The Second Burial of Polyneices Author(s): Joseph S. Margon Source: The Classical Journal, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Oct. - Nov.

, 1972), pp. 39-49 Published by: The Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3296026 Accessed: 11/08/2009 03:54
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"Studies in Sophocles.2 they face the difficulty of explaining why Consequently. 86. She suggest had done that (245). let alone undertake the burial by herself. D. Greek tragedy. Sophocles: the plays and fragments "Antigone." CJ 64 (1969) 289-295. 4Jebb. op. Cowser. Harry. ad 429. The heroic temper (Berkeley 1964). all of which have failed to provide an exegesis of the burials that is entirely consistent with the factual details found in the text. ser." Part III. M. Kitto. p. p. op. Form and meaning in drama (New York 1960). A. Frankfort (New York 1965). Many scholars regard both burials as symbolic rather than as makeshift attempts at actual and physical inhumation. she had not brought the xoai. (1) The prologue has revealed Ismene as too timorous even to assist Antigone. cit. and Harry.1 The different views regarding the very nature of the burials have given rise to many and varied interpretations of her motivation. J. p. The opposing evidence is weighty. Albin Lesky. H. why does she appeal for Antigone's sanction with the words elIrep i6' booppoOce (536)? (3) If Ismene is responsible for the first sepulture and Antigone only for the second. Cf. 125-127. or Antigone with the aid of the gods buried Polyneices. Was it not. "The first burial of Polyneices. at her first visit." CR 25 (1911) 40-42. e'irep rTia aitria `6' bMoppoOeK. . L. 86. was the first to recognize this inconsistency and to a solution: "The essence of the symbolic rite was the sprinkling of dust. p.35) the passer-by is free when the dirt has been thrown. assign the first burial to Ismene: Antigone. 60. n. The reader would have the right to see some significance in this fact in addition to a more complex development of Ismene's character and a greater role for her in the play. goes to the corpse. the gods. without exception. 3rd ed. The only textual support for their view is Ismene's statement: 56epaKa TroVpyo. A. / KaCt [UveeTaXW KatL Tppw (536-537). "The problem of the second burial in Sophocles' Antigone.28. "The shaping of the Antigone. See G." Proceedings of the Classical Association 36 (1939) 38-40. Margon. E. Bernard Knox. J." CJ 47 (1952) 219-221. though both had committed the same act. (Amsterdam 1962). Antigone revisits the body when she has already accomplished her purpose with the first burial. thinking to bury it for the first time. apparently. "The two burials in Antigone. Rose. Rouse. see Joseph S. and A. p. Waldock.. for his remarks on this far-fetched interpretation. D. he can go his way. 27 (1911) 20-25.3 Jebb. 2Richard Jebb. The only answer which I can suggest is that. F. 1.. For the performance of the first sepulture by Antigone alone. transl. below. cit. 104. then. 71. 64.THESECOND BURIALOF POLYNEICES HE LONG AND INCONCLUSIVE DEBATE concerning the second burial of Polyneices in Sophocles' Antigone has." Univ. p. and the other would be punished. p. H. Sophocles the dramatist (Cambridge 1951). J. 140-142. 3Because of this apparent lack of motivation. H. n. a confusing situation would arise in the culmination of the play: one sister would go free. of Cincinnati Studies. ad 429. Kirkwood. W. I have never seen this question put or answered. A study of Sophoclean drama (Ithaca 1958). J. unaware of what her sister has done. done once for all? In Horace (C. (2) If Ismene actually performed the burial."4 IThe problem of the first burial is whether Antigone. centered on the problem of finding a motive for Antigone's return to her brother's corpse. both Rouse. See n.

