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Antigone Summary – Sophocles

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Antigone PDFIt cannot get more tragic than this: Antigone, the child of an incestuous marriage of one of the most famous of Sophocles’s heroes Oedipus, suffers after the death of her father-brother, because of the quarrel of her other brothers.

Wait, what?

Yes, we know that family relations are a bit complicated in Greek tragedies, so read on to try to untangle them.

Yes, this is a dare.

Who Should Read “Antigone”? And Why?

“Antigone” is a play named after the tragic female protagonist that decides to follow her own heart and overlook the orders of the king – and bury her brother, who has been left in public shame.

If you are a Greek tragedies lover, then oh, how satisfied you will be!

Sophocles Biography

Sophocles BiographySophocles is an ancient Greek playwright and is one of the three playwrights whose work survived until the modern day.

He has written over 120 plays during his lifetime, but only a few have been kept in their complete form.

In Athens, he was celebrated as the best playwright for a long time.

His works remain as one of the classics and are studied all around the world, as the basis of tragedy.


The play starts with the Chorus which introduces the characters.

We are told that Antigone is a girl that will die young and that the play will recount the events that lead to the tragical ending.

The play starts at the moment when the events of Sophocles’s other tragedy Oedipus Rex end: Oedipus is dead – and now Creon is the kind of Thebes.

He became king after the civil war in which the brothers of Antigone and Ismene Eteocles and Polynices killed each other, fighting for the opposite sides.

After their death, the new king Creon, decided that Eteocles will be buried and honored, while the other brother Polyneices will be left unburied on the battlefield, in public shame, the worst punishment of that time.

The play begins at dawn, while everyone is still sleeping, except Antigone, who sneaks into the house, and the Nurse that catches her sneaking in.

The Nurse asks her from where she is coming from, and so does Ismene, her beautiful sister, when she suddenly walks in.

Later on, Antigone reveals to Ismene that she has buried her brother, despite the orders of the king and despite the fact that Ismene did not want to help her.

At some point during the day, Creon finds out from one of the Guards that Polyneices’ body has been covered with dust by someone and that burial rites have been performed by someone, despite the king’s order.

Creon is furious: he orders that the body is uncovered and the culprit found.

Soon, the guards bring Antigone in front of Creon. Creon questions her, and she does not deny her actions; instead, she argues with him.

He becomes even more furious, and sends for her sister Ismene, thinking she also knew about the plan.

Ismene, despite not knowing anything, confesses to the crime. She does so falsely, not wanting for her sister to die alone.

However, Antigone does not the situation like that, and in the end, Creon imprisons them both temporarily.

Haemon appears on the scene, seemingly wanting to support his father’s decision.

However, we find out that he only wants to free Antigone, since she is his fiancé, and when he does not succeed in persuading his father to spare her, they start a quarrel that ends with Creon threatening to kill the girl in front of his son.

Haemon leaves the stage, vowing that he will never see Creon again.

After having some time to think, Creon buries Antigone in a cave, while she is still alive, and spare the life of her sister.

She is taken to the cave, regretting that she will die just because she followed the laws of the gods.

In the meantime, Tiresias, the blind prophet, enters the scene warning Creon that he should bury the body of the dead Polyneices, since the gods have become very angry, and will not accept any prayers and sacrifices from Thebes if he does not do so.

Creon accuses the prophet saying that he is corrupt, and sends him off.

On his way out, the prophet warns him that he will lose a son because of his sin.

All of Greece starts hating Creon when none of the sacrificial offerings are accepted by the gods, just as they warned him.

Creon realizes that he needs to bury Polyneices and set Antigone free to calm the wrath of the gods.

However, soon news arrives: Antigone has killed herself. Creon has buried Polyneices’ body, but has arrived at Antigone’s cave too late – she has already hanged herself.

He found his son mourning over her body.

When Haemon saw him, he rushed towards him to kill him. He did not succeed, and thus, he stabbed himself.

Creon enters the stage, carrying his son’s cold body. He receives even worse news: his wife has killed herself, with her last breath cursing her husband.

Antigone Epilogue

By the end of the play, Creon is broken: he knows that he is at fault for the tragedy. However, no matter how sad and hurt he is, he is still the king.

The Chorus closes the play with the premise that gods always punish the proud, but that punishment and tragedy also bring wisdom.

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“Antigone PDF Quotes”

All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride. Click To Tweet Go then if you must, but remember, no matter how foolish your deeds, those who love you will love you still. Click To Tweet A man, though wise, should never be ashamed of learning more, and must unbend his mind. Click To Tweet There's nothing in the world so demoralizing as money. Click To Tweet I was born to join in love, not hate - that is my nature. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

In “Antigone,” one of the most famous Greek tragedies, you get a look at family relationships, honor, tragedy of power, the connection between man and society, law and moral.

And, even more importantly, you get a strong female protagonist, that has inspired many women in history to risk their lives to bury their dead brothers and husbands after they encountered the tragedy of war.

We let you be the judge of how good or bad that influence was after you read the play and understand this woman’s heart.

Also published on Medium.

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