Sophocles’ Antigone

41ciiLr+CML._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_“A man, though wise, should never be ashamed of learning more, and must unbend his mind.”

― Sophocles, Antigone

 Across time, this play from the height of the culture of Ancient Greece has engaged our questions around the desires of the individual against the coherence of the community. Although modern audiences tend to sympathise fully with Antigone, it is important to remember,as Bernard Knox explains in his introduction to our edition, that “…before (Creon) is driven by the consequences of Antigone’s defiance to reveal his true and deepest motives, he represents a viewpoint few Greeks would have challenged: that in times of crisis, the supreme loyalty of the citizen is to the state…” This essential query of the needs of the individual or the bonds of the family up against the rule of law or state structure is relevant in our contemporary experience as we try to find room for individual conscience in a world increasingly dictated by faceless agency.  As with all Salon studies, our approach is both thematic and language-based as we work to discover meaning and relevance together.


  • One-meeting intensive study
  • Recommended edition:The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles, translated by Robert Fagles,introduction by Bernard Knox; Penguin Books. ISBN-13: 978-0140444254

Here are some further thoughts on the work situated in a modern context:

Like all great Greek tragedies, Antigone presents us with existential questions similar to those addressed by Socrates and Jesus. In the choral ode to man, human existence is characterized as wondrous, riddle-like, uncanny. Human beings are natural and rational at once, bound by necessity yet gifted with freedom, mortal yet capable of transcending the mere necessities of life and survival, the doers of good and evil, makers and breakers of laws and city walls. Although the story of Antigone addresses these universal and timeless contradictions and perplexi- ties of humankind, it simultaneously tells the story of a singular individual: Antigone, a woman who defies King Creon’s edict without any fear, doubts, or regrets. This courageous woman, the fruit of incest, has fascinated philosophers in the nineteenth century, inspired playwrights in the twentieth century, and intrigued feminist thinkers and activists for decades.
—   from the introduction to Feminist Readings of Antigone (© 2010 State University of New York Press, Albany)

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Posted on

January 12, 2018