Essay on Does Antigone Deserve To Be Punished?

742 Words Oct 29th, 2012 3 Pages
Xiaoqing Shi
Dr. Henry Bayerle
Classics 102Q 25 November 2011
Does Antigone Deserve to Be Punished? Antigone has been acclaimed as a model that challenges authority and insists on just acts. However, according to Aristotle, a tragedy requires a man’s harmartia, which means error. Therefore, as a main character of a great tragedy, Antigone must possess flaws. Antigone’s self-certainty is one of her mistakes that contribute to her tragic fate. She regards burying dead people as absolute just behavior under any circumstance. This rite is important in Ancient Greek culture, but weather or not gods desire appropriate arrangement of Polyneices’ body is under question. It is Zeus that brings death to Polyneices because
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The conditionality of burying the dead shows that gods’ law is less sacred for Antigone than she claims to be. Neither does she care about her living families. She humiliates Ismene publicly, causing Creon’s death indirectly and set her uncle Creon in a dilemma where he needs to punish his daughter-in-law. Her real incentive is individual reputation, for she excludes Ismene from standing by her and asks Ismene to spread the news about her defiant act. She seems to use religion and family as elegant reasons to achieve honor. On the contrary, Creon, as a king, weights the interest of the overall state more than his own family. After experiencing the civil war caused by Polyneices, he understands the great need of the polis for order and thus enacts harsh laws to punish people causing riots. Unanimous obedience to law would also encourage his people to fight bravely in the war by being “loyal and dauntless at his comrades’s side”. Creon has to retain the validity and effectiveness of the law, because if every citizen can pursue any personal interest without fear for grave consequences, the entire social operation mechanism would break down. Punishing Antigone is necessary to retain the order of the polis. If we assume that Antigone’s action is absolutely just, her strategy to execute justice still lacks insight. She isolates herself by rejecting Ismene’s companionship. Nor does she mention her fiancé Haemon in the play. Her