I quite liked Antigone, it served as a nice break after The Republic. In reading the play I found a couple of things I found interesting, the main point being the role of the prophet, Tiresias. I found it amusing that when Haimon told Kreon what he was doing was wrong he was met with a swift “Don’t ‘father’ me. You’re no man. You’re a slave. Property of a woman” (914-915) but when Tiresias gave similar advice (albeit more theatrical) it was met eventually by a ” I must not fight wrongly, only to be defeated, against fate” (1282-1283)”. It appears, to me anyway, that in order to be taken seriously by Kreon, one must be a blind old prophet. Even when Koryphiaos agrees with what Haimon is saying Kreon dismisses it. He ignores the word of his son and the leader of the chorus (and seemingly his chief advisor) only to eventually accept the advice of an old blind man talking about oozing altars. I understand that respect in such matters comes with age but there is no way Tiresias could have witnessed any of the events he is describing, so essentially Kreon changes his mind on the testimonials of a boy and the grandiose words of a blind old man (backed by Koryphiaos, of course at lines 1268-1270). Those who are close and claim to be close to the gods hold an immense power in Greek culture, one that perhaps surpasses reason in certain cases.

The second thing I found interesting was not in the play itself but a comparison. I though it might be interesting to compare Virginia Woolfe’s essay “The Patriarchy” to Antigone. Although it is a 20th century piece, I think a lot of the themes and ideas found in the essay could relate to Antigone. It might be cool.

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  1. I’m not familiar with the essay by Woolf that you mention here at the end. Perhaps you could explain it briefly, and how it might have similar themes?

    It’s true that Tiresias is highly revered in this play (and others by Sophocles, including Oedipus Rex). He’s also in the Odyssey, too, of course. He seems to be presented as someone who always tells the truth, who has a true gift of prophecy, and whenever people reject what he has to say they come to ruin (Kreon, Oedipus in Oedipus Rex). It’s like a signal–uh oh, this guy’s going to be in trouble b/c he’s not listening to what Tiresias says! Although Kreon does eventually listen, it’s too late by the time Tiresias comes around, and Kreon starts off by accusing Tiresias of lying for profit (which is what Oedipus does as well, if I remember correctly).

    It’s interesting that in this play the words of the gods, spoken through the prophet Tiresias, are in a sense too late. Kreon should have listen to the others earlier and he would have saved Antigone and his son. As Robert Crawford pointed out in lecture (I got notes from Jill Fellows!), the gods are much more absent in this play than in The Odyssey; this play is much more about human relationships. And Kreon should have listened to the humans around him.

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