Summary and Analysis: Antigone Lines 117-178



The chorus of elders enters, chanting a song celebrating the recent Theban victory.


The Chorus recreates in imagery the bloody battle to take Thebes. Polynices, the invader at the head of the legendary seven against Thebes, emerges as an eagle — bold, terrifying, and bloodthirsty. Against such a horrendous enemy, the ode implies, any measures are justified, even, perhaps, the most recent order to leave his body unburied.

Thebes itself takes little credit for the victory. Instead, the force from Argos flees the city, according to the chorus, whipped by "the bridle of fate" (124) and blasted by Zeus himself, rather than the efforts of the Theban army. The punishment of the invader, then, must be the direct will of the gods, not of men. Even nature itself seems to herald the victory, as the rising sun represents the return of truth and order to the city. Thebes, blessed by the gods, indulges itself in self-righteous satisfaction, certain of its moral standing.

In the midst of victory, the elders soberly note one exception — the deaths of Eteocles and Polynices, who killed one another, as predicted by their father, Oedipus. Their "common prize of death" (163) leaves the city without a ruler descended from Oedipus. As the chanting ends, the elders look to Creon for a new beginning.


Dirce a river of Thebes.

Dionysus the god of wine and revelry.