of Sophocles Antigone, were touched by pity and sympathy for her.
Creon began to hesitate in his judgment only when he faced the blind oracle Teiresias (Tiresias), who insisted that the gods did not approve of his treatment of the corpse of Polyneices. But the king flared again with anger, accusing Teiresias of taking a bribe to say this. Teiresias replied sternly: Finally, touched by the long history of the veracity of the old prophet, Creon relented. He gathered some of his men and hastened to build a tomb for Polynices and free Antigone.
First they looked after Polynices' body. As he and his men approached the cave where he imprisoned Antigone, they heard Henyosh's mournful voice from within. They hurried to the entrance and froze when they saw Antigone hanged herself. Henyosh lay next to her, hugging her waist and mourning. Creon tried to ask for forgiveness, but Henyosh was adamant and spat in his father's face, rushed at him with his sword, but missed, stabbed himself.
By the time Creon returned to the city, carrying his only son in his arms, the messenger had already brought the message to Thebes. Creon came in with the news that his wife had also died, killing herself upon learning of Henyosh's suicide. Completely overwhelmed, Creon went to look at his wife's body, completely blaming himself for her loss, and the loss of his son.
In Sophocles' Antigone, the story ends with Creon's chief adviser telling the audience a lesson in the play: ".
In another, no less sad and tragic female fate, read the story about how the narcissistic Athena punished Arachneturning her into a spider.