Sophocles I: Questions Sophocles Royal

Question

Haemon is in an impossible position. Although it could be argued that Antigone is in an impossible position as well, forced to choose between obeying the will of the gods or the will of man, Haemon must choose between loyalty to his proposed wife and his father as the king of the state. His temperament is such that he is an innate compromiser. He is forced to negotiate between two people who do not believe in compromise, upon any terms.

Creon has begun a horrible chain of events. The Theban king has attempted to supplant the will of the gods, refusing to let Polynices soul enter the underworld and be judged by the gods, thus taking on the role of the gods as judgers of mens souls as well as a judge of his citizens actions on earth. By refusing to obey the kings orders and defy the gods, Antigone cannot act other than how she does as a pious sister.

Unless Haemon can persuade his father to go back on his word (which will make Creon look weak as a king) he is also in a damned situation, with no choices at all. Haemon does the best that he can, attempting to persuade Creon of the error of his ways, but given that his unreasonable father is head of the state there is only so much he can do to alter the law of the land. Haemon is hardly a cry baby but is full of grief over Antigones inevitable death and her impossible situation and her connection to her condemned family. Haemon is also grieved to see the moral folly of his father as king, a man he can never show respect to again, after Creon has effectively murdered Haemons betrothed. Haemon also becomes an unwitting instrument of revenge of the gods upon Creon, even though Haemon has done nothing wrong, as his suicide grieves Creon and prompts Creons wife to commit suicide.

Question IV

Prophesy was an integral part of the Greek religion and belief in fate. To some extent, to ask if the events and the fates of the protagonists in “Oedipus Rex” and “Antigone” would have unraveled as they did, had there been no prophesies, is an impossible question, because Greek notions of fate, prophesy, hubris, and the need to bend to the will of the gods are all interconnected. A Greek would respond to this question that it does not matter if the prophesy would have come true as it did, had no one consulted the oracle. Regardless of what occurred, what was determined to happen would happen, according to the will of the gods, and the fate of Oedipus indicates that this is the case under all foreseeable circumstances. Clearly, the gods understood that Oedipus and his father would act as they did.

Question IIV

Antigone acts as she ought thus she wins some klaos or merit for her actions in burying her brother. However, because of the fact that she must defy mortal law, she also cannot, in her imperfect circumstances, achieve the ultimate degree of Ar te, or obedience, given that she must be defiant of the will of other mortals whom she should show respect to, like the king. Although this is not her fault, achieving a state of Ar te is dependent upon circumstances as well as the moral character of the individual. She is pure and true, but not always honorable, as evidenced in her actions towards her sister (perhaps the one time in which she seems to do wrong in terms of her harshness, although she cannot lie and allow her sister to suffer — this would not show Ar te either). Poor Antigone is placed in an inherently dishonorable and intolerable situation..

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