You are on page 1of 13



SOPHOCLES: ((Sophocles' Praise of Man

A COLLECTION OF CRITICAL ESSAYS and the Conflicts of the Anti$1l.!K \1

by Charles Paul Segal c-- Quth 0 (>

It i. no coincidence that the most influential interpretation of

Edited by the Anligont!-anu one of the: most influential uuerpretarions of a
Greek tragerly--eomes from a philOGOphcr of idealism and dialectics.
Thomas (Woodard The d,lI;gone is certainly a play of amuheses and conllicu, and lhi'
-e ---~ alate of conflict is embodied In the: presence on sl:.Age of two pro-
lagoniau. each diametrically 0PI>OSCU (0 the other, Yel aa a result
o( Hegel', Iamcus anal)"is much discussion of the play h... Iocused
on the quest lon of which of the two protagonists has more: of "the
righl" on his .ide, Thi. approach runs the risk or conceptualizing
the protagonists toe simply 11110 antuherical "principles" which
somehow are, and uiaJeclically must be, ultimalel}' reconciled.
This ia not to lay that there are not conceptual iaauea Involved
in the characters oC Creon and Antigone.(Uut the i&luea are: too
complex to be J.alidactoriJy reduced to a single: antithetical formula-
lion, )Wc: mus~,,*,oitl oeeing the proragonuu .. one-dimensional
rep.reac:nlauvcs·o{ simple Opposilions: rillht and wrong. reason and
nnoUon. state ,and jnt~~~I-'aI. or the like. Such oppoeirione have
some validity; but a v~ny purchased at the price of oversimplifi-
calion and ultimately a misunderstanding of Sophocles' sense of the
tragic, 'The characters, like the play hoelC, have many levels which
Prentice-Hall, Inc. ~ Englewood cus« N, J. Iuse organically. sometimes indistinguishably, into a complex unity;

and here the{c::onCrontations oC the two protagonists create an ever-
ramifying interplay between interlodting and expanding iUoca)
"Scphoclee' Pr.ahc of Man and the .f.3nlllt"11 of the Anligone- br Chufct Paul
ScK;af. Frum Arion. UI, No. • (Sumn\h 196.0, pp. 0{6·00. C',ul'yrinht © .~tfi-t by
Arion. Rrprhtlctl by perm!...Inn 0{ drion. RcyiKd lJy the author lor uu. volume..
and DOLeo omil ted, by pcuui..UJoo.
Suphuclcs' Prauc u/ Man and 'he COli/lieu oJ lhe AntlJ:;oue Charles Paul Sc:gal
II i> the essence and the marvel of work, of the Classical .l>cdoo mal<.c DO sense ....uhout Creon's aurhoruarian willfUlness. 11 i. the
Ulat concrete and geueric so pcrfectly meet and unue, In this essence ~f the tragedy that the one figure seems to generate the \
qualilY Sophocles 13 pre-euunent, )0 the ,duligcme the churacters other, that the lWO COC:XJlit ;u comp'cnu:n1ary parlli of a whoie.))
arc the issues, and the Issues the characters. Uut the charaClclS al~e This whole is not necessarily a Hegelian "IYluhc~is" of two 01'1>00-
not only "iSSUb:' Tlu:y are indivitluab moving as all men do Ii; til jog: "'p.d1Ual substances," but lOlJu:lhing l.>oth infinlu~ly lim pier
complex. entanl)leuleut of will and circumstance, passion and alrru- and infinilely more complex, lomethlng which III auteccdenr 10 and
bOl, guilt anti innocence, l'hdr lieurching. sullcl"iuf{, growth to more balk than the couceptual Iorsuulauous abour aptrit and
understanding, and death give to the "philoeophicul" I:.:.ues sub- absolutes. It is. norlung less rhau the nature of man. his place in
uance and the breath of life. Hence they Can move us with a stare- the world. and uie possibililies aud Iimirauons 01111. actions. Around
ment lhat docs not {ahify the: iUlertwining of idea whh particular. the..e luUes and derivative from them revolve the antinomies which
concept wit h ..cuou, 10::.$ willa attaiumcm, Ulat Iorius the: structure have been conceprualized in so lDauy dillereru ways: divine versus
of our reality. human law, indivrdual Vt:hLU state, religious versus secular. prav:He:
Recent criucs, abandoning the simple ·Ihesis·amilhesi. opposition "eAW public moraliry.
and look-ing OIL the play in terms of the acrion iLSeJr. have made it TI1C conllict between Creon and Antigone has its starring point
clear Ihal il i> hard 10 find much pure "right" on Creon'••id7.l in the' problems of law and justice. At any rate, the dttlerencc is
though this iJ not (0 lay lhat hi:! Iate c:nlirely lacks a tragic dimen- most explicilly formula led in these Ierne; in AllliHolle'. greal speech
,ion 01' Ihal the conltict i••euled merely by a kind of moral dcfuuh, on she divine laws (lille. 15011.). a speech which is both confession
Antigone. on the other hand. i:s vindicated by the end of the play, and defence, both plea of guilt and sclt-vind icarton, almost enco-
lJUl unly at the: COd of tremendous sulledng. her own and that of mium. ~gainat uie limited and relative "decrees" oC men she scu
those d0$.C11 to her. Indeed, since she t.lbappears a lillie aher the the eternal laws oC Zeus, rhe "uuwriuen laws of the goili.':)hc
h ..lC·way point oC the elrama, one may wonder whether h h not the couples her asserrion of these ateolure "laws" with her own resolute
goo". 'Teiresia•• and the rlghta of We corptte, which are vindicated
rather than Amigone herself,
BUI Anugone and Creon are clearly the central focus of the play. 1 lover the human compulsion, and rt:lt:fu life wuh lIS compronU:ii
a"eJllan~e of dearn (160). Thue .h.e beg ins . 10 extend the conllici
outward iruo I~Ues of scope. SJ~e (h~:,;c5 1!_C: ~lvJne command

Yel logelher Ihey give Ihe playa double fU<:II>. The "uoul>le ceuler for the absolutes of death, Indeed. in her terms these ausolures are.
of gravhy" in rhe work. as one criric has called il. creales a lemion paradoxically. juS! Ihe Ihing. which "live alway," (151'-57).
and richness which makeJ it possible for Ihe aClion 10 reflecI baclt) Th...peech .. also Ihe [ocal rolllt [01' themes Ihal reverb<:rale
upon i"df in complex way•. And. a. anolher crWc h., aplly poinled throughoul Ihe play. Antigone opposa Ihe "decrees" (kerygmata.
OUt. lhe decisive: qu...Hty of the manti judgm81t expressed at the q
.cS,f) of Creon 1.0 the ·'law." (nomima;'of lhc f.;oUs, and thua-sharpens
end of Ihe Iragedy requires a movemem iu which Ihere can be the ague of what COOlaltulCJ "law" (nomos). By implication :.hc or
sullicienl complexhy 10 make Ihe play an adequale ani'lie expr.,.. iutrooucea the diulnctlon between the man-made :lnd the: "natur",I:'
sion of Ihe eomplexily willch ex is" in life. ) the anifidal and Ihe.elernaJly exislelll. The IWO word., "decree"
The cOIIIl'lcxily lies in pan 'in Ihe faci l.hal the IWO proragonilll. and "law," have been wed conhuedly and indiS<:rlmlnalcly by Creon
lhoug'" wuilly oppotetJ in Iheir views. are nevenhde.. each bound (I«' 161. kerygma; 177. nomui; 191, nomo.; i:03. cAkcltcryittaJ.. elc,.);
10 lhe Olher. "demonically bound," as Reinhardl has pUI il. Each and they now arc: ~cn to diverge.
is nece...!)' 10 define lhe olher. On Ihe one hand. as Whilman has The aame djvcrHen~e OCCUR with "justice" (dike), Arlli~one here \ //
well remarlted, "Anligone is Ihe balance in which Creon is weiHhed. appeals to Ihe, ':Juslice Ihal dwefb wllh lhe goo> l>dow': (151),} 'IV
and found ....aminK.., on the other. AllliJ!one'. h.ulun:.. would wheri:aa Creon 11. 1at.ef to define the JWucc of ... m..n wlcly In rela-
S:::Jphr.<les" Pr.iJe of Mun awd lhe Conflicts of the Antigone: 65 ~ Chari" r«..1 ~ga/
~ion (0 the polis. the ,alate. and to identify jusuce in private life' of modem civifizarion, For Sophocla and his conremuorartes they ~
with thal in puulic JHe: "For he who is a good ruan in hu domc:.tic-J..' i~volvc. the entire public ~nd ~riv"le lile uf the citi~en, hil re! a-
afl~in will be shown just in the cily 100" (oli.,o~). The cenainty
of diu identification is severely shaken in the Iolluwing scene,
where the qua.lion of justice CUfHt:S up in the most intimate: of /l t~
bilitiea. moral, ~litic,al, social, implied in those relation•. >
Uo... wllh Lbc godJ and wllh hll fellow-men, and all the respond-

