Summary and Analysis: Antigone Lines 1238-1273



The elders rejoice at Creon's decision in a paean, or joyful song, to Dionysus.


The ecstasy of the chorus imitates the frenzy of Dionysian worship. Exultation wells up at this pivotal moment in the play, as Creon at last yields and seeks to repair the damage his pride has caused.

The paean echoes a similar moment in Oedipus the King, when the chorus wonders in awe whether Oedipus is actually the son of a god. As in Oedipus the King, the paean will yield in the following episode to tragic revelations, the end of the glorious hope celebrated by the chorus.

Note the mention of Eleusis and the Mysteries — a reference to the secret rites that offered a vision of eternal life to initiates. Sophocles refers to the Eleusian Mysteries throughout Oedipus at Colonus, foreshadowing the tragic hero's mystical passing. Here the reference offers hope for Antigone's recovery from her sealed tomb, just as the goddess Persephone escaped from the Underworld.


Semele the daughter of Cadmus and the mother of Dionysus.

Mysteries the Eleusian Mysteries, the secret religious rites celebrated at the ancient Greek city of Eleusis in honor of Demeter and Persephone.

Eleusis town in Greece, northwest of Athens; site of an ancient Greek city (also called Eleusis), seat of the Eleusian Mysteries.

Bacchus another name for Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry.

Ismenus a river of Thebes.

Castalia spring on Mount Parnassus, Greece; in ancient times it was sacred to the Muses and was considered a source of poetic inspiration to all who bathed in it.

Nysa a mountain on Euboa, an island that lies off the Attic and Boeotian coastlines.