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  • A girl was forcibly married to a man. When she was married, she could not go to the dinner parties, where men came and were served by servants.
  • A girl could never be a citizen.
  • Girls had no schools and, if rich, could get a tutor to be taught.

Antigone is breaking the law because she is trying to bury her brother... this is because she feels she needs to do it for the gods/respect his brother.

Choragos is a part of the Greek's chorus. The Chorus, made up of elders of the community (Theben elders), brings up questions for the audience so they can arrive at the answers to become a good citizen. They agree with Creon because they are against anarchy (without laws = anarchy). The Chorus is a dynamic character, so they change.

Antigone is not a collective society compared to Anthem.

Athens and Sparta, mainly the Spartans (you personally don't matter, you matter as a community), were big Greek units.

Stubbornness is frowned upon in Antigone (a mark of an uninformed person).

Tragic hero: You realize you did something too late in the tragedy.

When the Choragos comes in and defends Antigone, in which Creon obeys: "God moves swiftly to cancel the folly of stubborn men" (page 519) - If you remain stubborn, God will do something to you. Antigone is found dead by suicide (hanging): too late.

"There is no happiness in the loss of wisdom. You have to submit to the gods and you should not be stubborn. Eventually, the stubborn learn to be wise" - Choragos' moral of the story.

  • Oedipus-complex - Youngs boys would be jealous of their fathers since they love their mother so much (Sigma from Sophocles). It's a universal theme: Every man lock horns with their father.

Ode 1[edit]

Poetic Analysis--Specific Questions on Ode 1, stanza by stanza:

1st stanza[edit]

1. The syntax of the first independent clause is object-verb-subject. Reverse that syntax and write the entire first clause (up to semi-colon) as we would normally say it: subject-verb-object. The world’s wonders are numberless

2. Write the one word that QUANTIFIES in the first clause. Numberless

3. So how many wonders of the world are there? Infinity

4. What is the greatest wonder of the world? Man

5. List 2 one word examples of areas where man has shown his greatness, using exact text. “Sea; Earth”

6. List 2 words or phrases about TIME. “year after year; timeless”

7. List 2 modifiers of the word “earth.” “holy; inexhaustible”

8. List the one word that is an image of comparison to man. “Stallions”

9. Give the connotations of the word “stallions.” Strong, hardworking

10. Using the 2 examples you found in #5, explain the contrast or antithesis of high to low in terms of “Earth.” Holy; inexhaustible

2nd stanza[edit]

1. In the first 3 lines of stanza 2, list the main verb. tamed

2. List 2 important objects of the preposition in line 3. Taken, timed

3. Give one example of sensory imagery in line 4. “windy-manned”

4. In the last 3 lines of this stanza, list the 2 important verbs. “resign; broken”

3rd stanza[edit]

1. Re-order the syntax of the first independent clause, making it more like regular speech— Subject-verb-object. Words in the mind are as rapid as air

2. What is the most important verb of the first independent clause? also

3. Using “category” words that are ALL NOUNS, list 3 areas where man excels. Fashion, carpentry, masonry

4. Explain the diction (word choice) of “arrows” and “spears.” Why does the poet use this diction? To explain how harmful/powerful these forces are

5. Explain the sensory images of #4. What sense is used? Feel

6. What one area has man not conquered? Death

7. Why would the poet choose the word “wind?” Give a connotation of that word that would produce death. How it is fast and unexpected

4th stanza[edit]

  • Now the poems SHIFTS to the wise men of the Chorus’s job of asking the important questions of the drama (the reason it is their civic obligation to go to this performance) and

giving their commentary on those questions.

1. Look at the stanza in terms of couplets. In the first couplet, the chorus begins “O” and then addresses directly an abstract quality. What is that poetic device called? (think JC) Abstraction

2. Name the 2 abstract qualities addressed. Intelligence; death

3. Why would the poet use the punctuation he uses in the first 2 lines? To add emphasis

4. Look at the next couplet. The Chourus’s job is to pose the most important question for the audience to think about. What is that important question? When the laws are broken, then what stands of his city?