n. to signify that "the man who took the first watch of this day" was "the first who had watched at all. would have made the greatest visual contribution to the almost supernatural appearance of the burial. however. it is possible to consider 6Ltia as an ornamental epithet. 203. a. Therefore. 43. We see the same phrase. Jebb takes the words b TrpJ)TO r/l. WTLt6t'av Odiaqc fer3Ke KCat XPc a KtpayLtoreToaqc Xpri (247).. understands 6)t'ia KOdVt to indicate CJ 37 (1942) 516-517. they would surely have seen Antigone and apprehended her. moreover. Jebb's explanation of Antigone's motive for revisiting the body seems forced and weak." 349. "The watchmen scenes in the Antigone. Knox.11 Otherwise.J 1-99. Still. I. Messemer. 7Jebb. the absence of libations. moreover. The guard in his report of that burial declares (245-247): Kal 677 ortTOr VKpOV Tltc &pTtL / XEycA c / KOVwL rraXviva Kabpaytoarvcaaoca Xpni. p. see Margon. had they been present. "'lhe double burial of Polyneices.7 It is not likely.10 He concludes. n. 9')ebb. p. 57. n. art. oW. Bradshaw. The reason for his diffidence is plain: there is no suggestion in the text that the Xoai are missing from the first burial. for it would be absurd of the guards to accuse each other of complicity in the burial (259-267). p. 180-181. Jebb interprets these words to mean the offering of flowers and wool. when he returns to his post and the dust is removed from the body (407-410). The meaning. 'Iaking Ismene's words ev VVKT7i vV (16) to mean "last night. n. 57. p. which are used to describe the man who discovers the burial. p. except for the covering of dust. p. & which surely would have been removed. in the guard's description of the second burial (429). K&ipavoarevuaa XP7j.ii. seems to indicate the performance of all the requisites of burial. makes no mention of the removal of flowers and wool.12 To support this interpretation.epooK6OTro (253)." CQ 12 (196(2) 208.. of b 1TpOJtOo pE?poo K07roc can hardly sustain the interpretation that the man who discovered the burial was "the first who had watched at all". I. 13 Ibid. 8. including the necessary libations. He misconstrues the time and circumstances of Antigone's first visit."14 Given its proper meaning."9 Jebb believes 7Tn that the prologue opens at dawn. II. that the guard in his detailed description of the first burial (249-258) would have failed to include the obvious presence of flowers and wool. n.8 The guard. An even more damaging flaw makes Jebb's interpretation of the second burial virtually untenable. however. that Antigone must have performed the first burial in the early morning light before the guards had taken up their watch over the body. . it seems probable. Edward J. 14Bradshaw.Id 245 f. then. X:or the guard's motive in making the first burial seem as extraordinary as possible. A. I()lcbb. and on this occasion it is absolutely certain that the xoaL were poured (430-431). 253 f. n. MARGON Jebb makes no attempt to explain why Antigone did not bring the libations and he offers his solution with little conviction. testifies to the presence ofxoaCat the first burial. 15 f. which."1 3 More recent scholarship has argued convincingly for translating Tr 'v VVKT7\ vtv "in the present night. (f. Schmid in Schmid-Stahlen.6The phrase. n. 253 f. von S. had its discovery been made when they had just 5cf. 3. 293. p. Gescbichte der griechiscben Literatur (Munich 1959). Therefore.40 JOSEPH S. 1Ilebb. cit. (f. the phrase places the dramatic time of the prologue at night. a 12 lbiid. p. 56. a.

their mother of incest. Hulton. But we should probably view her remark in quite a different light. unlike Jebb. Antigone in her opening speech has spoken of the evils deriving from Oedipus (1-6).THE SECOND BURIAL OF POLYNEICES 41 come on duty for the first time. that the performance of libations (I umeni ides 107-109) and burial (Troades 446) were improper at night. voa KTpVtnS rdTce (86-87). Cowser. as she had before. and their brothers of fratricide." Linforth. 5 (1961) 194. 17There is some evidence. secondly. accomplish the first sepulture. considers the nature of the burials symbolic and. A goal of defiance on Antigone's part. for Antigone's ability to escape the detection of the guards.17 and make her escape. too. p. 16See Margon. Antigone can ameliorate a bit the reputation of her family. Ismene has enumerated these evils in somewhat greater detail (49-57): their father was guilty of parricide and incest. Knox. which Jebb does not use. perhaps a sense of the inadequacy of the first attempt is what brings her back a second time. O'it0lot. an intention which. 202-203. n. (.16 Jebb's failure to recognize that Antigone performed the first burial in darkness when the guards were on duty leaves his interpretation of the second buriaf with a question of major significance which he has neither perceived nor answered: why does Antigone rely on the concealment of a dust storm to revisit the body in daylight (415-431) instead of waiting for the protection of night which she had used so successfully to elude the guards. like Jebb.18 J. but only if she gains recognition as the person responsible for the burial. p. 180-181. Ivan Linforth. makes no attempt to distinguish the nature of the burials and is content with Jebb's explanation of Antigone's second visit. does not make it clear if he thinks the burials symbolic. 200. he believes. looks upon the performance of libations as Antigone's reason for returning: "The real burial they lAntigone and Ismene] might have successfully completed together must now be replaced by a burial which Antigone will carry out alone. The two sisters are the only members who have not committed acts of sacrilege and sin. and if Antigone was willing to transgress custom by burying her brother at night. notwithstanding the concealment of the dust storm. p. though placing the action of the prologue and the performance of the burial at night. in all probability libations were made at the initial burial (see second paragraph. 