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Antigone is the daughter of Oedipus who martyrs herself for her brother’s honor when her uncle Creon refuses to bury him and sentences her to death for trying.

Antigone is best known from the play Antigone by Sophocles. After Oedipus discovered that the oracle of him killing his father and marrying his mother came true, Queen Jocasta killed herself. Oedipus took two pins from her dressing gown and gouged his own eyes out. Fleeing the city of Thebes, Antigone, Ismene, and Oedipus wandered until Oedipus died in Athens. Antigone and Ismene returned to Thebes to find that their brothers had fought a bloody civil war over who would take the throne, and both brothers are dead.

Their uncle Creon and his wife Eurydice had taken over the city. Creon declared that Eteocles would be buried with full military honors, but Polynices was a traitor and would not be allowed a burial. In ancient Greek culture, if a body was not buried or burned, the soul could not move on to the afterlife. Antigone pleaded with her uncle to no avail, so she went under the cover of night and sprinkled a thin layer of dirt over her brother’s body.

When Creon found out that Antigone defied his edict, he ordered her to be buried alive in a cave. His son and Antigone’s fiancé, Haemon, eventually strongly disagreed with his father’s actions and sided with Antigone. The blind prophet, Tiresias, arrived in Thebes and warned Creon that Antigone could not be imprisoned under the ground and Polynices must be buried, or a great curse would befall the city from the gods, and from all of Greece. Creon finally agreed to bury Polynices and release Antigone, but then he received word from Haemon that Antigone hanged herself in the cave. Haemon tried to stab his father but failed, so he stabbed himself. When Eurydice heard the news of her son’s death, she killed herself. Creon was left with nothing.

Antigone Quick Reference


King Oedipus and Queen Jocasta

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