Greek Justice In Antigone Essay, Research Paper
In many respects, Sophocles explains the meaning of Greek justice in Antigone.
On the surface, we see Antigone as a conflict between divine law and man’s law.
Antigone is the believer in divine law and Creon is the believer in man’s law.
Sophocles could have suggested one character as morally superiority over the
other. However, Sophocles shows us how justice is equally mitigated to Antigone
and Creon. In presocratic Greece Justice will equally apply herself to both and
favor no one. While rulers demanded social justice from lawbreakers like
Antigone, the Gods also demanded justice from the rulers like Creon. Justice
equally applied herself to the poor and the mighty in presocratic Greece. Creon
and Antigone are the main characters whose inability to listen to reason is
their fatal flaw. Creon is a new leader and feels the need to assert his
authority. This makes him willing to break divine law. Furthermore, Antigone’s
zealot nature forces her to break man’s law. So we see the unwillingness to
reason, corrupt the minds of people with the best of intentions. Justice will
balance the right with wrong and equally apply herself to Creon and Antigone.
Creon begins his rule as an honorable man (200-210). For the good of his country
and all his countrymen, he will make an example of Antigone’s brother, Polynices.
Polynices was a traitor to his country and tried to destroy it. Antigone,
steadfast in her religious beliefs is determined to bury her brother and defy
the orders of Creon. We begin to get a glimpse of Creon’s inability to listen to
reason when he meets the sentry. Creon accuses the sentry of conspiring to
assist Antigone bury Polynice’s body (350-361). Creon’s accusations against the
guard are unfounded, unreasonable and unjust. Creon also shows himself unwilling
to compromise. Creon’s traits are juxtaposed to Antigone’s inability to see her
brother as a traitor and perhaps deserving of some punishment. Antigone is not
interested in persuading Creon. She will bury her brother and she will not back
down from her position. She does not try to persuade Creon. She is following the
law of the God’s. Creon’s justice is of no consequence. We see the two character
heads strong and continue to be inflexible. Even Haemon, Creon’s son who
expresses his concern that perhaps Antigone is justified in burying her brother
cannot persuade Creon. In addition, Haemon states that perhaps Creon should
temper his laws with compassion and let Antigone bury her brother (784-820).
Again we see Creon is unwilling to compromise any part of his position. Echoing
Creon’s coming tragedy, Antigone in the cave laments her death and seems to see
the error in her actions (913-923). All the characters are in motion to meet
their own form of justice. Antigone hangs herself shortly before Haemon enters
the cave where she is kept. A blind prophet who warns him that his actions do
not please the Gods visits Creon. Creon slowly realizes he may be wrong and in
an attempt to avoid the blind man’s prophesy, goes to bury Polynices, then visit
Antigone. Upon entering the cave he finds Antigone dead and argues with his son.
Haemon, in a fit of passion tries to kill his father and finally kills himself.
We can see that the characters of Antigone are possessed by their emotions and
are unwilling to be reasonable. The characters are all justified in their
beliefs, but also have created injustices and are deserving of retribution. This
illustrates the prosocratic belief that some form of justice will always balance