Essay on Antigone’s Judicial Hierarchy

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Antigone’s Judicial Hierarchy In Antigone, one of the most renowned Greek tragedies, Sophocles constructs a conflict that questions the very definition of justice. Considering a play based almost entirely on the acts of a single individual in clear defiance of a king’s decree, questions of right and wrong necessarily persist. It is difficult, however, for one to understand justice in deciphering the opinions of the two conflicting parties, Creon and Antigone, as these two clearly have opposing biased perspectives. It becomes prudent to examine the concept of justice in the eyes of the chorus, who has the necessary perspective to provide unbiased commentary in Antigone. Throughout Antigone, the chorus constructs a judicial hierarchy…show more content…
The chorus states, in lines 368-370 that “if [the leader] honors the laws of earth, and the justice of the gods he has confirmed by oath, high is his city.” It is imperative to understand that the prosperity of a city depends on the decisions made by the ruler in the eyes of the gods and, equally as importantly, on the manner in which the ruler’s subjects follow those laws. This truth is revealed to Antigone and the audience when the chorus scolds, “for him in authority, he cannot see that authority defied; it is your own self-willed temper that has destroyed you.” (ln.873-876). The chorus reiterates his conception of justice in a final speech at the end of the play, stating that “wisdom is far the chief element in happiness and, secondly, no irreverence toward the gods.” (ln.1348-1349). The chorus believes that a ruler’s wisdom in forming laws is primary in achieving the universal happiness of justice, but when this wisdom comes into conflict with the will of the gods, justice necessarily fails. In examining the first aspect of judicial hierarchy, we can begin to understand Antigone’s violation of law, and the consequences she faces in the eyes of her ruler. In reading this tragedy, one tends toward a general feeling of pity for Antigone and her desire to give her brother his proper burial rights. Antigone deserves no such pity. In the eyes of justice, she violated that which was right, acting unjustly. Creon

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