Antigone Summary

Antigone Summary: Antigone begins with The two sons of Oedipus, Eteocles and Polyneices, who are fighting for the kingship of Thebes. Both men die in the battle. Their successor, Creon, decides that King Eteocles will be buried, but Polyneices, because he was leading a foreign army, will be left on the field of battle. Antigone, his sister, buries him anyway.

Antigone is caught burying Polyneices and is condemned to death. Her fiance and Creon’s son, Haemon, learns about this and tries to convince Creon to change his mind. It’s only then that the seer Tiresias appears. After a long discussion, he finally persuades Creon that the gods want Polyneices buried. By then it’s too late — Antigone has hung herself, Haemon kills himself when he finds her, and Creon’s wife kills herself when she learns about her son.

Antigone Summary

The Chorus introduces the players. Antigone is the girl who will rise up alone and die young. Haemon, Antigone’s dashing fiancé, chats with Ismene, her beautiful sister. Though one would have expected Haemon to go for Ismene, he inexplicably proposed to Antigone on the night of a ball. Creon is king of Thebes, bound to the duties of rule. Next to the sisters’ sits the Nurse and Queen Eurydice. Eurydice will knit until the time comes for her to go to her room and die. Finally three Guards play cards, indifferent to the tragedy before them.

The Chorus recounts the events leading to Antigone’s tragedy. Oedipus, Antigone and Ismene’s father, had two sons, Eteocles and Polynices. Upon Oedipus’ death, it was agreed that each would take the throne from one year to the next. After the first year, however, Eteocles, the elder, refused to step down. Polynices and six foreign princes marched on Thebes. All were defeated. The brothers killed each other in a duel, making Creon king. Creon ordered Eteocles buried in honor and left Polynices to rot on the pain of death.

The central conflict in Antigone is between the titular character and her uncle, Creon, the king. Antigone insists on burying her brother Polyneices, despite her uncle’s prohibition. Antigone’s reasoning is that the gods decree that mortals receive a death ritual; thus, her obedience is to a higher authority.

‘For you chose to live when I chose death’, Antigone says to Ismene, who was afraid to help her bury their brother. Antigone was ready for death, but for a death that would be inflicted on her by others, not for a death that she would inflict on herself. Why then did she kill herself?

Creon orders Antigone buried alive in a tomb. Although Creon has a change of heart and tries to release Antigone, he finds she has hanged herself. Creon’s son Haemon, who was in love with Antigone commits suicide with a knife, and his mother Queen Eurydice, also kills herself in despair over her son’s death.

Antigone Sophocles Summary

Antigone Sophocles Summary

It is dawn, and the house is still asleep. Antigone sneaks in and the Nurse appears and asks where she has been. Suddenly Ismene enters, also asking where Antigone has been. Antigone sends the Nurse away for coffee. Ismene declares that they cannot bury Polynices and that she must understand Creon’s intentions. Antigone refuses and bids Ismene to go back to bed. Suddenly Haemon enters and Antigone asks Haemon to hold her with all his strength. She tells him that she will never be able to marry him. Stupefied, Haemon departs. Ismene returns, terrified that Antigone will attempt to bury Polynices despite the daylight. Antigone reveals that she has already done so.

Later that day, the nervous First Guard enters and informs Creon that someone covered Polynices’s body with a little dirt last night. He orders the guards to uncover the body and keep the matter secret. The Chorus appears and announces that the tragedy is on. Its spring is wound, and it will uncoil by itself. Unlike melodrama, tragedy is clean, restful, and flawless. In tragedy, everything is inevitable, hopeless, and known. All are bound to their parts.

The Guards enter with the struggling Antigone. The First proposes that they throw a party. Creon appears, and the First explains that Antigone was found digging Polynices‘ grave by hand in broad daylight. Creon sends the guards out. Once he is certain no one saw Antigone arrested, he orders her to bed, telling her to say that she has been ill. Antigone replies that she will only go out again tonight. Creon asks if she thinks her being Oedipus’s daughter puts her above the law. Like Oedipus, her death must seem the “natural climax” to her life. Creon, on the other hand, devotes himself only to the order of the kingdom. Antigone’s marriage is worth more to Thebes than her death.

Antigone Scene 1 Summary

Polyneices and Eteocles, two brothers leading opposite sides in Thebes’ civil war, have both been killed in battle. Creon, the new ruler of Thebes, has declared that Eteocles will be honored and Polyneices disgraced. The rebel brother’s body will not be sanctified by holy rites, and will lay unburied to become the food of carrion animals. Antigone and Ismene are the sisters of the dead brothers, and they are now the last children of the ill-fated Oedipus. In the opening of the play, Antigone brings Ismene outside the city gates late at night for a secret meeting: Antigone wants to bury Polyneices’ body, in defiance of Creon’s edict. Ismene refuses to help her, fearing the death penalty, but she is unable to dissuade Antigone from going to do the deed by herself.

Creon enters, along with the Chorus of Theban Elders. He seeks their support in the days to come, and in particular wants them to back his edict regarding the disposal of Polyneices’ body. The Chorus of Elders pledges their support. A Sentry enters, fearfully reporting that the body has been buried. A furious Creon orders the Sentry to find the culprit or face death himself. The Sentry leaves, but after a short absence he returns, bringing Antigone with him. Creon questions her, and she does not deny what she has done. She argues unflinchingly with Creon about the morality of the edict and the morality of her actions. Creon grows angrier, and, thinking Ismene must have helped her, summons the girl. Ismene tries to confess falsely to the crime, wishing to die alongside her sister, but Antigone will have none of it. Creon orders that the two women be temporarily locked up.

