Question: What does Antigone tell us about man/woman’s relationships in classical Greek Society?
Man and Woman Relationship in Classical Greek Mythology
Man/woman’s relationships with each other
In the story of Antigone Sophocles, the relationship between men and women fall in different categories which include love, hate, fear, and respect. Love is shown in the case of Antigone’s support of her sister Ismene after her parents die. Also Antigone loves her brother Polynices and she risks her life to bury him against the king’s orders. Antigone makes a mockery of Creon when she openly challenges him of about his law that goes against traditions and the law of the gods of forbidding proper burial respect for Polynices (Rogers). Also Heamon shows love when he openly defends Antigone in front of his father and tells him that she should be honored for her bravery not executed. He later commits suicide when he finds out that Antigone has killed herself as a sign of love. Hate is portrayed by Creon who thinks little of women in the society and this is shown by his treatment of Antigone when she is caught having defied his rule (Rogers). He proclaims that it is unthinkable for a woman to defy laws of the land and address her indirectly through the chorus men. He even tells his son to spit on her to show her the rightful position of a woman. Ismene shows fear when her sister asks her to go and bury their brother and because of the fear of her life she refuses. This is an indication of the restriction of the womenfolk to follow rules dictated by the male in the society no matter which god they defy. Antigone even challenges Ismene on why she cannot get the courage to stand up against the king to honor their brother with a decent burial. Heamon shows respect when he enters and addresses his father telling him he is a great ruler and should demonstrate wisdom in judgment. He acknowledges Antigone’s bravery to bury her brother calling it a brave move that should be honored (Rogers).
Man/woman relationship with authority
Creon shows love that he has for authority when he puts the city’s rules and regulations above his sons love and his niece Antigone. He openly shows contempt he has for traitors to the city and to the country, terming Antigone the greatest traitor to her king and country. He does not demonstrate love for family to make an exception of the city’s rule for his son’s plea (Rogers). Antigone on the other hand is ready to defy the rules that go against the laws of the gods and traditions of their communities. She openly challenges Creon about making a law against the laws of gods. The people of Thebes’s fear authority and this is shown by their private support of Antigone’s act which is conveyed by Heamon (Rogers). The guards that are guarding the body of Polynices are afraid when they find out that someone has performed a burial ritual on the body and the kings orders them to find the culprit or the will be held responsible. They rush out and later come happy having caught the culprit (Rogers).
Man/woman’s relationships with the gods
Antigone shows her allegiance to the gods by burying his brother against the king’s orders. She tries to make him see that he is not equal or above gods laws. However, Creon thinks himself as supreme authority and his laws should be obeyed no matter the gods they defy. This is shown when he refuses the advice and warning of the blind prophet and even goes ahead to insult Zeus when he says that the birds might as well take the meat of Polynices corpse to him. Teiresias shows that the people of Thebes honor the gods when he tells the king that peoples offerings are being refused by the gods due to Creon’s sin. He also tells Creon that the might of the gods’ vengeance is not sweet. This shows how gods’ authority is honored in that country (Rogers).
Rogers, Perry. Aspects of Western Civilizations Vol. 2: Problems and Sources in History. 7th ed. Boston Columbus: Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.