A. sense of L111S Wider realm of coullict is given In Anligone',

Creon', domesuc retauons and drivea a wedge between "pubtic" L...... . .\ repeated use of the word kcrdos, "profit," "gain." in her greal speech
~(...e (4 6.-64), She c".un.. it "profit" to die before her lime (40.,6°), "Fur
:.IOU "private" jusrice. Creon taunts hll son with "going: to Jaw"
(in Greek,. "being a I a case of justice," dia dikeJ) with hi. father
(7i.) and is told in reply thal he is mistaken in the mailer oC what
' lIy5 whoever liva amid many woes, .s I do, how does not such a onc
win fWo{i1 in dying" (463-64). "Profit:' however, I' one oC the word. ,,-
ia just (fa dika.-a, 713). 'The chorus is to accuse And one oC having UIOd throughout the pl .. y to characterize Creon', narrowly raiional}
':t.~lIen>J.._lhe-lol~y:.seal-uLj.u."ce...- ~~55}~IH'-Lwill e~im, iaLie and materialirtic view of human motivation, Dut in Antigone's
at the end. to Creon. "A!~2-Y_l?~J!.~~_~c:n justice latc, ill it seerus' mouth it carries exactly the opposite significance: emotion. non.
(117 ) . . ... _ - - _ . . . . . - -
rational (lbough equally firm) deterrnin..tion rhat willingly accepts

Anllgone'. unqualified declaration for absolute values thue pre- or even ~k.a •ell-destrucricn, not self-advancement,
dpitatcs a redefinition ol some basic moral ant! ethical categories. In the: face of Antigone'. resistance all of Creon'. rationalism
They do not fit her ..nd have consequenrlv 10 be remade, She iI .f1-? breaks down and iI helpless. "Who iLl~IO love 10 die"
_"a law to herself' oulanumos. 811; and. as she is well aware (160ft.). pr ~~~~r~_~o~icJ.. at the. annq~lOiea:ne~t.. ot_G!E~.!.I~~.,.~~c~e~·-(2'J·~)~ Yet
she must pay the price lo-r standing outside the conventional defini.. Antigone exult.. in her "foolishness" and turns the word back upon
11011. ol "law" and "justice." She challenges human law with an her judge: "But if 1 now seem 10 you 10 be engaged in Ioolish
absolute which she backs up with the resolve of her own death, (or deeds, perha "" I a m accused of foolishness by one who is foolish
III... is the Iultest assertion she can make of the Intensity of her moral
ccnvicrione. She can assert what she: is only by stak.inJ; her entire
being, her life. It is by this extreme defense of her bel iefs that she
rasa to heroic and deeply tr3J.;ic stature; and, simultaneously, by
himself" (469"70). In the very first scene of the play Antigone has
...ked to. be lell to suffer the consequences 01 her Colly (95'90) a nd
her arrirude continua to the end, Hers is the woman's ~mOlional
rouLancc to the ordered male reason of the state. And she reiulorces
her ~ction by lh~ least ~ationally comprehensible- of human acts, the
the same gesture she males herseU incomprehensible 10 the other
acton, Creon. Isrncne, the chorus. Only l laeruon. who, at a lower _ ....cnficc: of her life. It 15 not thal she acts on unreason. but rather
level. maka and fulfils a similar resolve to die, comes close to un- that Creon'. kind of reason is inatle<luate to ~rasp her motives and
derstanding her; and in his filial act, aUirminK himself truly her her nature.. 'This ch..llenge to Creon's supposed rationalism il to
betrothed, he is Indeed "married" to her in death. Deatlr is the only
poesible union of such natures:
A corpse upon a corpse he lies, lhe unfortunate.
h.ilving got hiJ muriagc portion in° H;u.ks' hOUIC (lIiO;-iI).
make iudf felt even after her disappearance [rom the stage, for
the theme of re..son and "intelligence" (phron<in) domina ..s the
bst 350 linel of the play. Creon is to lee too late the mlstukca of
hi•.iII.Counded intelligence (p.h~enon dyJ!,!mmon hamarUmala,
116.), .nd Ihe chorus .dmonllion .boUl proud words leaching
In Antigone"' lpeech on the ··unwrltten Jaw$," emphasis natu.. "illlelligence" in old ends lhe play (135011.).
r.. lly (.. lb upon law anti j u.u ice, for l~h~ selling is a oiurit.lkal one Given the clt»c: interconnections in Greek civilization among all
and Antigone is, as it were:, on 111011 hn in the: cJose·knil fifth- ~ the major a.apeClI of life-intellect. morality. reliJ;ion-it is natural
«("Hury chy·state, "law'· iilnd ··IeAalily" laVe iii. far whirr ranRc of 1b.. 1 Ibil lheme of illlelli,;ence .hould be firmly linked 10 lhe prob-
applic:.uion than they would in the more: compartmentalized dhia . lem of m""',, rel...Ion to lhe godo. In Sop~\ean lr"gedy, as in
SlJphocles· Pruue uf Alun and lhe Cun/JicIJ uf lhe Antigone 67
ClunJes PGul ~&al
much of Greek. thought before and after him. it U primarily the
realm of the goW which ddin<:1 the boundari'" of what man can aIler Amigone', great speech, he swears her and Ismene's purush- Where the one realm emu. the other begin,. and 10 overnep meru, "even if she u a liLS1Cr'J child, even if snc jl closer In blood
the boundary-line h a ua'lgeroLCI violation of the things,thal are. th4n any who worships Zeus at the altar of Our ho,:",c" (-jIlti.H7).
h 15 ... maller of "kucw IhyxU" geuera llzed to the human condlucn
<L\A' elr' d6o.\.,;qr <1/1' 6"",,,0>.or{_

t a whole. In rhis play. as in the later Oedipus Rex, k.nowledge.

\A I _au' or the presumption of knowledge, rettects the: li.uiu of human power
~ \f\Q)lV" nd Ulan's re5pol1~iuiJilia to uie .re;u of LIlt: UUk..1I0WII, the un-
controtlable, the sacred,
.,. Thus 10 return 10 Antigone's crucial speech. it is ,ignilicanl that
Toil 'l'a,..,d, J),ui.. Z'1""OJ cpuwv "• • • •
Literally, the second line goes. "closer ill blood Ihan the whole
ah.a r of Zeus Hcrkcios," (Zeus who ilanw In the Iorccourr 3:1 lilt:
hO',uehoJd god.j ThIS statement is outmalched only by his reply La
'!eJrCljlu, lihorLJy before the tragic reversal:
in UiM·u~ing rhe divine l""w~. she makes do poilu oC mali's nul know-
lug thdr origin (";uId no one knows when Ihey appeared," "157). You will not cover hllD in buri.l. net even jf the: Cilgle. of ZCUI
p\ Later in her rapid exchange wiLh Creon she opp-oses :.4 aimilur state- 1ft'ub to au... LCh him up OIUU CillTy llim oU ..... Ieod to ZCUl' throne
ruent of IgllOi uuce to his po~ilive ussernons about law. right. piety: (IU,S'i I). "
"Who knows if these thing' arc held pure and hl'Jy below?" (5.')'
Creon understands nothing of the Hmits o.......tiuman powcr and
Thu from the ~an who first entered with "rhe gods" on his lips
(161). And. a line and a hall later he adds, in a characlcri::'lJC
control. For him 10 know the way» of men is abo to know rhe
Iusion of rhe "Imellecruat" ..ud the urelig:lous" themes. "For 1 well
(\ way. of the gods: he 'e,," the human realm as exactly coextensive
.lnow thai no man can pollute the gods' (101~'H)'
V with the divine. He cxpn:~c.:s this presumption. with characteristic h ia. rnen, nOI by accideru that AlIligone ucgill5 her grcal speech
bf induess, In his -repealed iuvocurlons to Zcu~;" awl these iilowly
with Zeus:
build up in il crescendo or artQbance and disaster,
Hia tint Zeus seem "pious" enough, lhough danger Creon. Dared you then (0 tr;ansgrcu these b.wli

. '.gn! arc lcnsely pr('~enl.\ije 'iul calls upon Zeus (1Ii-l) alrer describ-
the guill,"aincd death of the two brothers (1701[.) and a.ks that
.4nl'gone. h w.... 1101 lcus who 104l0c: IhC'~ UCCU:C:ol oC youn, nor
are .uc.h the: law. lh .. l JUllicc who cJwelb with the