43. in daylight. follows Jebb in thinking that the guards take up their post in the light of dawn.15 Nor would the guard have been so hesitant and reluctant to appear before Creon (223-236) unless he feared ounishment for the lack of vigilance which had permitted Antigone to bury the body. she would hardly shrink from the impropriety of pouring nocturnal libations. had Antigone as much concern for her safety as Hulton implies. 64. to pour libations on the corpse she has only managed to cover with a light film of dust (256). her words. Bradshaw. 201. believes in the symbolic nature of the burials but. "Tlhe double burial of the Antigone. the circumstances of the Antigone are not those of an ordinary death and sepulture. A. above)." Mnemosyne 16 (1963) 284-285. he thinks the first burial complete with libations. need not be construed as an expression of open defiance of Creon but rather as regard for her family. (f. 39. "Antigone and Creon. .19 He attributes Antigone's motive for her second visit merely to her wish to display open defiance of Creon. 15Cf." University of (california publications in classical philology 15. p. p. Nor does he specify whether the first burial occurred at night or in the day. He agrees with Jebb. but is by no means inexplicable. that libations were not offered the first time and suggests (p. Bradshaw. she expresses to Ismene when she claims that she wants to be known as the doer of the deed (86-87). however. eav pri iraoc Therefore. 18Knox. KaTavba' 7roXX6v 0xONcwv / otycZa'. Antigone may well have been prudent enough to consider two short visits safer than one. 19Cowser. rather than in broad daylight. she would surely have chosen to go to the body at night. p. Cf. p. Even if this rather inconclusive evidence is correct." This view is patently inadmissible on two counts: first. no. 285) a reason for their omission: "Why the libation was not poured the first time remains unexplained. 291. With the opportunity to perform what she considers a noble deed (38-39).

23 He suggests that she comes back to the corpse. of Greek funerary customs.27 The inability of those scholars who regard the burials as symbolic to find a plausible motivation for Antigone's second visit to the body has led others to take a different view of the nature of the burials. nor does he deny that Antigone poured xoa( the first time.22 what is Antigone's purpose in repeating the burial and why does she not just give herself up after the first sepulture? To surrender herself would certainly satisfy the requirement of displaying deliberate courage. like Jebb (see third paragraph. ob aTTraL(oavTroC eepaivero 26Rose.p. p. moreover. since she works in isolation. then. to Creon says: arlieTa 6' o'ure O0rp6O OVTC TOV KVVUV / IX0O6vroq. which Sophocles must have found it necessary to introduce for other reasons.28 At the same time 20Cowser. 204. inhumation. Cf. as Cowser claims. her own report. 28-29. there is need of a witness to report her action in a messenger's speech. p. L. art. above). 219. J. 40. p. 220. Even Cowser is hesitant to push this feature of his interpretation too far: "We cannot say that the double burial was introduced in order to convince us that Antigone was a defiant rebel. 17. 25See Bradshaw. 24Rose. it was traditional to make repeated libations as nourishment for the spirit of the dead.21 If. Tecbzik des Sophokles (Berlin1917). of what she has done would surely represent open defiance of Creon. it seems rather that the rebellious aspects of her deed are brought to light to justify the double burial. once it has been performed. his disregard of these conspicuous difficulties makes his explanation of her return to the body inadequate. 209. 39. though temporary. p. 27Rose never argues the possibility that it was improper to offer libations at night. cit. the evidence against her must be complete. commits the mistake of placing the first burial in the light of dawn rather than at night. p. prepared to offer additional libations. moreover. just as people today visit a grave to bring flowers.. Tycho von Wilamowitz looks upon the first burial not only as symbolic but also as an actual. MARGON moreover. see Bradshaw. 219. 23Rose. his neglecting to explain Antigone's urgency to revisit the body in daylight and her readiness to trust the uncertain concealment of a dust storm rather than wait for the already proven protection of darkness spoils his suggestion of additional libations as a possible motive for her return to the corpse. See n. Even if one agreed with Cowser's highly questionable view of Antigone as a defiant rebel.25 But Rose.p. libations were made the first time and a symbolic burial cannot be invalidated.4 From what we know.26 Consequently. The guardin his first report 28i)ie dramatiscbe (257-258). Rose also views the burials as symbolic. above. would conflict harshly with her own single-minded perception of her deed when she says: Oi'VTovv'XOetv.42 JOSEPH S. attempts to infer these reasons from the additional advantages that two burials give to the characterization of Antigone and the action of the play: her deed demands speed and at the same time a display not of spasmodic but deliberate courage. . however. a\aXXovlltplCkev Eopvv (523). 21Ibid. Margon. p. For the effectiveness of the first burial as protection for the body. 294. 22Cowser."20 Cowser. since it is effective in protecting the body from the depredations of animals. her confession would make the evidence against her complete and likewise eliminate the need of a messenger speech. especially since it would be beyond his power to undo the symbolic rite.