5. What is the punctuation at the end of line 3? Why would the poet use that after the sentence? Exclamation; indicate emphasis

6. Look at the last couplet. Observe the syntax and parallel structure. Why does the poet start with a negative word indicating TIME? Emphasis on “never”/no time


In Sophocles’ play, Antigone, the Greek Chorus, the backbone of the play, serves the important role of separating the scenes and questioning events happening.

The first ode (use a good verb) praises man. The Chorus notes man’s abilities to control the sea, keep note of the forces of nature and is able to deflect the cold, but there is one area, death, he cannot conquer. Sophocles uses sensory imagery, precise diction, and forceful syntax to impress upon the audience the foreboding tone of the Chorus.

Sophocles’ figurative language suggests infinite control. Man has figured out how to build ships whose “prows” are borne high on “huge crests” of the sea. He has invented tools such as a plow which haunts the sea in its size. Although the “world’s wonders” are “numberless”, but “none” of the wonders are “more wonderful than man”. The word, “numberless”, describes that there are countless amounts of world wonders present in the world, but none of them stand a chance compared to “man”. The concept of time is also exerted on the audience to carry the notion that “year after year”, the “timeless” work of the “stallions” indicates that man even has power over its neighbors, the animals. The “lightboned birds” to the “beasts” that “cling to cover” encompasses all the types of animals, from the microscopic and powerless to the gigantic and most dangerous. Sophocles goes on to show that even the little animals have a power to them, stating that the “lithe fish” lights light up the “dim water”. All of these powers exemplified by the animals are “tamed” in the “net of his mind”. Mankind has studied and stored these significant animal powers in their own minds, once again, showing how powerful man really is.

The negative tone of the final stanza drastically differs from the rest of the poem. The first two sentences both contain apostrophes that call out to “clear intelligence” and the “fate of man.” The poet thus warns that mankind’s intelligence, which can be used for good and bad, can make the state stand proud or fall. He then proceeds to talk about the laws and their relationship with the pride of their respective city. The Chorus goes on to question the reader, “what of his city then?”, when the “laws are broken”. Sophocles intrigues the reader into what would become of a land without obeyed laws. A warning follows afterwards, stating the “anarchic man” will never “find rest at my hearth”, going against the principles of anarchism. The author thus informs the audience that they should never say “my thoughts are his thoughts”. The Chorus makes it evident that they do not agree with anarchy, thereby sending a tough warning to Antigone.

Study Guide[edit]

One of the great achievements of Athens, besides democracy for which they are best known, was the development of Theatre, the first in the western world. It was part of the festival of Dionysus so that it began as a ceremony of praise and prayer, performed on a circular floor with masks to worship of the god Dionysus, the god of theater.

The Golden Age of Greece was during the 5th century BC when Sophocles wrote. Theatre came to assume great importance in Greek society and attendance was required of all citizens. Explain why: The myths of the Gods were sacred to the Greeks. Theaters taught the rules of the Gods to the people.

The audience was very lively and reactive, hissing if they did not like a performance. How could you tell if they liked the tragedy? They would cry.

Mature tragedy, as described by Aristotle in his Poetics, the founding document of Literary Criticism, gives the characteristics of a Tragic Hero and explains the need for catharsis, a purging of emotions.

The playwright Sophocles - his jobs: Wrote the play, composed all the music, directed and supervised the rehearsals. (Poet, playwright, dramatist, tragedian)

Sophocles’ Antigone follows the structure of a Greek tragedy and contains each of the following:

I. Prologue: Spoken by one or two characters before the Chorus appears. The prologue usually gives the background information needed to understand the event of the play.

II. Parados: the song sung by the Chorus as it makes its entrance

III. Scenes/Episodes: the main action of the play

IV. Odes: songs (and often dance) that reflect on the events of the episodes, and put the plot into some kind of larger mythological framework. They are sung by the Chorus.

  1. The strophe: meaning “turn” is the first stanza of an ode and is essentially the first half of a debate or argument presented by the Chorus. In reciting the strophe, the Chorus moves from the right of the state to the left..
  2. The antistrophe: the other half of the debate or further exploration of the argument initially presented in the strophe. The word itself means "to turn back," which makes sense given that the chorus moves in the opposite direction of the strophe; for the antistrophe, the movement is left to right. The antistrophe serves as a response to the strophe, but it does not get the last word. The antistrophe only complicates the issue and makes it difficult to see the correct answer or path for characters to take.