\jj IC god bear witne... to hi. own principle Ihat the .Iatf comes before
verydtin!UCl82 If.). Thi. oath is followed, .ignificamly, by the
decree iudf, the announCemc/ll of a deed which all Grecks would
godl below CJlilbJi,ht:d awong o.U:1\ • • • (ioJ9 11.).
.. lew is releva nr, of course, because he is the supreme god and, as
,kY'god, u especially a/kclcd by Ihe poUutiollS involvcd in the
recognize tU an unu:iually crucl and lievert: punbhment. if nOI an corpac. But as a focal remlflller of Creon'. hybris and. more jlll~
actu.1 violation of acccplcd rdigious usagc. lie nexi <:alls upon POrlalll. . . Ihe fullesl .ingle emhodimenl of the realitie. of Ihe
Leu. in '04 If.• also in an oalh and when picty and univcn.e he i, the measure of Andl;onc',s dis.scnt and of her heroJ:)IIJ.
impielY. Yel here he i. nUL eVen the: cal Ill. a~)urcu slatt.,"$lI1an of the The gulf bel wee Creon and Antigone thus becomc' illllllense.
c.....lier; but hut with ...u(;c:r anu pc.:rhal':I retiring for hi. own· (ll it among t e ironies °
the play Ihat he who talk.s coll>lalllly of
pooition, he Ihrulelu Ihe guard wilh dealh .and w~m;e if he faill "0 "pollution" and "rever~nce'" (scoas) unuerstand, thena oniy in the
caplure the violalor of thc decree. Whal gIve. th .. passage .pe(lal narrOWell and ICall reverent way. He who h:u rlttketl total pollulJon
II poinl it Ihc /I•• h oC illlpalicnce and thc intolcranl jibe at Ihe of the cily In eXpoIlng Polyneica" corpae willacd: to avolu polhllion
~ chor"'" '·fooli.hnc:JI"' and "old agc"' when they ,ug!;""I, .hortly. by Ihe limited expcdielll of huryillg Andgonc alive (77~ IL). (The
before (a7H If.) thai thc hori~1 miHht be the result of divhie illter· decree ori1;iniilJly demanded ue.uh by Iloning. !i5'!i6.) II I' AlHigone.
vention. Anger and irrcverence both mount in Creon whcn, ,hartly cootlcmnctl Cor "impiely" (sec dYJ.Jc:bc:s. 51-1. !) IIi), who is Car closer

. '.
Sopho·dCJ· Prtuse 01 Man Qnd the Conflicts 01 the Antigone 6g ']0 Charles Paul Segal

10 understanding wh.1 piely and the gods rnean: "In acring piouslj' for An,"igone', full acceptance of her womanly nature, her absolute
I have gained [the charge 01) impiety' (dyJJcbdan cuscbousa, 9'~)' volua"on of the bonds 01 blood and atlecuon, ia " 101ll.1 denial of
Her very lasl word. in the pl.y renera re her claim: "See wh.1 1 Creon'. obscsIivdy mascul inc ralionalilY.
sutler, and from wbom, reverencing piety" (9~.·H). Her pietj, ... Amigone', acceptance of lhia womanly obllgarion alanda out the
her paradox in 9'~ makes clear, i. not easy nor e;uHy grasped by more by contrast whh Ismene's rejection of it: "We must consider,"
others, leas t 01 .11 the chorus (see 87')' who assert th.. "sell-wllled bJD~ne-aays, "lhat we were born aa women with women's nature,
paulon" destroyed her (875). ,Yel. it IS atmost an essential p:.lTl of .and are not such al 10 fighl with men" (61-02). Isrnene Ieeb her _
Antigone's acrion th.n it be not understood, that she Sland alone '-..l?r:/ w~nhOOl1 a.I somelhing negative, as a weaknes.a. Antigone find..
against Creon's sod.llly convemeru claims of piety. the easy and )/}\ in It a source of strength, Ismene capitulate! to Creon's view:
popular incoruistencies which all agree upon and tollow. lt i~ only .. Antigone raina and find. in her "nature" a potenl heroism which
the tragic ch .. racier who sees things through to tlidr logical con- cuu acrou Creon's dichorcnnzing' of things anti has its echoes even
elusions. and 10 diet. AJltigone. like Ajax. rejects IHe as compromise, alter her death in the equally wom a uly, though leu .ignilit.:~IIl,
giva up existence when it CC;UCl to come up to the measure o( death 01 Eurydice.
the heroic aell·imjlge. "For you," she Ielb Isrnene shortlv after he It ia Antigone's very "nature," even more than her action•. which
gre," speech 10 Creon, "chose 10 live, bUI I 10 die" (555). Her Il~n~ in such challenging opposuton to Creon. Thus slte concludes
both Iemene's gentleness and Creon's sclt-wifled rationality out: left 51.3 her ·fir5l, and moll important, clash with Creun with the' pointed
Iurthe.. behind. ~
line: "!l is my nature nOI 10 share in hadng (syrlCcIJtIJcin). but 10....
h is again among the tragic aradoxe5 of Anli~one's poeirion share In loving (syrnphilcin)" <s"~). Her WOIW nOI only answer
th.u die who accepts the: absolutes ealh has a far fuller sense Creon', charge: that Polyneices is an enemy and hence deserving of
of the complexities of life, Creon, whu lacks a true "reverencev-- hale. not Jove (5.11), but .. lso expose more ot the Iundamenral
for the gods. the powers beyond human Hfe, abo lacks a deep dillerences between the two protagonlslI, In the coutlict over basic
awareness of the complexities within the human realm. lienee he terms like "law:' "piety," "profit," liea mud. of the movement of
tends to lee the wor-ld in terms or harshly opposed ca tC:J;ori;;5~ rip,ht the pl.y. The words lor "love" and "hale" used l>y Creon and
..ntl wrong. reason and folly, youth and age, male and Iernule, He- Amigone in 5..·.3 (and throughout the play) have. cerf ain ambl-
~orn(ulJy joins old aKc with foolishness in sIx:akinK to the chnrus
gui."y, Echthros, "enemy," means -also p"rsoually "hated": philo»,
(.1:11) and rdu:lo to lislen to his son', auvicc bec..use he b youlI~er "Irtend," mc~n. also ~n "loved one:' Creon limply idellti~
(7'9 IT....p. 7.6'.9). Vel his opp",ilion 01 old .nd young i. l.,er fica Ihe lwo me.nings; th.t ia, he idelllifica "love" :is personal .nd
10 be lurned again.. him hy Tdrcsias (.ee JOHH IT.), allli he i•• III Ihe emolion.1 <pIJiicin) wilh polilic.l agree"'elll (ICe .bo, e.g., 187) .nd
end. 10 be "I.ughl" by Ihe young son (.ec 7"5 .•6) who uies, Creoni "hale" will. polilical enmily. lIuI Andgo"ca being .nu her aClion
-I.m<nu, "young wilh • young 1.le" (..66), place into dram..Lie eonlliet the qUell ion of who deserves "Iovc" and
All these c.lIlegoflCl imply the relation of superior and inferior, who "hate:' Helice :at the end of their fint encounter Crcon answen
Itronger and ThiS highly JlrUClured :anu ag~rt:s.sive view_ Antigone'... It ia my nature not to .hare in h;,ating bUl to Ihare in
J ]ovjn~" ~ith ~nc "~f hi. characterinlc dichotomies of man·woman,
01 Ihe world Creon exprCiS" mosl 'lrildngly in repeatedly
formuhllling the conflict between AntJ~one and himself in terms of 6'''' lupcnor.lnfc:rlOr: Go bdow then anti love them, if love them you
the wom:an trying to concluer the man (sec 4"". 525. 678, 746. mUll: bUI no wom'n will rule lIIe while I live" (5'~'"5)'
756). He lea in AOIigone a challenge 10 hb whole: way of living. Creon'. definition of man by hl5 civic or political TeJadons alone
extend.. to areOll other lhan "love:" He can conceive of "hol1or"-
~nd hu b;u~.~ auitudes tow ..rd lhe: world, And of couue he jl right,
only for bend,clOn o( the aute ('07'10) .nd••ngrily rejecu .ny
Supilocies' PrlJue 0/ Man and flae CUII/liels u/ llie Anlisouc 7' CJHJrICJ Paul Segal
idea .ha. rhe goJ.s could "honor" a rrancr (.ee ,U.I IL).lle again rauonalistic, "anthropological" view of man which treats of human
lJ..e sumcs that human anti divine-or pulilkal and rcligiuuli- civilization aJ the resuh of a gradual 510w advance. Similar klca.s
v..lues e:xactly colndcJt:.~nligolle, on the ether hand. looks at are already preaelll in Acschylw' Prometheus Bound, wriuen per'
"honor" in tenus of what is due: to the: god=, (see 77); ami l lueruon haps some twenty ye... rs before the Antigone.
c... n Iind AlltiHone. a 'Woman awl a violator ul the: ruler's edict, 'Though Sophocles draws he.vily on these rauonahstie view, he
"wonhy '0 gain golden honor" (ti!J!J). doca no. necessar ily Iullv approve them. Throogh rhis ode he
Yet nOI llIerely human reladu... arc involved ill the ccntlict be- - th{oWi them Into rhc dramatic action of the play and aliowl rhesu
tween Creon and Antigune. IJUI ba~ic ..uuudes toward IIIC;~ whole: to be weighed in the: b:dancc o[ uie lfagic ourcome. It is not Ihat
of exl:..tcIlt:C. It is the finn ila)iIUOn~ the Iuruous ode 011 m a u (1Sj¥ Ii'.) he denies Oleir validity, for he 100 is obviously much Impressed
which mas k..i rhe lint Jignifit:ant expansion of the meaning or the with the: range of human achtevernent, But he can 110 long-er rCHanJ
acuou to this broader level. 'The ode is not without its iJmuij;ulLics "progress" and a Promethean conquest of nature as havilll{ the
and ironies, Ior au praise of man'a .intellectual achievement is heroic pouibilitia which Aes<.hy'us--and perhaps Proragoras-s-saw
severely qualified in uie course o( Ihe play. 11 i, preceded, more- in them. Sophocles does nOI see in reasuII and technical control
over, by sever..l biaiis oC very non-Imellecrual anger by Crcun; sunply a source of human (reedom,- as Ae><:hylu. did. bUI sees in
and illlllledialely before••he guard, a simple and conventionally them too a poteurial source of human bondage anti limuauon.
pion. man, dila.el on the element of "chance" in human life (see And his retlccuons on .hi, ,nbjec. are .0 mature in IIle'-OedipIlJ
,aH) and e"iLl wilh a lIa.emenl- ot grali.ude 10 "the goo." (3~ I). Re,,~ where, it will be recalled, knowledge and intc:llil1cnce are by
The otic iuelf i, abo perhapl no. 10 confident a. mlgh. a. 1irs 1 no mCaJU unambiguous KO<Hts, though they are nunc the less in-
appear. 'The ...djc:clive which ueKriLn:a man. deinos, means nut separable pan. of lIIan', endowment.
only "wouderfuf," but a lso "terrible, "fearful," ali sever ul (UIIl·
'111UJ, to come back. to the ode on man, when the chorus taka
meuuuors have pouued out. Bru tilt: grcau::il aUlLJI~uity lie) III mall up the creation of law and jusuce after the praise of man's other
hin~lC. Man claims control ... nd dominarion, yet he cannot ":011I1'01 - achievemenu Lhey s.y thai men may come "now to good.' now to
hinudf. has dilhcuhy in controlling other men, and perhaps cannot l," (,li7) He may be "high in his cilY" (hypJipuliJ) bu. also "wilh,
even (anuol Ihe nalurOll world. The irony or sdC·colurul 1:1 pointed
up by .he word u.ed ,0 dc::;cribc man'. civic ami legal ".elllper"
ou. cily" (apolis) ,hould he be led '0
.n .CI o( r.,hne", (",Ima).
His nalure then. as thiJ "rashness" or "darlufo(' llll~gests eVen here,
(orgas, '5ti) in .he otIe. (or .hia word mean" al.o "anger" and iJ I() conlaiRa an irration.. l or violenl and dcstructlve putential. rerhaps
uacd .honly before in .he aeene wilh .he guard (urge, aUo). Similariy in this Ihilt of cmphasis Sophocle~ means lU 511g~e!il thai IUCCC5.I
.he word Cor ".hougill" in .he otIe (phronema, '5~) aillniii.1 alllO in the areas o( law and ju~lice. the areOla whkh concern relation,
"pridc" and hill thal aClue in the ensuing acent: with Antigone (:tee with other human bdnb13. i~ more dillicu1t 01111.1 h::i.$ certain than
~5!J), as
well al a, Olher ~rucial poinLi in .he play. COlllral over lhe lower ordeu o( nalure. Thoul{h Ihe Sophis.
There il lillie '1uolion lhal lbe OI!e rellecLi much o( lhe Opl!' Pro.agoras iJ probably more oplimi,lic, i. i. imereslin~ Ihal Sopho-
miJlic ra.ionalilm of Sophoclca' lime: .he Sophillic view o( Illan', dOl' luggealion o( Ihe grealer dillicuhy o( law .nd lumce would
abili.y '0
work. crealively upon hia enVirOIll?el1l and .?e prollably correspond roullhly wilh Pro•• gor.I' empha.i, on ~he dillkuhy and
Pro•• gorean concep' .hal lhe I.ale••he polIS. alan? wllh law and importance of Ujuukc'" an? .. ~cve~c:?ce... the ~u~1Ilu:5 wlllC~~ mak.:
. lice ia a human crea.ion and perhapl .he mOil Impor.alll lIage It po&&ible (or mcn to unite: In Cilies or SOClt'IIt::i. I~ the myth
)UI , "1 . "'If
in manta Oli.liCrtion of himadf over 3galnlt a hosu c or (nul ~rc:nt which Pla.o pu .. in hia mou.h (Pro/agoras 3.oc-~.~a), _
world. The cnumerillion of man·. cultural itUIVilIICc:a JUj,lY UIeU Thia complex. connection between cOlurol and human fclauona
derive from SophUlic "cuhure·hillories," or a. Ie... (rom .he ,new baa a.1w a further aig-nHicaficc lor Andgonc. Her wom..nly "mHurc." ~
S<1phocleJ' PrQiu 0/ Man and ,h, Con(licCl of {h, Antigone 75
CharI.. Paul Segal
centered on "aharing in love," opposes Creon', auuude ot domin.·-
lion which lI.nds 'p.rt hom the otherness oolh ot men and nature proud opin wilh di •••ter lIands allO in (Ihe realm 01) the terrible
and looks upon them as • potemial "enemy" 10 be subjugated, Thus (deinon)" (lOgIl·97). Thus when lorced by coutrontarion wilb the
i l .is Antigone. u'le woman-s-or, perhaps, at... another Ievel, the uncontrollable 10 "yield," he echoes the lead-word in the earlier
( "woman" in him-that Creon must subdue, or. in one of hu praise of man's power of control: "Many are the wonders [terrors,
Iavorue metaphors, must "yoke." It is Imereerlng in the light of dei",,), and nothing more wonderlul (terrtble, dcinon) than man."
th ls oppoeu ion th.u when Andgonc leeks a heroic exemplar [or Anligant:, who in her own way allO refuses to yiei d/ ' irnages