Antigone Ode 1 Summary

Tiresias, the blind prophet, enters. Tiresias warns Creon that Polyneices should now be urgently buried because the gods are displeased, refusing to accept any sacrifices or prayers from Thebes. Creon accuses Tiresias of being corrupt. Tiresias responds that because of Creon’s mistakes, he will lose “a son of [his] own loins” for the crimes of leaving Polyneices unburied and putting Antigone into the earth (he does not say that Antigone should not be condemned to death, only that it is improper to keep a living body underneath the earth). All of Greece will despise Creon, and the sacrificial offerings of Thebes will not be accepted by the gods. The leader of the chorus, terrified, asks Creon to take Tiresias’ advice to free Antigone and bury Polyneices. Creon assents, leaving with a retinue of men. The chorus delivers a choral ode to the god Dionysus (god of wine and of the theater; this part is the offering to their patron god). A messenger enters to tell the leader of the chorus that Antigone has killed herself. Eurydice, Creon’s wife and Haemon’s mother, enters and asks the messenger to tell her everything. The messenger reports that Creon saw to the burial of Polyneices. When Creon arrived at Antigone’s cave, he found Haemon lamenting over Antigone, who had hanged herself. After unsuccessfully attempting to stab Creon, Haemon stabbed himself. Having listened to the messenger’s account, Eurydice disappears into the palace.

Creon enters, carrying Haemon’s body. He understands that his own actions have caused these events and blames himself. A second messenger arrives to tell Creon and the chorus that Eurydice has killed herself. With her last breath, she cursed her husband. Creon blames himself for everything that has happened, and, a broken man, he asks his servants to help him inside. The order he valued so much has been protected, and he is still the king, but he has acted against the gods and lost his children and his wife as a result. After Creon condemns himself, the leader of the chorus closes by saying that although the gods punish the proud, punishment brings wisdom.

Antigone Plot Summary

Antigone picks up in the same (uber-dismal) place that Oedipus at Colonus leaves off. Oedipus has just passed away in Colonus, and Antigone and her sister decide to return to Thebes with the intention of helping their brothers, Eteocles and Polyneices, avoid a prophecy that predicts they will kill each other in a battle for the throne of Thebes.

But upon her arrival in Thebes, Antigone learns that both of her brothers are dead. Eteocles has been given a proper burial, but Creon, Antigone’s uncle who has inherited the throne, has issued a royal edict banning the burial of Polyneices, who he believes was a traitor. Antigone defies the law, buries her brother, and is caught. When Creon locks her away in prison, she kills herself.

Meanwhile, not realizing Antigone has taken her own life, the blind prophet Teiresias, Creon’s son and Antigone’s fiancé Haemon, and the Chorus plead with Creon to release her. Creon finally relents, but in an instance of too-late-timing, finds her dead in her jail cell. Out of despair, Haemon and Creon’s wife have by now also killed themselves, and Creon is left in distress and sorrow.

Antigone Scene 2 Summary

Prior to the beginning of the play, brothers Eteocles and Polynices, leading opposite sides in Thebes’ civil war, died fighting each other for the throne. Creon, the new ruler of Thebes and brother of the former Queen Jocasta, has decided that Eteocles will be honored and Polyneices will be in public shame. The rebel brother’s body will not be sanctified by holy rites and will lie unburied on the battlefield, prey for carrion animals like worms and vultures, the harshest punishment at the time. Antigone and Ismene are the sisters of the dead Polyneices and Eteocles. In the opening of the play, Antigone brings Ismene outside the palace gates late at night for a secret meeting: Antigone wants to bury Polyneices’ body, in defiance of Creon’s edict. Ismene refuses to help her, not believing that it will actually be possible to bury their brother, who is under guard, but she is unable to stop Antigone from going to bury her brother herself.

Creon enters, along with the chorus of Theban elders. He seeks their support in the days to come and in particular, wants them to back his edict regarding the disposal of Polyneices’ body. The leader of the chorus pledges his support out of deference to Creon. A sentry enters, fearfully reporting that the body has been given funeral rites and a symbolic burial with a thin covering of earth, though no one sees who actually committed the crime. Creon, furious, orders the sentry to find the culprit or face death himself. The sentry leaves, and the chorus sings about honouring the gods, but after a short absence, he returns, bringing Antigone with him. The sentry explains that the watchmen uncovered Polyneices’ body and then caught Antigone as she did the funeral rituals. Creon questions her after sending the sentry away, and she does not deny what she has done. She argues unflinchingly with Creon about the immorality of the edict and the morality of her actions. Creon becomes furious, and seeing Ismene upset, thinks she must have known of Antigone’s plan. He summons her. Ismene tries to confess falsely to the crime, wishing to die alongside her sister, but Antigone will not have it. Creon orders that the two women be temporarily imprisoned.

Haemon, Creon’s son, enters to pledge allegiance to his father, even though he is engaged to Antigone. He initially seems willing to forsake Antigone, but when Haemon gently tries to persuade his father to spare Antigone, claiming that “under cover of darkness the city mourns for the girl”, the discussion deteriorates, and the two men are soon bitterly insulting each other. When Creon threatens to execute Antigone in front of his son, Haemon leaves, vowing never to see Creon again.

Creon decides to spare Ismene and to bury Antigone alive in a cave. By not killing her directly, he hopes to pay the minimal respects to the gods. She is brought out of the house, and this time, she is sorrowful instead of defiant. She expresses her regrets at not having married and dying for following the laws of the gods. She is taken away to her living tomb, with the Leader of the Chorus expressing great sorrow for what is going to happen to her.