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Antigone (The Theban Plays, #3)
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Four Greek Plays - Spine 2016 > Discussion Four - Antigone by Sophocles

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim | 3056 comments Mod
This discussion covers Antigone by Sophocles


message 2: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 43 comments Where exactly does "Antigone" come in the Oedipus cycle? Two things, actually; in what order did Sophocles write the plays, and in what place is in the Oedipus myth?


message 3: by Sylvie (new)

Sylvie | 29 comments Elizabeth wrote: "Where exactly does "Antigone" come in the Oedipus cycle? Two things, actually; in what order did Sophocles write the plays, and in what place is in the Oedipus myth?"

For what it's worth, I'm reading "The Theban Plays" by Sophocles in Penguin Classics. I intended to read Antigone, which is the third play, but felt I needed to read "King Oedipus" and "Oedipus at Colonus" first in order to know Antigone better. Oedipus is so like King Lear, half-demented, reaching out in his blindness and grief:

"Drown me in the depths of the sea!
Take me! (THE CHORUS shrink from his groping hands.)"

This is what I have gleaned from the introduction - it casts light on the format of the plays::
Tragedies were presented at certain festivals, the main and largest one being in Spring. They were attended by thousands, from far and wide, went on for several successive days, The plays came first before a selection board, then if chosen, became part of lengthy performances, Each dramatist had to present three tragedies, and then a satyr-play for entertainment. It was a competition and by the sounds of it, very tough going. A lot of pomp and splendour as well as religious ritual was associated with the plays.


message 4: by Sylvie (new)

Sylvie | 29 comments Further to Elizabeth's question, it appears that the plays were not written or produced in narrative order. Probable dates are: Antigone 442-441 BC, King Oedipus 429-430 BC, Oedipus at Colonus 401 produced after the poet's death.
The order may not have been important, as the story was well-known. What was of interest were the passions, the underlying principles that governed the characters' lives, the internal struggles they faced, the arguments about guilt, duty, and the forces against which they had to fight. Above all, the overall humbling view that fate was at the heart of any outcome. This is firmly rooted in other cultures. I was reminded of the similarity between Eodipus's story and the story of the appointment in Samarra. In each case, the protagonist has travelled to a different place in order to escape tragedy, not realizing that his destination is exactly the one where he is to come face to face with his fate.


message 5: by Lorelei (new)

Lorelei (lorelei999) | 6 comments One of the things I find interesting about the Greeks and their sense of fate was how that informed their sense of ethics. Oedipus must suffer the consequences for sleeping with his mother, etc., even if he did not know that's what he was doing. This is very different from how we view ethics today where we tend to believe that a person is not really responsible for the consequences of an action where s/he did not know any better.


message 6: by Sylvie (last edited Feb 27, 2016 02:29PM) (new)

Sylvie | 29 comments Lorri wrote: "One of the things I find interesting about the Greeks and their sense of fate was how that informed their sense of ethics. Oedipus must suffer the consequences for sleeping with his mother, etc., e..."

These plays were so advanced in dramatising these ethical dilemmas, weren't they? It is briliiant the way Sophocles does it. Oedipus realises the enormity of his crimes, insists on getting firm evidence from the shepherd even though it is against his interests, and then after much grief, he progresses to thinking that he was powerless and could not have foreseen what was to happen. In Oedipus at Colonus, even the chorus urges Theseus: "Our guest is innocent, sir, though cursed by fortune.
We cannot withhold our aid."

Fate is also against Antigone. Creon has a change of heart, he realizes that he was wrong to deny her a proper burial for her brother, but it's too late.

You can imagine the spectators involving themselves in the principles that move the characters, and in the shifts in perspective as the drama unfolded.


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