hersetl. she invokes the fiKure ol Niobe, a loving mol her, bUI also a more: fully the' grcatnos of Dian. BUl Lhia grcalO6J il measured
( abo againu Creon's Ihnitarions. 'The contrail between the two k.inda
human being who is Oil the same lime organically (used with the
natural world: she whom "the growth o( rock, Iike imenscly wind. of not "yielding" i, well exemplified in the .ingle, concentrated line
ing ivy, subdued" (11,6-'7). Arnigone's Niobe belongs both 10 whh which Anttgone CUll through Creon'. long nut of 473'4!J6:
humanily. with iu feelings and sorrows. and to inanimate nature; "Do you .nYlhing more than my c'plure and death?" (497).
and she symbolically unites the two realms. 'Thus the snow and rain The scene with l laemon which 1011ow. and firat eXl'lidlly in-
are not hostile missiles to be warded 01(. as in the lint staairnon troduces the "ylch.ling" R10liI brings out more hilly the limitation.
(356 II.), bUI are •• her own rears which she feels running down the " 01 Creon'. IIrenglh. 'Though Creon spoke for hi. IOn',~ (eelinE;' in
rock.y riuge. of wh.1 is now her Iace: the previous scene (sec 569 II.), he nevertheless lean 10 encounter in
(HOleman the lame emotional temper and apirit of rcaistanre which
Still. at she walles. the rain he found in hi> betrothed, Be indicates hi. lean in opening the
and Inow companions her.
interview whh the quesrion, u • • • Arc you here: ragitll{ at your
Pouring down hom her mourning e:yes comes the water that
Iarher , .. ?", Ihus aPl'lyinf( 10 l luemou the same verb Ih.1 he
lOiI'" the: stone (th6-311. WyckoU·s HOlm,}.).
wed of the two women earlier (I)'SJoln6n, G~:i: ICe lyuoJau, 4!lx;
Yet Niobe too. like Antigone, aullered [rom excessive love and) the word iudf is not common and. occurs only in these two placet
pride: but in her, as in Anugoue. lonefiuess and sorrow are trans- in the play and, indeed, only twice: more, in the: extant plays). Ihs
muted to a higher p1anc. verb U expressive nOJ ouly oE the way in which Creon rc~anls
,...... It is signiiicant then that the Iimiiarions in Creon's attitude. those who 'oppose him. but abo ol the areas where he Ieets himscll
arc borne in upon him not on~y in the area ol his persona] relations, most eXIJ<M.<:c.l and most uncertain. lie is obviously reassured at
but also in hanguat;e which mala another connection between . Heemon'a "Father, 1 am youn;' the fint words which his son. wisely,
human relations and the natural world and pointe toward a view chooses 10 uuer (635): and he eXl're5lcs hi> relief in the expansive
resembling rhe Niobe-image (Ihough less prolound), • view in .peech which follows (639-680), full ol bi, lavorile counuouplacee
which man does not doruinate nature. but learus [rom it sym· about rule and authority.
pathetically. Hence in urging his rather to ··yielu." Hacmoll ch~ca .... In another w.y 100 the scene 'Ugl;CSll Lhal Creon'. posilion is
as examples o[ "yielding" trees that bend in the winter ll00J r;uher perh.po not 10 unshake.bly firm a. millhl 'ppe.r. h· reveals Ihat
th.n .training Slillly il (7 I i II.). and he prelaces hi ••dvice .,creon in [act rdies heavily on the lupport of others, whether hll
wllh a alatement about human "wisuom" (supJlUs, 710). which IOn or Lhe choru•. He ciolnnot brook. disagreemeut. He cannot. lik.e
echoes Ihe pr.ise: o( "wisdom" in Ihe ode (3fi5). Antigone, Aland alone:. And those who disagree he will coerce Into
- To yield i> exaclly whal Creon finds m031 dilficull, .nd Ihere i. agTttment~,2 At the lame time he. lacu the calm definitencss o(
perha(;-a furthcr irony in his statement after the cncoul-~ter with Antigone, and it actually (aT less re:uoll .. lJie than the "raging"
Tdrcsi;u. "To yield u. terrible {demon}. but to resist and suik.e my womanly naturc-s he insulu. Inueed. nOlhin~ perhaps better iIIu,..
tr.les Lhe in.ll.bilily o( his ,ul'l'OIedly "nllion.I" and cOlUi..enl
Suphl.J&ICJ' PrlJuc u/ MlJn lJIIJ the CUII/licIJ oJ tile Anugcue 15 Ch"'/~J Paul Sl:gul