After the first episode the reader knows what Creon and the chorus cannot even guess: Antigone is the transgressor of the edict. Cf. 33-34. A. p. captured during the first burial. the initial meeting between Creon and Antigone would not be climactic. 157. And even if we accepted Wilamowitz's interpretation. 31Two other advantages. it would be almost insurmountably difficult to reveal clearly." Univ. Without his domination of a whole episode early in the play. represents a glaring instance of faulty dramaturgy for which we generally condemn a play. this telescoping of the dramaturgy would have produced an extremely confusing effect. Cf. to find any motive for Antigone's returning to the corpse. which Wilamowitz fails to mention. E.igm. (2) A second burial allows for a gradual and suspenseful buildup of the situation. This difference in knowledge leads the reader to look forward with anticipation both to the surprise that awaits Creon and the chorus and to the confrontation of the two main characters. does not consider the nature of the burials nor Antigone's motivation but. fully. for an unmotivated incident. should be noted: (1) Ihe interval of time offered by a second burial permits Creon to dominate the first episode. and Creon's and the chorus' reaction to Antigone's capture. regards the performance of libations as an excuse for a second burial that affords the play as a whole important benefits.THE SECOND BURIAL OF POLYNEICES 43 he believes the burial complete with all due religious observances. . the play would lose its balance and fall into two distinct parts which would disrupt its unity of form. we would still have to admit that a second burial without legitimate thematic motivation. 32Wilamowitz. and dramatically in one scene Creon's motive for denying the burial. Kitto. p.32 But it is hardly sound for a critic to interpret a work on the basis of what others may have missed instead of on his own observations. Wilamowitz excuses Antigone's lack of motivation for a second visit to the corpse on the grounds that this omission would escape the notice of so uncritical an audience as that of fifth-century Athens. 33-34. Owens. (2) a single burial could never have disclosed so forcibly the intensity of Antigone's determination to bury her brother.to quarterly 5 (1935-1936) 229-231. created no matter for what reason. since Antigone is not present. p. if it is to be well constructed. the chorus' attitude toward both his edict and the unknown transgressor of it. is satisfied to look only to the advantages of two burials in revealing Creon's reaction. his part would be too foreshortened to sustain the significance of his role in the last third of the play when Antigone is gone from the stage. Without this gradual building of the situation. destroys the organic unity which a work. 30Wilamowitz. Kitto. however theatrical and advantageous to the drama as a whole.29 Unable. p. following a line similar to Wilamowitz's. if characterization and incident do not work 29Wilamowitz. of loro. T. "Sophokles' political tragedy. Calder III. above) that the xoai are missing from the first burial. 31. "Sophocles the dramatist.3 Wilamowitz argues: (1) If Antigone had been brought back by the guard. 156-158. William M." GRBS 9 (1968) 397-398. p. he sees the second burial as an exciting theatrical incident which serves the purpose of lending dramatic clarity to the play's form and greater suspense to its action. Lacking a proper foundation for Creon's prominence in the conclusion of the drama.31 Having pointed out these undeniable advantages which a second burial confers on the play. content to accept Jebb's view (see first paragraph. must possess.u' . however.

