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Homer, The Iliad
Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War
Sophocles, Antigone
Plato, The Republic
Virgil, The Aeneid


The Basics
Close and Critical Reading


Roger Dunkle
Donna Wilson
Hardy Hanson
John Van Sickle


CORC 1110 Study Guide
Perseus Project
Classics Resources
Greek Mythology Link
Glossary of Terms

Antigone by Sophocles

"For God hates utterly The bray of bragging tongues." Sophocles, Antigone

Sophocles' Life

Born in 495 B.C. about a mile northwest of Athens, Sophocles was the son of a wealthy merchant. He enjoyed the benefits of an aristocrat family and was able to study all of the arts. Because of his beauty and grace, he was chosen to lead a choir of boys. Every year there was a festival at the Theatre of Dionysus where new plays were presented. Sophocles took first prize the first time he presented there. He defeated none other than Aeschylus himself.

Sophocles wrote more than 120 plays, eighteen of which won first prizes. Never had any of his plays taken less than second place. Only seven of Sophocles' 120 plays survive in their entirety. Antigone, one of the surviving plays, is the about a young woman who refuses to follow the authority of her uncle who refuses to give her brother a proper burial.

Introduction to the Plot Summary:

Antigone is a withdrawn young woman who unlike her beautifully radiant sister Ismene, stands on her own. She is determined to properly bury her deceased brother Polynices, after an order by king Creon to let the body of Polynices rot. Antigone, her sister Ismene and two brothers Polynices and Eteocles are the children of Oedipus, the late king of Thebes. Before Oedipus' death, he decided that both Eteocles and Polynices would each take over the thrown. For a given amount of time, Eteocles, the elder brother, would take over the thrown and when that time has ended, he would then step down to let Polynices take over. However, Eteocles refused to step down at the end of his term. This infuriated Polynices and duel with the two brothers and their respective armies began. In the end, both brothers had ended up killing each other, making their uncle Creon the king of Thebes. Now Creon must deal with Antigone's attempt to disobey the law and bury her brother.

Main Characters of the Antigone

Oedipus - The protagonist of Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus.
Jocasta - Oedipus's wife and mother, and Creon's sister.
Antigone - Child of Oedipus and Jocasta, and therefore both Oedipus's daughter and his sister.
Creon - Oedipus's brother-in-law, King of Thebes and brother to the late king Oedipus.
Ismene - beautiful daughter of Oedipus. She is understanding of Antigone's acitons, but persuades her to do otherwise
Haemon - son of Creon and fiancÚ of Antigone.
The Chorus - The narrator and commentator of this tragedy. At times, represents the voice of the people of Thebes
The Guards (Jonas, Second Guard, and Third Guard - ready to serve their king by any means necessary
The Nurse - Represents the maternal figure for Antigone and Ismene, by caring for the two sisters.
Messenger - has a premonition about Haemon's death. He has a menacing presence.
Page - the attendant to Creon. Eurydice - wife of Creon who knits in her room.

Additional Resources for Antigone

Antigone Roger Dunkle, Study Guide

Sophocles' Antigone Perseus

Athenian Daily Life Roger Dunkle

Introduction to Greek Tragedy Roger Dunkle