vicw. rhan hi. rreauneru of Haemon here. Reconciliaunn and Ufelf'). He fail> where Aruigone, hi. prisoner, succeeds: and her
praise in the fir>1 pari of the scene arc 101l0wcLi 1101 ollly IJy sharp success, in death, has eltccts which CTCOIU: a drasuc change In the
iUiulu in the second, but even lly the crud threat (0 h..l':"c ~nllg .. attilude of the master-hunter, Creon.
OIlC put 10 L1calh ill her ..brldegrooru's" very prc,clltc (7lio.(j,,). I~ The guard" iimile not only underhucs the sex of AIUil;0lle, IJUI
these sudden Jihihs of muod LIcon undermines lh~ "rauouul aJ.w prepares lor Creon's tar cruller use 01 the: jlUa~cry 01 ",ulIual
bo,uci ol his action on whit:h rests, in part, hi::. authority" llul ~_bo conqoClt aher AlIligonc', >pccch (1H II,), and uiere 100 Creon CUII-
h the ruler the man or COJl:.ISU:1I1 policy. lndkalc:i an II1Lfca:nng nt'~u conquest of n.. rure with domiuauon or male Over female (lloCC:
c.' . ' I
qUOllitication of the image of lUan in lh~ hr:il ~ta)III1UU ~$ 1 te ..81.85,5"5). The puallet••harpen the ditlereucc lJc,wcell Ihc guard',
Tca:aouing udug. the aruticer wlu.~e ulldhgcucc rs sbuwu 111 the phy and uie mOUlcr'. unfediu6 liCVC1"iIY.
cillO he creates ..nd rules, . V l'hw il La exactly lhe womOinly element in AIIIIgouc which Creon
Anuther qualilicatlon or this ode comes to center Ol! AI,HI~()IlC'. cannot group. He must reduce her "tct (0 IClllts analogous 10 hi:i
'The ode included lhe ''''lching 0" binJa .u one or urau e 1r n~lIIph5. own in order 10 understand it, and Ihls he: docs must clcartj- in rhe
FrOID uie l.H:ginning of the pli,y. however, the bin.l" baueuing ~u language in which he voices his. suspicion, about Isruene (though
the exposed corl)Jc are lhe ,ini~tcr rernindcra of C~t:'UIl'S aUII.&o,ruy he me"" hi> worda to apply '0 Anligollc as wcll):
(>cc, e.g., "9 If.), and hence also of hi. subordinauou ul religiOUS
~"I' d OV,uOf rplwOtJl DP~O'OQ'& /CAOTf.VS
u:.age to political decree, Yet it i. these lJinh which cany, 10
l't=lral4U the- w... rnings ..bout Creon'. viohltion or Ihat to ,wlnd& ,,;no ~'l4;" 6p8Ws U. O'4OTftJ'l".IJI.

human control docs not pertain. 'The birds too an: Ihc:, :iU~Jlt:l t. u{ The mind of IhoJC: anfuUy devuiug (lcr!momcnon) nouung honest
an "art" (tt:chne, 9uU). prophecy. which. in ih Mywp:.IIhcIJ( 1.':'I,:"I11? in the dark ia WOtU co be 'Olught lJdurc,hoauu III iu dUCVhllJlcu [Incr-
10 the: voices of mature: ~t.UllJ:; "'part (rom lilt: more :i}":)tc:mOluc :.11 Is oUy, " ... a ,hid," klup<UJj. (1~"~1)
of contrul and device (><:e /0 machunocn teciuuu, ~ti5·(j(j) Ihal ruun The word "thief" wed DC Auugone's deed immediately da~)ilie"
hal "taught hilll><:Ir." ., . ., it in Creon', mind with the calculating UC)ICC: for "gain" (}unJos).
It is .ignific~rll. then, Ihiu the Ruard, ,In (!cKnhmj!; ~,"ligun.t:' a onc of hia {.vorale concepu. The yc:rb "anlulJy dcYi::iillg" conl~in:s
cilpture. com para her to a bird ItiIllCUlIllj{ .ItS yom"M': .• : : SI,le the root tcchnc, "deyice," "craIt:' wtlidl, as 'alreauy l101eu. hJ;UfO
rai..,. the .harp cry of lamcnt of a mOlhcr·LnrLl III In."er gfll~f, a,~ prominently in the ode on man. Uut ;u lite lec/me: of the odc: 011
when, in the CIIIIJIY nest. it licei the bed itriPI:,c:d of, us.•neSt ,wg:i wan U AJuwcred (jn p'UI) oy god-directed Icc/we of
. ) A,," a little later the guard .pcalul of hUIIIIIII; AlIlIgolle prophecy. £0 Ihe reduction of Antigone'!' ll1011Ye~ 10 a narrowly
(""3 "5 . u , , I' f
Vet Ihoogh he thUll COllncc.. hi, aCIIOII wllh IIC IIl1al;cry 0 conceived Hthid·Hie" c.. kui....iun I~ .uu,wercu, ... 1:)0 oy Iile goJs, III
(433)• , I 1. If I1
durnlnalion in the preceding OOC:, he hali abo .. lawn UlU5C, capa .. c Creon', cry when he hc..n his iUU'1i yoke d~c to lhe cutI: "Am J
of a L1illcrcm attitude in Ihe bird'lilllile, Olle llIarked by. plly fo~ the deceived, thief·liLe, by the goLl," ( k/cl'lomal, '" IH).
hunleU crc,~uure. Al the: I_lilt lime. however. Alui.,;u.m: II the VU:lJIU Thua the themal of lhe Ilirdl, tcc/me, male dominauon over
.• . Il,e one idclldficLl' ",ith a pan of thc IlIlJJul;alClI lIalural female, are all ;u p;utu ol a $Iugic: complex, llle muhiplc
a~U I'" .
world (and, aa nOled earlicr, ahe il hefJelf 10 dcepcn '"' luCIIII- aapc:cllI 01. control and authorilY; and .IU (his complex, which in·
fication in hcr Niobe·.imilc, B"3 If.). Thc gu~rd, thoUl;h, a,warc and volvca Antigone'" de;uh and lhe prophelJc birtb oC Tein:sJ:.Is, It is
a lh c lic JliIl allowl himw:1f to be forced 11I10 Ihe I"lSlllOll of d,e perhaps luggeslcd lhat lhe world of nature, lO 5£1y nOlhilll{ of lhe
If mp ' ......., IJ
"hunlcr," the conuoller. Like hmene, he haJI gouu UUtl,I,IICU" ~t worJd of WilO, it neither JO hcJple$.3 lIor /liO eaoliHy conuuJJaolc: as
bcu the force to carry them through (ace CJp. 4~U'40' not U II We Ii...t ,t..imon might lead Olle 10 ,oppo,c.
my nature to count aU ower winK' aa ICIlI impoflalll Ulan my AntJgone, aa a WOJuan ;lnu "hurHeo" vlulm, ",uo 1~elre;i.u as

