The Oedipus Trilogy By Sophocles Summary and Analysis: Antigone Lines 1035-1089

Summary

The elders chant an ode about heroes and heroines who endured terrible punishments at the hands of Fate.

Analysis

After finding fault with Antigone for comparing herself to the gods, the elders choose their own legendary figures to compare to Antigone. Danae's cruel imprisonment in a tower mirrors Antigone's fate, and the penetration of Zeus into Danae's chamber looks forward to Haemon's appearance in the tomb. Note that the chorus chooses the mortal Danae to compare with Antigone, rather than the goddess Niobe, as Antigone has done in her lament. As witnesses to the whole sad tale of Oedipus' family, the chorus feels great sympathy for Antigone, but they must stop short of comparing her to the gods. Their responsibility as elders demands that they not glorify someone who is breaking the law.

At the same time, the chorus cannot fully support Creon in his judgment of Antigone. As a warning, then, the chorus switches to another tale, the story of Lycurgus, the king who offended Dionysus by persecuting the god's women worshippers. In championing the laws of the gods, the persecuted women resemble Antigone, and Lycurgus recalls Creon. For his crimes against Dionysus, Lycurgus suffered imprisonment. His punishment foreshadows Creon's fate at the end of the play.

Glossary

Danae the mother of Perseus by Zeus, who visits her in the form of a shower of gold.

Lycurgus real or legendary Spartan lawgiver of about the ninth century B.C. Here, the persecutor of the women who worshipped Dionysus.

Muses the nine goddesses who preside over literature and the arts and sciences: Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, Urania, and Thalia.

Thrace wild region to the north of Thebes.

Ares the god of war, the son of Zeus and Hera.

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