A. Choragos: the leader of the Chorus who often interacts with the characters in the scenes. He is a wealthy citizen who pays for the performance—a position of great honor)

B. Chorus: the singers/dancers who move in unison and remark on the action—they are Theban Elders (experienced and wise). The word “choros” means “dance,” not song.

C. First actor = Thespis

  • KNOW the functions of the Greek Chorus: Background of the action, introduced new characters, pointed out the significance of the events, given the outlook of society, cover the passage of time, separate the episodes.

V. Paean: a prayer of thanksgiving to Dionysus in whose honor the Greek plays were performed VI. Exodos: sung by the Chorus as it makes its final exit, which usually offers words of wisdom related to the actions and outcome of the play

  • Know the background story of Oedipus Rex & its moral:

Study Guide for Antigone:

This is a tragedy about law and judgment.

In order to understand the importance of Greek Drama, you must get the difference between HISTORY and TRAGEDY--define the Greek word mimesis, in particular) represents a lesson to learn = TRUTH (higher) and explain its significance.

Definition of mimesis: imitation of the ideal or universal (not actual or historical)

Aristotle’s Poetics mentions that the tragic error in judgment (hamartia) has an ironic twist: The hero meant to do good, but judged wrongly and did bad.

Initial conflict of the play--note on the Greeks’ feelings about burial rites: Antigone wanting to bury her brother, Polyncedies.

A corpse left in the open to decay was an offense to the gods, and anyone who neglected such a corpse was liable to divine retribution. Even a passer-by had an obligation to toss at least a handful of dust over a body; even a great military leader was obliged to bury the enemy dead, or suffer the death penalty himself. Thus, in a sense, Antigone’s burial of her brother might have kept the anger of the gods from the city of Thebes. Creon, in refusing burial to Polyneices, was asserting his authority over even the gods.

  • For your answers to the questions, write a page number & exact quote when you see [Q].


1. The action of the play begins immediately with a conflict between Antigone and Ismene. What is the cause of the conflict? Polyniece’s body is not going to be buried or mourned for.

2. Ismene and Antigone are strongly contrasted in this scene. What can you tell of Antigone’s character? She is very harsh and rebellious. “Ismene, I am going to bury him. Will you come?” (492) of Ismene’s? [Q] She seems resisting and possibly a “sheep” who follows the laws no matter what. “Bury him! You have just said the new law forbids it!” (492)

3. Note the poetry of the speeches of the Chorus and Choragos who interrupt the action of the play to describe the battle to the audience. What does God hate? Those that fight. “For God utterly hates the bray of bragging tongues, and when he beheld their smiling, their swagger of golden helms, the frown of his thunder blasted, their first man from our walls” (494) [Q]

4. What do these Theban city elders look forward to in the future? The return of the king. “Let Thebes of the many chariots sing for joy! With hearts for dancing we’ll take leave of war” (495) [Q]

Scene 1[edit]

1. What have we already learned about Creon before he appears on stage? His punishment is severe. What is revealed of Creon’s character in this scene? (Remember that characters may reveal their own motives in the motives they attribute to others). He is proud and also feels paranoid about people attacking him at all times

2. What reason does Creon give for his ruling concerning the bodies of Polyneices and Eteocles? One died a traitor and the other one died a hero. How does the Chorus react? They believe Creon has the right to do whatever he wants and not retaliate because he’s only been a king for a day

3. The Sentry is a very ordinary person, even somewhat humorous. What is his fear? Sadness What does Creon think about him? The Sentry wants him to believe he is loyal, honest, blameless, but Creon finds his voice irritating and he isn't 100% honest (has a big disliking towards him).

Ode 1[edit]

1. This ode presents a portrait of human existence—its wonders and its limitations. Restate its main idea in your own words: Humans can control the Earth but not their death (We will annotate Ode 1 fully later for imagery, syntax, diction and tone).

2. The final stanza offers commentary on the problem of the play as it has been developed so far. What does the last question imply? Obey the government laws for the good of the people. Anarchy is the loss of government.