· "~ .." ,

Soi'hod~I' PTau~ of Man and Ih~ Cuu/IJCU of fh~ Antigone 77 78 ~- Charles Paul SeGul

interpreter of the .igm (rom the gods and as a helpless. blind old humanity 01 he~d. h:; refusal t~ let Polvneiccs become less V
man. arc cloetely related 10 one another In their au itudc of aym· th ..n wh a t she has (cit him to 1J.e. tll.. t rorlll~ the Lcrllcl of her
pathetic relation with this naturat world (and the comparison 01 terse reply: "It wa.s 110 slave (duuluI) but a brother who died"
Antigone to a Icre:.amiug bird heips reinforce this "S3od:.atlon). lloth (5'7). a special reverence lor the divine which deeply allta~ol1ile1 The other part of the reply to Creon comes from the subdued
Creon, U-oth uclung to an order 01 bt"inl{ or a stage ot life of which realm ol nat ur e, wherein rhe gods are most manilest. -"hiS answer
Creon is contt:lllptuuu~; and yet both ill the end arc vindicated at too is necessarv for the wuoteucss o( the phty. lor Creon hat vio-
Creon '. ex pc rut'. lated not only personal reluucue. UUI somcrhiug III the reluuon uf V
In pUlling Antigone to death Creon has indeed gained his ob-..... man to the woriJ... sense u( the salu.:tity III thll1g:s, III uarurc as III
jeer, solidified his authority. crusued the reh acrorv element th.ilt DIan. 'These realms. the divine and the human, the natural anti the
opposed-s-and this was the only c1CIIlCIIL. so iar, thai opposed. He divine worlds. Iuse in the rapid rnovcrueut of events which pre-
expected men [see 2"B. "Who of men (u1IClron) dared to do this cipitate Creon's disaster. Fint 'Tetreaics' birds. 'Tbeu the: terr-ible
deed"] anti g;tin-,eek.il1g calculauun. and finds instead a girl who encounter between Creon and his 5011. "The ialll{u;l~e used 111 thi,
&cd.s her only "gain" in death (.Itil IL) and looks to the gOlls, not latter scene creates an even more dec isive and more biller inver-
to men, Rebellion there i:s. as he feared, but rcbc lliou ;;sl{ail1st a lion of the man-nature. luunau-unimul theme, 'There is here an
prolounder and more: deep-seared asp·eet of hlmself and his rule ironic alternation of lameness anti wildness. but £Carrully pre-
than he yet IUSPCC15_ It is with the vindication of these "rebel- serued at the heighl of the pedpety in Creon's own :100. l lucruou's
lious" areas, the womanly, the: divine. the non-rational, that the voice. Creon cries out. "lawns 011 me" (tlOlI'U. 1211): anti the
latter hall 01 the play is largely concerned; and it is perhaps Ihi. verb recalls the terms for servility U-oth in the ode on
reason which in pout accounts lor the increaaing prominence oC man (see .540. 35Q-5:t) anti in the exchanges between Creon awl
Eros and Dionysoe, the mythical embodiments of the least rational Antigone (177-78. 5u9), Iuuuecliatclv after. however, llacmon is
or "controllable" elements in human experience, in the ode! of like a wild, untamed animal, with "wild (agTl'oiJ) eves," spilling:. and
the second hall 01 the play. finally turning on himself in his savagery (I x~ 1-~G). Like an animal
'The answer to Creon. then. is two-fold. In the penon of Andg-- (00 he hal lost man's proud achievement or speech (see ~5"). and
one is revealed Creon's reduction not only of womanly nature. but IC..FIDS not 10 understand his father's words (see 121JO).
of human nature: in general. In his reply to AntiJ;one:'s speec:h on V Creon's brutalization of hi. human relatlUlu,hips has thua re-
the divine laws Creon use. not only the language of technical bounded upon him and with it the "tameness" and obedience he
control (lire and metallurgy. 474"7(;) and animal subjugarlou (the demands (rom his own environment. Creon pays throug-h his son
uming or horses, 477'7ti). bur also implicitly compares Anugone (or a reduction of man which he has previously inff ictcd 011 turn.
10 a alave (douiol, 479), The progresaion of the thought i. hiJ;hly lie had totally rejected, or refused to ICe. any possible love be-
significant. [or it reveals the link. between man's proud conquest of l.ween Haemol1 and Anti!{one and thus rejected too the h"m.m
nature anu Creon's delJa..sement of man. Ant!&.<.JIlc·s ability to rcsisl individuality or hi. ISOIl. In the wonu. "There are: olher fields for
the weight oi argument ;lod civic authority brou~ht against her is him to plow" (569). he urinh'" the most IntlrllOUe o[ human rela-
judI a r~.ply. a vindic;ltion o[ the uncontJuerahle dignity and .... tioru. with i15 traditional BanClitles. down to the level of a uruti:sh
wonh oC "the individual. She replies to the insult of slavery quite act and mala a conne(tion too with lhe altitude In the otIe on
Ipccifically. ;lnu her an,wer i, .the: love ;;lOd devotion of one indi.. man (note: the emphasis 011 pluwing al the cno of the first strophe.
vidual lo anotht'r under the sanctity o[ tic! thal are irl(.l~rendt'nt !J37 IL). '-hls del{ratlation oi the marria~e tic cOlltinues in Clcon',
01 the "artifIcial" a.speeu o( the .ocial order. It i. the irreducible cruel taunt to Haemon that An,igone will die "in the p'eseuce 01
Sophocles' PruIse oJ Allin und llle Coniticts u/ rhe AHllgOliC 79
her 'bridegroom' (7uU-U 1) <sUU In Auugone's 10111:;. en:,ull1g- lament

th.u she U "wc:l1L1iul:)" Acherou (tho) am..l thal her turnb Is her open air WaJ, promint:ntly enumeratedu amour0 c'·vl'I,·,C d .
mAil I
"bridal chamber" (tl!ll). The paueru i, Iulhllcd in l lueuum's adJicvcwcnu;
"utarriage..• in death, to Aurigoue (U'lo Il.] wuh the cOII::.c(lueIlL
desu ucriou o[ Creon's maHiabc and tile son it pruUun:d. • .. O.OOl.4J•
...... lli~n thus c.:omL~ to learn lIu: t.Ulbcll'lclln::a or his au irudcs and. ..~.... 1.0000pua u:ol olJoop/Jpa ¢.iryu.. fJlAq, •••
;u':liulI) 011 Ievels, whi«..h IUI~hL be laheled iuwr'n .. 1 utul ex...
IWO (St;,uccr:dt ia hill-.)
tcrual, the;: 114:1")01lal realm .uu.l lhe: OUbldc wudJ.'1IHcll1ally. And till the "i.11I ,h;at deuecu the: ~fTOWI oC SIlOW
(Iuuugh hi::i l:tullcriligs in his own mu:.L t:»clltial rcluuuus, those the Ipc::olll of wuuer ... UI (:l5o-!J!J. U;,alu. Flu.) .,J,uJ,· FiuI:;culd)
wlll«-h tXIlh define alld cxplcn what .. mall b. he le.n us Ihal one A lhcral tr:.&n:.latiun makes the COIlUCCIIUU a lillie snore expticn:
yCocs nut devalue tht: human realm without lIuing hunu to hi:. own
He h;,u tOiuglu hllllM:1I to Ike lhe mi~ilc:i of Inuu
humauuy. J\nLil:)one. wilh her "'U:'01ULC valuariun of human lies,
01 the upcn .. If (c,u,wllrclU,) l.holl w..&Lc h olHl lot.1glUg
would then cXlJre~ the 1ulle:'l development o[ Lhi:l humallily and and we ..rrows 01 storm,
iu her NiolH:~inlaHe rJ)C::s to ahumL god-like )LaLUl'e.1:.,c:uu. having
demeaned the lanctity o( these tlL-S. i:l lett wiLhout any. and hence Tho .lOrID described by the guaru fill. "tho open air" (alther,
:M:arcc1y human, a nonc:ntiLy••1$ he sap, at the end, ooe)('lslill~ no _i 15• .f u ). and the IIllal;;c of arrows or 1I11~,:)ilc:i was u,:)c.t.1 111 Creun's
more than ... nobody," 01'. as WyL'Koll lranslala. 001 who fun ~rcvto~ ilngry il~tervlcw wuh the gllOiuJ (:.l.P. k.ccpil4; the rcarl-
nothing more than nOlhing now" (1!S2!t). lllg 01 the .M),i. With JclJtJ) and hi to be used a~;'lIn by hun, a leu in
(Exlernally, ,lhr~ugh.lho iurervenuon 01 the divine powers in the \ a~~<:r. a~~lI1u 1't:lrc~ia~ (IU~3-~H). ell-on. him:.cll is Ic)puu:.ilJlc:: fur
person o[ TCUC'Slas, Creon learns by coercion thal there are areas a .tonu of sorts, for the: guard l.>cglns his )C(:OllJ SU:Ilc: wuh Creon
ol existence th.. t ·cannot or should nut he ~ulJjeClC:lI to courrot and by docribing. hu. linat Interview III terms ot "I he srorru of your
authority. nut thb compulsion (rom the rcalm o( the gmhl and. thrc04u. to which 1 was )uujctt" (3~)I). before gUlllg Oil to rhe rea!
the n:.&tur;&l world is. at alice brought home to him in terms of his atorm In -i 17 IT. COOliJined with the animal auJ hUlllHlg: lIuagc::s lU
own {ate, -.nd he il touched uy the uroatJer revc:nah cunnc:t:lct.l 4 15. II. and ~55 (.oe a1.>ove) lhe eQmra'l W~lh lito 0<1c .. illl"re",ve.
with the lJinls throu~h the: animal-imaB'"cry of his sou's aucl11plt:J. '1 iliac themes of ihdtc::r ano exposure have also lhe iJroadcr
parricide and dcath. ThuJ the two re_InUl. iUlcrnal and external, implicaciolu of communal lite In gCllcral appear:> lrolU Hacmou 'a
human worlu anu nalural world aro in>Cl'arauly linkeu, anu 1{jII" CfQII.6--Cx.aminillion o( Crcon:
phay, in iu greaUI~ aflu complc:xily, ia ..n t:xpn:~ion ot this unity.
Creon. 11 nOI the pOUI conaidcred ;u bdoflHing to lhe ruler?
The cou(ouuc..Iing o( 'OIlI\clle" .-sud wihlnc:JS in Hac:mun', ueath llUfROlt. You would c1I.crcite .. gU04.J rule JiIOhe. uver .. ot:.cnct!
it connected with an' even more (unuameutal rc:ven",l in the pby (.,cmuI) lall~ (7'9'-Iu).
allu with another qualificalion 01 Croon'. viewl of civililalion.
Thia appears in Iho Iheme of .hcllor. In Ihe .econd lCeno with And aomolhing of lhi. ,uglle.dun i! aCleu QuI whon. ,ub,equootly,
lhe gu..rd which (ollowa [he ode On man and is an obvioul pen· Creon maka AOliKonO "ue>Crled," "i,ulaled" (aemus, tltl7, yly),
dam 10 lhe finl lCene in Ihis .ymmolrically .lruclUreu play, lhe and hor cavo II in. a wild anu "doerleu" (eremus, 715) place.
guaru dwell. On hi. and hi. companion.' oXl'osuro 10 lho .temellta Thua Croon, for all hb prai.>o of "law," h3:1 (aileu 10 !>ra.p 'Ome of
as lhey walch Ihe l>o<Jy: lho for,e 01 lhe winu•• lhe hoal, Ihe opell the eucntial qualitiel of dvili.t:adon t~k.en In iu Lr04u..ler, more
air, Ihe barron hill. (~,o 11.). Tho faci lhal lhe"" uelail. ,ume '0 humane lCnlC: and he appean as rc::versing. as It Wt:I'C. lhe procc:,u
won aher U,e ode ia .ignificaOl, (or U,ero .heller (;OUl alorm anu Ihe of civHizalion Iud! in exposing man to Ihe dC'sol~liun and vl<r
loac.e oI Lbe world Ue h... ,ul'p"'euly cOIHluereu.