The most serious obstacle. p. He views Antigone as first going to the corpse to give it actual protection from animals and later returning to perform the 4 In necessary symbolic rites. for a merely symbolic action. the phrase probably includes the pouring of libations (see second paragraph. above. for the performance of libations. 17. Max Pohlenz. 35Struck. in keeping with his theory. 82. p.37 In contrast to the aforementioned scholars. 34Erdmann Struck. 40Bradshaw.35 As we have seen. seventh paragraph. p. p. p. to show why Antigone. 333. n. p. later. however. to our accepting Struck's interpretation is his failure. moreover. nevertheless adopts his concept of the nature of the first burial and develops it further in an attempt to provide the missing motivation. Rose's view. Burial is normally a Isingle act of piety. like Jebb's and Rose's. . MARGON reciprocally. like all Greek tragedies is predicated on a development of incidents and characters according to probability or necessity. Cf. 209. T. 208. Cf.38 This view marks a fine but significant difference from Wilamowitz's concept of the earlier burial as dual in nature. 3 3 These are the very reasons that first led Jebb and later others to seek a motive for the second burial. 37Struck. however. 80.39 He explains the motive for Antigone's second visit in this fashion: "The purpose of eirttvt53tLot is Xoai such that even if Antigone had already offered them once. and if anything appeared motivated improbably or unnecessarily. believes in the performance of libations the first time and in the effectiveness of that sepulture as protection for the corpse. Bradshaw. Pohlenz. recognizing the inadequacy of Wilamowitz's interpretation. if any incident or character were developed through probability or necessity. von S. 204.44 JOSEPH S.41 Bradshaw explains Antigone's returning in daylight by suggesting that Sophocles uses the dust storm to reenforce the credibility 33Aristotle's dicta in the Poetics regarding the need for probability or necessity in the development of the incidents of the plot (1451b9-1452alO) and in the portrayal of character (1454a15) are strictures that have to do with the credibility of a work. Bradshaw contends that the Greeks of the fifth century made no distinction between an actual and symbolic burial. Struck is forced to take KctpaLaytTevaa? & Xpr (247) to mean only the strewing of dust at the first burial. when she had previously escaped the guards under the cover of night.40 Understanding the importance of darkness to the success of the first burial. and yet it is credible. an Athenian audience would still find it perfectly natural for her to offer them again. Erdmann Struck. 329-330. A. It is a mistake to think of xoat simply as one of the elements in the ritual of burial. 39Bradshaw. because he correctly places the time of the first burial at night with the guards at their post." Gymnasium 60 (1953) 333. See n. 201-203. above). whereas libation is the repeated offering of nourishment to the spirit of the departed for a considerable time after death. Eugene Ionesco's The bald soprano is a play in which nothing develops from probability or necessity. 38Bradshaw. Cf. "Der zweimalige Gang der Antigone zur Leiche des Polyneikes. credibility would be destroyed. Die griechische Tragodie: Erlauterungen (Gottingen 1954). The Antigone. 36Struck makes no attempt to support his view with the impropriety of pouring libations at night. 1. felt the need of such haste that she returned during the day. p. 204. support of his belief. above. 41Bradshaw. p. whereas the Ionesco play would lose its credibility.36 This difficulty is all the more apparent in Struck's account. for that notion allowed Struck to argue for inhumation at one time and. The distinction in the maintenance of credibility in these two plays is due to the difference in their frames of reference. p. a play loses its credibility.

first paragraph. above. above) and the certainty of libations at the second (431) represent a symbolic aspect of burial. and only in the description of the second burial. since Bradshaw himself has proved with much stronger arguments that the earlier sepulture takes place at night But the main flaw in Bradshaw's view is his error in taking a with the guards present. n. ad 429. while it may enhance the credibility of the first burial. 44Bradshaw. to my knowledge. but he dismisses it as support for his view of the second burial. Instead.35 (see Jebb's n. the performance of recurring libations seems improbable as the motive for her return. p.45 Of the various theories regarding the nature of the burials. cit. the 42Bradshaw. What does appear. above). p.44 Because Bradshaw cannot provide her with a reason for preferring to make her second visit during a dust storm in the daylight rather than waiting for the night.THE SECOND BURIAL OF POLYNEICES 45 ot her previous action in eluding the guards: "Why should not Antigone have reached the body unobserved under the cover of darkness when she does so later in the daylight under cover of that very convenient dust-storm . has combined a portion of Cowser's interpretation (see fifth and sixth paragraphs. 518-520. If the corpse of Polyneices is hidden from sight. Cf. In rejecting the first sepulture as symbolic. that both burials are physical and actual and not at all symbolic. 43Loc. above) with part of Bradshaw's and Rose's (see seventh paragraph. p. her previous success would seem to indicate to Antigone that the night was the most suitable time for a safe return to the corpse. on her first visit. unseen. is really superfluous as supporting testimony... 41."4 The dust storm. . above. Such a view might claim that Antigone chooses the daylight for her second visit both to display open defiance of Creon and. particularly through the characterization of Antigone. scholars have considered least promising the one remaining possibility. placing the emphasis on her defiance of Creon rather than on her devotion to her brother. Messemer has tried to prove that both burials are not symbolic but attempts at actual and physical inhumation. J. H. to offer additional libations for the last time. 46Messemer. dramatic effect. however. but it is one thing to scatter three handfuls of Tptorov6otLt rTOV dust over a body and quite another to crown a corpse with thrice-poured libations. In (255) to describe. Messemer points out as well that the three handfuls of dust mentioned in the Horatian poem do not appear in the play at all. Messemer stresses the guard's use of the word rpavoVtaro his discovery of the first burial. This interpretation. The storm is a dramatic necessity to account for Antigone's reaching the corpse unobserved on her first visit. are the words XoaLct vKvv oar&pet (431). It is unthinkable to credit Antigone herself with choosing the concealment of a dust storm in the daylight simply for the sake of demonstrating to an audience that the obscurity of night had made it possible for her to reach the body.46 he dismisses Horace C.. 45No one. as the guard says. The reason for their reluctance to reach this conclusion is obvious: the probable pouring of Xoa at the first burial (see second paragraph. Herodotus employs the same expression to depict how a band of Persians vanished in a sandstorm (3. mentions the evidence against the propriety of the performance of libations (Eumenides 107-109) and of burial (Troades 446) at night. would alter the meaning of the play. as Antigone's reason for performing a second burial during the day. above) as too distant in time and culture to be used as authority for a Greek burial custom of the fifth century. even though. 208. fully expecting to be caught. however.26). on addition. fourth and fifth paragraphs. Nevertheless. how the dust covered the body. n. 17.. Cf.28. 202. 1. which would merely benefit the credibility of an earlier part of the play. above.