3. What is the Chorus’s position on anarchy? They hate it

Scene 2[edit]

1. Since Greek dramas usually do not move from one setting to another, many of their important actions take place offstage. What major event has taken place before this scene opens as the Sentry enters? Sentry sees Antigone burying Polyneices for the 2nd time

2. Sophocles helps the audience picture what has happened by giving details in the text that use strong SENSORY imagery. Quote some examples: “The White Round Sun whirled in the center of the round sky over us” – movement of the sun over the Sentry

3. How does Antigone defend her actions? She admits her sin and says it was for her brother’s honor/following the gods’ laws.

4. Look at the comment of the Choragos—to whom does he compare Antigone (line 75)? How are they alike? [Q] Her father; they are both arrogant; “Like father, like daughter: both headstrong, deaf to reason!”

5. Quote Creon’s 3 lines about what Antigone needs to learn: “The inflexible heart breaks first, the toughest iron cracks first, and the wildest horses bend their necks. At the pull of the smallest curb”

6. How has Ismene changed since we first saw her in the Prologue? She takes responsibility; How does Antigone treat her? She makes fun of her by telling her she is a blind follower of Creon and tells her it is not worth dying for her.

7. Ismene mentions Creon’s son, Haimon, to whom Antigone is engaged. What does the Choragos ask Creon and what does that TONE suggest? Choragos asks Creon if he really wants to steal this girl from his son and the tone suggests that he is implying it’s a bad idea

Ode 2[edit]

What is the subject of Ode 2? God’s (Zeus) wrath and fate and the foolishness of the arrogance/pride (hubrus)

1. What grave fears for Oedipus’s children does this ode express? Fear of Death

2. What are “mortals” subject to, a common subject of Greek drama? Hubrus (Pride)

3. How would you explain the ancient wisdom in line 28: “Man’s little pleasure is the spring of sorrow”? "Meaning that what one man does to pleasure himself and feel pride, could become the unleash the wave of his sorrows"

4. Define: "Fate works most for woe with folly's fairest show" - Fate mostly causes misery to those who allow foolishness to take over their being.

Scene 3[edit]

1. Haimon is caught in a conflict of loyalties in this scene. What methods and arguments does he use to try to persuade Creon to change his mind? He says he is the best

2. How does he appeal to his father’s self-interest? He deludes his father that he is the best

3. How does Creon react to Haimon’s arguments? He laughs

4. What attitudes does Creon seem to take toward women? Women are inferior to men [Q] “Let’s lose to a man, at least! Is a woman stronger than we?” 5. What function does the Choragos have in this scene? Practices peace and order in the court Whose side, if any, is he on? He finds both sides to be of a very good status: "You will do well to listen to him, King, if what he says is sensible. And you, Haimon, must listen to your father - both speak well" page number 508.

Ode 3[edit]

The first ode was about human strengths and limitations, the second was about fate and the vengeance of the gods. What is the subject of this ode? Power of love (Haimon’s love for Antigone)

Which lines allude to specific characters in the play? “Girl’s glance = Antigone”; “Father and son = Creon and Haimon”

Scene 4[edit]

1. What comfort does the Chorus offer Antigone in this scene? They pity her by comforting her about her mom’s death [Antigone thinks (in line 25) that the Chorus is making fun of her].

2. As Antigone faces her death, does she seem in any way changed from the way she has been in previous scenes? Explain. She’s at more peace

3. Antigone is not to be stoned to death as originally planned. Why does the form of her punishment suit Creon? [Q] Antigone is Creon’s niece and is engaged to his son Haemon—according to the ancient Greeks the killing of a relative would bring bad times: “My hands are clean”.

Ode 4[edit]

Website for summary:

In this ode the Chorus alludes to three Greek myths that were familiar to the ancient Greek audiences. How are the fates of the characters (Danae, Lyucurgos, Cleopatra/two sons who were blinded) in these myths related to Antigone’s fate? They were all put in prison

Scene 5[edit]

1. Creon has refused to yield to the arguments of Antigone and Haimon, and at first, he refuses to listen to Teiresias. Of what does he accuse Teiresias? He is being bribed

4. Teiresias tells Creon that he must “Think: all men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong and repairs the evil”
What is the only “crime”?