Sophucle,' Proof: 0/ Man arid tile (;uufllCh uJ llu Auttgune

birds. In the corpse, as in the 5101111 uud in Antigune', cave. we

CUe reminded of the reality ol the still untamed will1nos which
lies outside human civif izaucn. Like rhe plague: in the Oedipus

"rhis "regressive" tendency Is present in the Iumlamental suua..

lion 01 the 1'101 '!>ell. the exposure 01 a mau'. booy 10 uug. and
8. Charl':J Paul Segal
dependence and control affirmed by Creon. A5 the presence or
the exposed al~tl a'.limal'lUrll booy males dear. the purely man.
centered magnlficallon ol human acluevemern ulay involve para.
doxicaUy. a debasement 01 man. •
Rex, the 'lIouldcriug corpse. but elll·t:lively described (see, 11. is not that tb e confidence of the lir't ataalmon is utterly
e.g. :lE9·~o. tU!) L. "'10) mal.CS us uucomlurtably aware of someuung negated. :-he in,lage, of man's greatness persists throu~houl the
dblurbing. ollenaive, nauseating. play. but It penilsu In the figure ol Antigone rather than Creon.
In the Greek. view. however. these physically ollensive elements The qua lificarlon ol the: view of man implied In the otic only
have a prolouuder relil;ious 11I;;nilit:al1cc. 'riley constitute, as Teire- woru toward a clearer definition or the wholeness of man. the
,i'ilI brings home. a "Ualma, a "polturiou,' an inlectious t .. int feminine with the masculine, the weakness and uncertnnuv ~hkh
which is the concrete manitcstauou of a violation ot some rellgtous arc: ~Iway. ~ere, even in his most splendid achievements, the
sanction. The: exposed corpse is both an outrage ol moral ,anctions nOlhmgncsa In the (ace or which his greatness is asserted. 'This
and a source 01 real "pollution:' a possible cause: ol plague, bli~ht. gn:alneu. a.a Sophocles sees it, has not reached iu full measure
barrenness, 01 the outbreak a~ainsl man ol all the unconrrollable unless it has conrrO~tc.d its Own negation in death. 'This Antigone
and myncriow lorces on which his survival depends, When the alone does. Death LS merely brushed asule in the ode on man
rj~ht relation with these lorces I' broken. man's very existence is U(h..(j2) and' used as a threat of punishment. another instru-
threatened, on the level both 01 poliricalxoherence (see rudo 11.) ment 01 control, by Creon.
and personal happiness (as Creon is to learn). V Vel here the Iates 01 the two protngonlsts, AlIliJ;one unshake-
.,......As leader ol the polu Creon mll~t be concerned with such ably firm and accepting death heroically, Creon crushed to "rioth-
pollutions; yel it i. only superficiallj' that he KraSll$ the siJ;niH, jng~:u" (13 25), are at extreme polari·lics. 'Though the original
cance of a "pollution" coming from a Violation ol the divinely positions ol Itrong and weak are reversed. the two arc still scpa-
establtsbed order ot lhin~. In his limltcll coucern (or the way In rated each Irom the other a. by an infillile gnlL In the Oedipus R"x
which the city will "escape polhuion' (77ti). in the case or AntiJ;~ ?r perhaps a decade later Sophocles' at;J;lcmei,t about the complex
one's death and, more mal kedl)', in hi:s lIyln hi it: st ate ruerrt auout. Inl.erplay or human gre::atness anti human weakness will be more
man's not being able to "pollute the /!;(MI'" (IO.I:i L) he ehowe his rully unified into a l(oHle prolagul1ist. And at the cud of his life
lack 01 a sense 01 the larger sphere 01 which the poli s, and every he will again UJ.(: the figure of Oedipus as his prototype ot a Mill
human creauon. may be a pan. Nt:;u the very cno, in a (inal more profound restatement of lhis complex relurion,
ullcrance about pollution. he conveys his newly·,:;ainc::d sense:: or The forceful prelence: of dealh. whclhcr in the. exposel1 l1e:.ul
the: limitalions 01 human 3ction: "0 harbor 01 II:lt.lC:5, hurd to body or in Antigone::'s acceptance' of a living dealh. sharpc.:n~ the
purify. why. why do you UOlroy llIe" (12ij4 I.; sec aha 1'4')- problem of the nalure amI dignity o[ man.4Jcath can ue a tleK-
Tluu the corpse. in iu connections with the themes both of ral1alion or an affirrnadon of human value in the face of inllexiulc
.hc:he::r :and pollution. ~rves as an active link bctwe::C'n the two nece::t.!.Itia.Sj(nligone'. clC'3lh aHirlUs I.hls value not olily Cor herself
alJXcu o[ Creon', "irreligious" attitude. his degratlation or OIan"'" but abo for the dishonored corpse. For her it is still a h~man li~Ulc.
:lnd his disrcKard of the divine "30(110115. ·1'he two themes are Ilill iruerarable [rom a human p-ersonality.KCrC'on. in maltrcatiul{
linked. o( [oun<.. in AntiKonC' lOO, ror hcr lHusal o( Pulynckt:s is the cor!",e::. deY4illueJ also the image:: oi living man. It is inlcrcsLill~
bolh a vlfldicalion o( the divine sanctions and :l more ~\Hhentic to conSider Creon's aci. in the Ii~ht of the Ilt~iJ.;IHcncd empha:sis on
aUU:IDC'nt o( the dignity 01 Ul:;111 than the: :.useniol1 o[ hurnan in~ the human fonn in the mid fifth century. Sophodc, prcscnu a
play llul cenlen about the desceradoll oC a human fJody at the:
Suphvclcs' PrG'JI: 01 Alan and lite Cou/llell oJ lhe Allllguue C/U.lrlCJ Paul Segal

