The things you need to know before reading


(A comprehensive introduction to the Greek tragedy!)

Antigone FACTS:
‡ Written By Sophocles in or around 441b.c.
± One of only seven of his plays to survive. It is estimated that he wrote over 125 in his lifetime.

‡ Thought to be one of the first stories written with a woman as a powerful figure.

Issues in Antigone
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ families torn apart by political differences gender bias the death penalty suicide CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

Why Greek plays are different from other plays:
‡ Most plays are written and performed to entertain an audience, however Greek plays were written as part of a religious festival. ‡ To attend these plays was an act of worship, not just for fun. ‡ Most people who attended the plays already knew the story, because the plays were rewritten about stories already told. ‡ Also, EVERYONE went to see these plays. They were presented at annual festivals and judged.

Cross-Dressers and PG13 Theater!
‡ Apparently the Greek playwrights never put more than three actors on stage, except in very small roles. ‡ No women appeared on stage, female roles were played by men. ‡ Violence was also never shown on stage. When somebody was about to die, they would take that person to the back to "kill" them and bring them back "dead."

‡ There were several prop items commonly used in Greek theatre:
± deus ex machina, a crane that gave the impression of a flying actor ± ekeclema, a wheeled wagon used to bring dead characters into view for the audience ± trap doors, or similar openings in the ground to lift people onto the stage ± Pinakes, pictures hung into the scene to show a scene's scenery ± Thyromata, more complex pictures built into the second-level scene (3rd level from ground)

Setting for Antigone:
‡ Set in the mythical past of ancient Greece.

Who is Oedipus?
He is drama!
‡ He was born to the King and Queen of Thebes, a city in Greece. ‡ When he was born, a fortuneteller said that he would kill his father and marry his mother, so his parents left him on a mountain to die. ‡ Oedipus was rescued, and when he was a man, was traveling and met another man which he killed (which turned out to be his father). He went to Thebes, met the Queen (who was really his mother) and married her. (He didn¶t know he had killed his father and married his mother!) ‡ Soon he realized what had really happened, his mother/wife killed herself, and he stabbed his own eyes out.

The basics to get you started:
‡ After Oedipus is persecuted (for killing his father and marrying his mother), he leaves the throne of Thebes to his two sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, who must take it in turns to rule. ‡ Eteocles rules first but the two become enemies after Eteocles refuses to give up the throne, and Polyneices is exiled. He returns to attack. At the beginning of the play, both brothers are dead, apparently killed by each other. ‡ The current ruler, Creon, has made a decree: Since Polyneices fought against Thebes, he shall not be buried. Meanwhile, Eteocles is to be buried with full military honors. ‡ This is the start of the major conflict in Antigone.

Why is Polyneices not being buried such a big deal?
‡ The Greeks believed that the spirit of a dead person could only enter Hades on after the body had been purified and buried. If this was not done, the person hovered at the gate of Hades, neither alive nor completely dead. In other words, they couldn¶t R.I.P (rest in peace)!

Quick FYI
‡ Hades is not like the Christian Hell. Often you hear them used interchangeably; however, in Greek religion Hades had a division for the ³good´ and ³bad.´ Thus, everyone went to Hades (unless they were stuck hovering at the gate)

Why is Antigone significant?
‡ Women were not given powerful roles in any type of literature, and this was one of the first plays to present such a dominant female role.

Important Characters! !
(And why you should care about them, other than the fact that I said they are important!)

‡ The daughter and sister (yuck) of Oedipus. ‡ Upset that her brother has not been buried. ‡ Engaged to Haemon ‡ The play¶s protagonist.

‡ Oedipus¶s brother-in-law. Antigone¶s uncle. Haemon¶s father ‡ Becomes the ruler of Thebes once Eteocles and Polyneices have been killed. ‡ Bossy, arrogant, and stubborn.

‡ Antigone¶s sister. ‡ Oedipus¶s daughter.

Eteocles and Polyneices
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ The sons of Oedipus and Jocasta. Fought each other for the rule of Thebes. They kill each other. Eteocles was the ruler of Thebes and Polyneices invaded to gain control. ‡ Polyneices is the one that Creon won¶t bury.

‡ Creon¶s son, who is engaged to marry Antigone. ‡ (That makes him her cousin!)

Family Tree
Creon *Jocasta & Laios


Oedipus & *Jocasta


Polyneices Antigone


* Indicates the same person!

‡ A blind prophet who advises Creon. ‡ Has lived life as both a woman and a man. ‡ Blinded by the Goddess, Hera, for not agreeing with her in an argument with Zeus.

Chorus :
± The Purpose of chorus was to act as a link between the actors and the audience. ± They moved in unison and spoke in unison.

‡ the head chorus member who could enter the story as a character able to interact with the characters of a play.

What¶s the point of reading it?
‡ To analyze your beliefs about family loyalty, ‡ To identify instances of gender bias, ‡ To evaluate your opinions about the death penalty, ‡ To teach you the idea of Civil Disobedience and see it in the word TODAY!

Some of Mrs. Falati¶s final thoughts about why ³Antigone´ ROCKS!
‡ It¶s set during Greek mythology and includes cool characters like Tiresias (was a man AND a woman AND predicts the future«need I say more?) ‡ It has a power-house woman who stands up for her family in even if it breaks the law. ‡ It¶s a tragedy so people DIE!

Journal Prompts
pick two and write half a page about each:

1. Why is it important to pay attention to the truth? 2. Explain the importance of family, and the lengths to which you would go to honor your family. 3. Do you believe in fate, or do you believe that people control their own destiny? 4. When you are faced with a problem, what do you do to fix it?

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