79. 48Ibid. So runs Messemer's view. it certainly was a second time. Greek tragedy. 522. The Greek tragic poets. Then the guard speaks of it (257-258): arlpeta 6' ovre ob Or?p6 07TE TOVKVVPjv/ EXO0WToc. above). D. somehow. comments on the city's approval of Antigone (692-695) for protecting the body of her brother (696-698): T v i ro 7reTrTTCr' vXOatoiarrTl ea' KrVp KOw/ C 'Oaraov v Xepo eovpova / 7Tt7-rov av'rrie abvTaE e' eOa 7' v Tr7oq. the body assuredly must be covered with more than three handfuls of dust. (1) Does Antigone know. time after time. 1025-1026. this rather impressive argument appears to point emphatically to protection of the body as Antigone's motive for both burials. If it was worth her life once. The fact that not just Antigone Finally. If this were a valid practice. 3rd ed. 51Messemer. H. Next Creon mentions it (205-206): eav 6' 'aOa1Tov Kati 7rpoC oiovcwv bi uas / KaL7Trpoq KVvc7v beor(aT aiKaOe6v T' i6bev." CQ [19591 80-114). or that in all three works Orestes has the same motive for the murders? . cannot invalicate a symbolic burial. There is some question about the genuineness of the conclusion of the Septem (see D. Messemer fails to realize the unsoundness of borrowing motivation from one play to verify the motivation for the same incident in another. Since Messemer credits the first burial with effectiveness as protection for the body. and 1040-1041 from Acschylus' Septem to support his proof of Antigone's motive for the burials in the Sophocles work. because Messemer has neglected to explain numerous and important details which weaken or. p. she would. p. contradict his view. the action of the guards in uncovering the body after the first burial is telling proof of their purpose to ensure the ravaging of the corpse. 1018-1019. Lloyd Jones. but genuineness here is beside the point. Teiresias expresses the ultimate horror that has brought a sickness upon the 47Messemer. the Furies will pursue him just as in the Oresteia and just as it is suggested in the conclusion of Euripides' Electra. "The end of the Seven Against Thebes. were rendered inadequate or useless. n. 2nd ed. at the risk of her own life. Numerous references to the burial are followed immediately with mention of defilement by birds and dogs. H. 1. moreover. makes no effort to solve any of the puzzling details of the second burial. what is to prevent anyone from assuming. This is a dramatic fact.47 he accordingly attributes Antigone's motive for her second visit to her desire to afford the corpse continued protection from defilement by animals: "If. state. Lucas.46 JOSEPH S.. characteristically. after Orestes has committed the second murder. p. Kitto.49 Since the removal of dust. but he does concur to a great extent in his opinion of Antigone's motive: "What Sophocles emphasizes. for instance. run the same risk once again.. Antigone is the first to speak of it (29-30): oicovol / yXVKVK)p0rouavpov eioopcbot 7TrpOXaptv jopac. 49Kitto. also cites v. O7rctOlaTO : e'efpaverTo. / 7r' oicCv fIrXol p rv v upatpat e TaEX pcp iav'Tee re Kai Kvvcpv f3opac / TOv bvoppdPov reTrrcroC Oi68ITov 'ovov. for example. 54. in Sophocles's Electra that.51 Yet this interpretation has failed to receive acceptance among scholars or even to invite closer examination. It is clearly one which we must take into account when we are considering Antigone's motives. p. 148-149. MARGON covering is Xe1rrT7(256). [London 19611. as Cowser has pointed out (see sixth paragraph. [New York 1964]. 522-524. p. the defilement of Polyneices' body (1015-1018): -7 K OppEVOC Kail ravTa T7-C oc i // \rpe vooel IroXtt . 524. W. F. in some places. but there is an abundance of indirect testimony."48 Nowhere in the play does Antigone express this motive directly. oiw or Creon but also most of the characters in the play speak of defilement bears unquestionable weight. Haemon. the protection that she had secured for the dead body of her brother on one occasion." 50Messemer. p. is the mangling of Polyneices' body . purporting to be the voice of the populace. and I suggest it is an important one.5 At first glance.