very rime thaI his ccnremporaries wOlliul{ 011 the Palllu:Hun were: the: &late ancr the ben elements in herself, it an expression
di~overing and cltprc»ing the bc.auty awl uulJiJily of mau':a lJoUy a.a oI her own lull huuranuy,
it h"d never been expressed betore. II has often been suggested, as noted earlier, that Sophocles iu-
Again, therefore, Creon's act has implicatiuns which he him- tended the play. at least in pan, as a quahticauon of the ruuonul£ does not rc:,,1ile~l rc:ganlinl:1 deurh a:t uuurhcr IIl::tlrunu:11l uf optimum of the: flLth·cenlury "eulighunent" as cxprcSlicJ 111 the
courrul, not as a necessary condiuou of CltblCIH.C: to be approached apq:uJ"lloru of Proragoras, Allaxag:ora..3. Democruus, Hippocrates,
wiLh compassiou and unUChlOUu..Iing, Creon dbvalucrs his :..ulljedJi Hippodarnus of Miletus, It may be too. as h as been mainuuned,
and uhimaltly hiwself. lie denies Ihal the stare ha. a pluce lor UI04t behind the picture of Creon 1ic~ some reference 10 the "proud
de.. th In Ihis lauer, generic sense. Yet at the end he who had and austere" Perrcles hunself, "who wuh all hi' Ldid in humanity ordered the maltreatment oI a botly euters hilll::tdC wou so much 1Q.1 'human' rhan, for maumee, Suphoda:'
c"Hying a corpse. and one th:d Ii "not ..norhers" but hi~ own BUl the: i.s.oUC'I go Iar beyond the reference 10 specific men or
(1.1(57-60)- As • killg. he h;u dhmisaed or "used' death, ouly to cliUI of men. 'They arc concerned wnh uetiluJ1l{ lhal in wh ich
discover and experience it as a man. mortul and lied 10 monal DUO·. hum..m ily COllSI:iU. Man would like to bcl ieve. the play
lx:ings/11c:nce Creon'••uue-cerucred view or man reveals us iu- J.CcULI to uy, Ihat he: has developed "wundcrfu!" resources lur
lIJc(luadc."3 in wiuc:ning areas 0Ui the play proceeds and l:i shown understanding and cOllullalHling: hu world. Yet Ulan thc::'
to Involve the loss of the Iull hUluouaily nut only oC the BubJcct or deviser is not enough. "rhu:s In t he course of rhe play aU rhc
cirircn, but of the ruler as well. apparent conlluC1U enumerated in rhc linl srasunou prove to have:
A political or histortcal iurerprctai ion of a work or the ma !{ni~ a double edge. The sea, controlled proudly in the ode (~~5 II.) and
rude or the Autigon« is, of cOUJ:'C. iuudcquure; yel lhe Iustor irul for Creon, Irorn hjs lirst appeoarauce. lJoa:;tCully assocuned wu h
'Iue has some wider ranges or Iiignificauce. 'The play. at one level, polinca! control (the slup of stare: see 16. if.. IH~o~o, erc.), return.
is .. lmo:lll cerraiuty a srarerneru about the nature and ic..leau of in subsequent odes in connccnon with the helplessness uf irrational
Athenian democracy, It rejects the autocratic materiullsm ami aulfering (>ee 581 n, 953 If., ~(jli ILl, until Creon him.tlf speak. of Ill.
narrow ralJonali:Hn irnplicti in Crcon', outluok., whkh rC:::ilriCIa disa.uCf, ironically, as a "harbor" (utl.l). The animal:.; and lllnl,
motu'J nacure to a lunccional capadty. him to a mcmlu:r deKri~ in the antiscrophe (1i'I:i~lx:(orne Iilc we:.::tenv;cr.i of (he
of a polillcal unit ollly. What Antigone dcmamb, Oil the OIlier viohuw divine order ollhn,lgs.,,1 I, iU.lhe imagt:ry (O~HlCl'I.CU. wilh
hOlnd, i. lhat lhe :;lale take 11110 ic~cI( Ihe :.alU:tlty oC uloud Idd,~ H.:ac::mon·1 death. Ollm():,j;t the lIIuuct.h IIlSlrUmelib uC Crcon:s doum.
lion:. the value oC aflcClJolJ anu t1ll01i0llal dc:::t, Ihe ulliquc l1 c :i S of Speech and communication ('51) tJcg:cllerouc hun ranling ami in-
the i:ll.Jivit.Jual. '·he cOIH:c(Jdou iccms not unlik.c: thal pUl Cunh in lull or the Uller, anhnOlI·like liilco(e of Ibemon al Ihe: eno . .shelter
PCrlc1o' l:une:r..1 ~l)(:ec~a: and lhe fruits of mOll1'5 dty·cn:aling Icmpcr (:lce ~55·!)(j) arc dClIlCU
the corpac: and even the KUilnla who walch It. and arc: IJcg-au:'t1 abo
JI it true 111:'1 we lire c:tlled .. dcmorraq, for lhe: admlfllsfralion is in in Antigone'. desolate place: oC burial. Evt:n Ihe conquest of di,-
thc: h.. nd, oC che many OIlId lIot of lhe Cew. Hut while the i.lw :u:CurCI
cue (363.6,,) rebounds on man in Ihe "c.livilic lIi)ca~" of Ihe )Iorm
equ.. 1 jut-liu:: to .. 11 ."Iik.e in their )ldvalc ,U,hpUI;". ,Ihe uf c.:lLc:d.
Icncc II also recoKni;,;cd: ."lId when a cllucn II III OIuy w .. y dn,lIu·
('P:5) and, more: scriot.nly. in lhe p.olJualon whh which the dty "is
guilhetl. he i. prdcrrcd 10 Ihe pul.Jlic.• ervk~, lIul ... ~ m..uer l)f
di£c;" a.a a rC"::iult oC Creon', "Ihought" ur "julcllig-ellc.e" ( 10 15).
privilege. bUI ;u the rewilrcJ of weill. (I hUCYUlCje~, 1·.57·', If. Joweu.) h il only ueath, Ihal alone which man ('aUllul conlrol or "Hee,"
AI the ooe 'uys <.~(j I). which proves che fuHc::tt tuuc!lslOflC of man'5
In Juch a ,laic an Anlig-one could exist-pcrhap5 in a rtlll~r ,,:,a y grc;uncu and Ihe lruest meau:s (0 hi:! asst:uioll of hi' human.n y•
than Pc:ricla inlc:uth-demaut..liul:; her rig,hLl awl lhereby z.haplllg The JJnl'-gone is IliB bleak. anu uark. oy c.umparisuu to l.he iuLJllue

~,._-~.-- .. _-- ... "'-
f ock,; rr.;~ 01 Man and the COllfllctJ oJ rill: Antigone: 8~ of the Oedipus at CutOtlUJ where the hero discovers his

A"C'~It:l1 powers in his sdf.guiut'u movements at his call to death.
.,,-el in the Antigone 100 a sell-accepted deuth is the source 01 what
is beautiful and heroic in the play. Hut if Anugonc. wilh her heroic
acceptance of the unknown. of death, most fully vindiciltes the
dignity of man. Creon comes to act out the equally trag,ic prCKC"
of becoming fully human. Wilh Antigone's death there comes,
Ihrough the blinu"e.., and helplcssness 01 the seer, the rebirth of
Creon', humanity, uurit he too is plunged amid loss ami s.. Hering
iuro his own experience of the "uuwriuen Jaws" whit-h all men
must bee as mortal beinbP'J who sometime encounter the unknown
and unknowable. And in his encounter he passes hom hi, ('OIO~
munal position ilS head of slate to a loneliness and isolation perhapo
~re terrible th..n Anti~uJ1c'J.
Alitigollc'J view. rhen, (or all iu id~~ism, is more "reallst!c,"
in the- full tragic sense, than Creon's. (fo live humanly. in Suph-
ocles' te-rms, is to "now ftlily the condirious of man's existence:
and lhis means to accl:pt the ~ods who. in Ihdr limitless. 3J.;1·lrss
power (sec 004 11.) are those condiuous, the unbeudiug rea lilies
of the universe]
Sophocles never laY' lhat to accept the condirions is easy. Yet
he seems abo to assert that man not only mU~1 arn:pt the nnuH·
tions, but that he has, or finds, the slren~th to do 50. Even Creon,
though far Irom the broken bUI still illlpcrluus Oedipus at rhe
end of the TyrannUJ, UO<:l not kill himself, crushed as he i s, lie
sutlers and endure'S.
It is in his appreciation of human greatness that Sophocles is
the true contemporary of the IU:lIcsm:UI who apousorcd the new
Acropolis and Parthenon .... nd of the rh inker who said that "Man
iJ the measure or all things:' But he is a universal tragic poet in
hiJ deeply felt knowledge th a l man's human (jualities. in all Ih~ir
grealnesa. involve recognition of the unyielding factuality of "rlre
things Iha, arc," the gods, The first etaaimun is juslly deecrfbed
aJ a pralse of man; but exactly what in man Sophocles is praising
can be seen only in terms of the enure play. In another chorus
the elden .ing. "Norhing of magnitude comes into the liIe 01
mOriah wilhoUI .uHering and disaster" (613"~)'