4. How does Creon first react to this? He rejects the prophet He then asks for the blind prophet’s prophecy. What is it? “No man who knows that wisdom outweighs any wealth”

5. What does the Choragos say that changes Creon’s mind? “But I cannot remember that he was ever false”

6. How has the character of the Chorus (or its leader, the Choragos) changed throughout the play? [State how the Chorus/Choragos is dynamic]. Chorus used to be on Creon’s side, but now there view has shifted against Creon’s stubbornness and arrogance. [How does this differ from the Council of World Scholars in Anthem?] They are static characters and refuse to change at all.

7. What conclusion can you argue about good leadership of a government based on this Greek model? The leaders must be able to listen and get rid of their pride.

8. The Choragos speaks for Sophocles himself when says what happens to stubborn men at the end of the scene. Quote it: “God moves swiftly to cancel the folly of stubborn men”


1. Violence is certainly a part of Greek drama, but it was never portrayed onstage. Sophocles tells us what happens to the characters in vivid images discusses between the Choragos and the Messenger. What happened to Haimon? He is dead Why? He killed himself due to his anger with his father’s “murder” of Antigone

2. Who overhears the messenger’s tragic story to the Choragos? Eurydice She asks for the truth and says she can take it. The Messenger describes how once Creon changed his mind, he and the messenger went to the outer plain where the corpse of Polyneices lay, “shredded by dogs.” What did they do there? Bathed the corpse with holy water and burned what was rest of it with tree branches

3. When they were done, they ran to the vault and heard a person wailing—who? Haimon

4. What had Antigone done? Killed herself

5. The messenger described how Creon came to his son on his knees; what does Haimon do, first to his father? To himself? He lunges a sword at him, but turns it around and commits suicide

6. After hearing the sad tale, Queen Eurydice leaves. Creon enters, bearing Haimon’s body. What does he say has brought him to “this darkness?” Haimon’s suicide According to Creon, who has been “the fool?” Himself But there is more “burden” to bear--what is it? Eurydice commits suicide, letting her last words be curses to her husband

7. Teiresias’ prophecy from Scene 5 been fulfilled in this scene. Creon REALIZES but too late his error: “[Q] “That is the truth; but you were late in learning it” - 522

8. The Choragos advances and speaks directly to the audience at the end of the play. Quote the last 4 lines of the play (the moral lesson to be learned): “There is no happiness where there is no wisdom. No wisdom but in submission to the gods. Big words are always punished. And proud men in old age learn to be wise”

Themes of the play[edit]

1. In his last words, the Choragos states one of the major themes of the play. What is it? Arrogant men will not succeed (hubris: arrogance; catharsis: purging of emotion; pathos = pity; tragedy: sad, ironic event; hamartia: tragic fall; mime: imitation of the universal); Moral of Oedipus: You cannot escape God’s fate. 2. Where do we observe the theme of the individual conscience in conflict with the authority of the state? Antigone, who is part of the individual conscience, conflicts against Creon, which is the authority of the state What about the conflict between human and divine laws? Antigone is trying to bury his brother for the gods while the human law is Creon. What about loyalty to the family versus loyalty to the state? Antigone; Creon

3. In tragedy, the conflict is rarely between absolute good and absolute evil. How is Creon’s conflict between 2 choices that both seem good (stability of the state and obedience to divine law)? He doesn’t think he is doing anything wrong. Creon says the inflexible heart brakes first and Antigone should not be stubborn like her dad. [Remember the irony of what he told Antigone about being stubborn].

4. What errors in judgment does Creon make? He does not change his mind, thinking that people will think he’s tough if he is stubborn. 5. By the end of the play do you find him a sympathetic character? Why or why not? No, his arrogance and stubbornness need to have been resolved at some point.

[Remember Aristotle’s requirement on audience identification, pathos, and catharsis].

6. Is Antigone worthy and to be honored or foolish and just as proud as Creon? Yes, because she was only trying to honor her brother and she served as a lesson for Creon and other arrogant leaders in the world. 7. The concept of FATE: Are Antigone and Creon helpless victims of Fate, or do they freely choose their own destinies? They both did

8. Who can be considered a tragic hero/heroine and why? (Refer back to Aristotle’s Poetics for your checklist of characteristics). Creon