Theatre: Antigone

The lastnote  of the Theban trilogy of plays by Sophocles (preceded by Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus), Antigone follows the fate of one of Oedipus' daughters, born of his incestuous relationship with his mother.

The play starts with Antigone bringing her sister, Ismene, terrible news. Between the end of Oedipus at Colonus and the start of Antigone, their brother Polynices led an army against Eteocles for the right to inherit their father's throne. The brothers took each other's lives. This was chronicled in the play The Progeny; sadly, only a single exchange from that play survives. It can be read here. Antigone's uncle, Creon, now undisputed master of Thebes once more, has ordered that Polynices' body be left unburied, as a traitor. Antigone asks her sister to help her bury their brother properly, but Ismene refuses, and Antigone does it by herself.

Unfortunately, she is caught, and Creon orders her walled up in a cave to die. Despite warnings from both the Chorus and the seer Tiresias that leaving the dead unburied will have terrible consequences, it is not until Tiresias predicts that Creon's family will suffer and armies will march against Thebes that he relents. Unfortunately, he's too late, as the time spent burying the body prevented Creon reaching Antigone before she hanged herself. Seeing he was too late, Haemon, her fiancÚ and Creon's son, stabbed himself, and when THAT news reached his mother, Eurydice, she stabbed herself too. The play ends with Creon leaving the stage a broken man.

Also the name of a 1944 existential play by French playwright Jean Anouilh which covers the same events as the play by Sophocles, with a much more modern bent.

The original play contains examples of:

The Anouilh play contains examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew: The 1944 version, although it's meant to fit in any place and time, mentions cigarettes, long trousers, jackets, movies, guns, sports cars, nightclubs, gangsters and evening clothes.
  • Fatal Flaw: Antigone's complete unwillingness to bend even in the face of reason.
  • Greek Chorus: The Chorus in this version is unique in that it is not the "voice of the elders of the city" as it would have been (and was) in the original play, but is instead something like a meta narrator who points out the inherent flaws and hypocrisy of the characters within the play
  • Tomboy: Antigone in this version of the play in contrast with her sister who is the traditional "feminine" character.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Antigone is insistent throughout the play that this is the real reason she fights so hard to die, because both she and Creon have "roles" to play.