Moral And Civil Law In Antigone By Sophocles

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Antigone by Sophocles is the third play in The Oedipus Cycle trilogy. Antigone is the daughter of the now deceased Oedipus. Creon has taken his place on the throne of Thebes and is struggling to be taken seriously in his new position. When Antigone’s two brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles, are killed in war, Creon gives Eteocles a proper burial because he was on the side of Thebes while Polyneices was on the opposing side. Antigone feels that it is not right for one brother to receive a burial and for the other to be ignored, so she goes against Creon’s civil law, obeys her moral law and gives Polyneices a proper burial. Moral and civil law are two contradicting forces in this play, and Creon and Antigone each play them out. Antigone is…show more content…
Moral law may also come from the gods, and it is a “higher law” that Antigone chooses to follow in the play rather than following the civil laws set by Creon. Once Creon states that Polyneices is not to be buried, Antigone tries to convince her sister Ismene to take the moral side of the law and bury the brother anyway. Antigone explains that “Creon buried our brother Eteocles/With military honors… as they search for food” (190). Ismene refuses to break the civil law with her sister who claims that defying the law shows that she truly loved her brother. She knows she could be punished for this, but Antigone isn’t the kind of person that cares what other people think. She proves with Ismene that her way is the right way and that all other laws or opinions are invalid, despite the consequences. Following moral law makes Antigone do the right thing, or what she believes to be right. When Creon finds out that she has disobeyed his law and gone with what she believes to be right, he has her sent away to die on her own accord. Antigone does not complain about her new fate, however. She says that she is willing to die and that “And yet, as men’s hearts know, I have done no wrong,/I have not sinned before God” (227) which means that she does not believe that her crime was unjust, but rather the opposite. While she is being carried away to meet her fate in the dark tomb of death…show more content…
Men like Creon, powerful and eager to show their strength, follow civil laws. Creon is the one who creates these laws because he is the mighty king of Thebes because of Oedipus’ death and banishment. When Polyneices and Eteocles kill each other in the war, Creon gives Eteocles a proper burial but leaves Polyneices out to be eaten by animals. He decrees that “You will give no support to whoever breaks the civil law” (198). Creon, as the creator of this civil law, decides the fate of those who cross it. In this case, he has chosen death by public stoning in the town square. If one sides with the civil law, one will not be harmed. However, by ignoring his moral law and having Antigone sent away to die and not burying Polyneices, his own family member, Creon suffers a horrible fate. Though he does not die like Antigone does for her failure to follow the civil law, Creon loses everything. Teiresias, the old and blind prophet, comes to Creon after he has sent Antigone away and tells him that “You are sick, Creon! You are deathly sick!” (233). He quickly leaves to find Antigone and release, her but she is dead when he arrives, as is his son. He claims that “Nothing you can say can touch me any more./My own blind heart has brought me/From darkness to final darkness” (242). He realizes that if he had followed his moral law and not sent Antigone away to die for doing what was right, she would not have lost her, his son, and he

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