before they take up their watch again. The shock which one would was normallyexpresson beingcaptured. moreover. that the guards have removed the dust of the previous sepulture? Her cry of a bird cS oiTrav Kev67 / ebviScveoaaoCv bpspavov 3Xe/7 Xexo (424-425). 517. (3) While Messemer successfully effaces the Horatian poem as authority for the first burial (see twelfth and thirteenth paragraphs. Yet Creon's intention is so obvious to the guards that. furthermore. seems to disclose not only anguish but her surprise at not finding it still covered. in reference to Antigone's first covering of the body.to recover it with protective dust . above). Instead. p. (1) Sometimes even the error of a brilliant scholar can be helpful in drawing attention to the solution of a problem. desirewhich she revealedto Ismenein the prologue(86-87).whetherapprehension anticipatedor not. why does she come.becomes invalid. the burials are merely physical and if Antigone returns solely to protect her brother's body again with a new covering of dust. they will remove the dust. If they understand his intention so well. they sweep the dust from the body (409-410) without ever being told to do so. which he readily admits were performed the first time. he speaks of "Kreons Befehl. A possible explanationof the guards'delay in removingthe dust is their wish to the preserve evidenceof the burialwhich Creonmight havewantedto verify. his command to the guard is to find the criminal (306-307). fifth paragraph. 55The changein Antigone from intensely expressiveemotion and distressto completelack of dismay when the guards seize her (433-435) is easily explained. she thought that she would find the body uncovered. there is something erroneous in Messemer's view of the nature of the burials as only physical and actual. 53Die griechischeTragodie(Leipzigand Berlin1930). the way in which she learned that the dust had been removed must be shown. surely Antigone. but nevertheless the undeniably strong testimony which he has marshalled should not be discounted. and. since she had expected to find the corpse bared. he cannot reconcile with his concept of a physical and actual burial the symbolic aspect of libations. The omission of any explanation for these prominent details detracts from Messemer's view.55 52Messemer. Perhaps this evidence can be made to contribute more meaningfully to a conclusive exegesis of the second burial. the meaning of the metaphor (424-425) must be clarified.54 Therefore. too. on the other hand. her cry as if robbed when she beholds the body (423-426) cannot be one of surprise. the motive which Messemer ascribes to her for returning to the corpse . (2) Messemer never specifies whether the first burial occurred in darkness or at dawn and. . 95. In this respect. when she sees the body bared (426). if answers can be found to these three questions which his interpretation has raised but left unresolved. is dissolvedby a strongeremotional factor: her satisfactionthat now all will know her as the doer of the deed. she is correct in her surmisethat the coveringof dust cannot remainon the body for any length of time. fails to consider the significance of Antigone's urgency to revisit the corpse in the middle of the day (415-416)."53 At no point in the play does Creon give this order. bearing an urn of libations in readiness to fulfill a symbolic rite? Clearly.52 If. Consequently. if her expectation was to find the body undisturbed. p. must be aware that when the guards have discovered the burial. If. attaching no importance to the nocturnal performance of the initial sepulture. Rather it is a cry of shock and anguish which it is frequently humanly natural to feel with full impact even when the misfortune has been anticipated. Cf. Max Pohlenz makes just such an instructive mistake when. Still.THE SECOND BURIAL OF POLYNEICES 47 before her departure for the second burial. sie wieder zu entfernen. 54Antigone cannot know that the guardsdid not immediatelysweep away the dust on their discoveryof the burialbut waited until the guardhad returnedfrom makinghis reportto Creon. a above.

p. when Ismene accused her of desiring to accomplish the impossible (90). from the numerous possibilities which scholars have suggested. this gruesome contest could continue indefinitely. is the only view which fits this requirement and will serve to explain why Antigone comes to the second burial. claiming "she fears that the corpse. She knows also the need for haste. extrinsic to the play. for it cannot be reconciled with her words iK 8' apiat KCaKaC lpaT& TOLUt roip'yoy / 'cepyaaopeavotq (427-428). Sophokles: the plays and fragments "Antigone. even before she makes her second visit. however. The guard in his second report to Creon describes how a dust storm which hid everything from sight arose at noon and lasted a long while (415-422). escape the depredations of animals. that the Greeks of this time did not distinguish between a symbolic and actual burial. Antigone's knowledge that the guards will uncover the body soon after she has buried it must cause her a twofold anxiety: how long will the body. (3) It has been suggested before that there is an inconsistency in Messemer's concept of the sepultures as only physical and actual. she cannot 'bury' Polyneices. The prolonged length of the dust storm offers Antigone her first opportunity to reach the body. and his answer has proved unacceptable. She must realize. 57Gilbert Norwood." He is mistaken. Antigone would not "Call down curses on those who had done the deed. In fact. when Antigone goes to cover the body again.. 2nd ed. one does not think of libations and inhumation as categorically different aspects of burial. too." This interpretation is clearly wrong. then the third or the fourth. n.56 Yet the key to a proper understanding of Antigone's motive for the second burial lies principally in the explanation of this rather obvious difference between the two sepultures. later in the day.. that. also tries to give motivational use to the dust storm in accounting for Antigone's return to the body.48 JOSEPH S. the Messenger describes / how they came to the place ev0' EKEtTO ?e7XEC KvooTrdapaKTOV aocLta fHoXvve&Kov and burned what was left of the body (1202). and how soon can she return to restore the protective covering? She realizes the necessity of repeating the burial.is to select. Therefore. Greek tragedy (New York n. But as Antigone told her sister. lying in an exposed position." Since guards are on duty near the corpse. the one theory that is contextually congruent with all the details of both burials. prepared to offer libations. at this point from the variety of theories regarding the nature of the burials that we do not have sufficient knowledge. is quite correct when he writes: "If Creon is resolved. (Hildesheim 1969). the guards will uncover the body and she will have to repeat the burial. she will have to continue to repeat the burial as often as the guards remove the dust. of the fifth-century attitude toward burial to specify its nature in the Antigone. only Bradshaw (see eleventh paragraph. In fact. as ETL(1197-1198) 56Lewis Campbell. This urgency is proven when Teiresias. may have been disturbed by the violence of the wind. ad 417 f. unprotected by a covering of dust. Since. undetected. It should be apparent. Bradshaw's belief. Antigone will inevitably be captured. . she would do everything within the limits of her power (91).). the best approach. I. above) has even considered the question. MARGON (2) All interpretations have neglected to clarify why Antigone chooses a dust storm in the middle of the day for her second visit instead of waiting for the night. it seems. she brings libations. d. when he adds: " . moreover. thinking that the wind might have exposed the body. since her performance of the burial at night. if not the second time. even if the second burial is successful and she is not apprehended. declares that birds and dogs have defiled the body of Polyneices (1016-1018). Still later in the same day. p. 140. according to this concept..7 In this sense the burial is ultimately ineffectual and represents a hastily conceived and executed token burial." if she had returned." vol. 494.

THE SECOND BURIAL OF POLYNEICES 49 she had on the first occasion. . 9 feels compelled to bury the body of her brother. above) have observed. Having resolved the inconsistencies in Messemer's view and filled in its hiatuses. at last. 194-206. moved by her piety toward the gods (450-460) and her devotion to her family. The clarification of the reason for Antigone's return to the corpse of Polyneices has freed the play from the stigma of an unmotivated incident (see tenth paragraph. but now we can appreciate in the second burial that perfect union of form. Santa Barbara 58Antig. 900-903. two burials confer on the play's form and action. as the younger Wilamowitz (see eighth paragraph. which. 59Antig. above). 31. incident. it becomes clear why Antigone performs a second libation when she covers the body again. 523. 522. above). in the daytime rather than at night. Knowing that the corpse has been uncovered after the first burial and will not escape the depredations of animals unless she acts quickly. 518. 60Since Antigone has been providedwith a motive for the second burial. 3. Furthermore. 516. 512. she returns to rebury it at the earliest opportunity. 284-289. MARGON University of California. 466-468.we have conclusive refutationof Rouse's and Harry'sbizarretheory (see n. 520. if we accept as fact that the Greeks of the fifth century didnot differentiate categorically between the physical and symbolic aspects of burial. need we regard the occurrence of Antigone's second visit as a thematically unmotivated excuse to ensure those undeniable advantages which. above) and others (see n. 511. Just as Creon.58 forbids the burial of Polyneices. an interpretation of the burials that fits the facts of the play and reveals Antigone's motive for returning to the body. 80-81.60 No longer. we have. so Antigone. moreover. owing to theirinability to find a motive for Antigone. and meaning which characterizes great literature.creditsIsmenewith the first burialand presumes Antigone'ssecond visit to be reallyher first. who is determined to make a distinction between the rewards due a patriot and a traitor. JOSEPH S. under the cover of a dust storm.