Sophocles' Antigone and Bill Clinton
Length: 1324 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)
Antigone and Bill Clinton
Antigone, in Greek legend, was the daughter of Oedipus. When her brothers Eteocles and Polynices killed one another, Creon, king of Thebes, forbade the rebel Polynices’ burial. Antigone disobeyed him, performed the rites, and was condemned to death for what she had done.
Now the question arises, "Did Antigone take proper action?". Was it just to go against her Uncle Creon’s wishes and go ahead and bury the brother that was to be left out for the vultures? Would it be better to leave the situation how they are? Could she go on about life trying not to think of how she left her own blood out in the open? Could Antigone act as if she did not care?
Afterlife to the Greeks back then was far more important and sacred than living life itself. Everything they did while they were alive was to please the many gods they worshipped. They built temples for their Gods, made statues to symbolize their Gods, and had a different God to explain things that we now say are an act of mother nature. It may seem rather foolish to us when we study their beliefs and compare them to modern day beliefs. I am sure the Greeks would have considered us to be heathens and put us to death for our ways and beliefs.
I think Antigone thought her act was courageous and valid. I myself would not have risked my life to ensure a proper burial for anyone, whether it was in modern times or back then. To go against authority and break the laws given by the monarch was a plain senseless act. When someone is dead we now know there is nothing else anyone or anything can do for them at that point. It is too bad the Greeks did not believe that. As I stated before, afterlife to the Greeks was more important than living life itself. The Greeks seemed to spend most if not all of their lives preparing in some way for their afterlives. The lives they led back then were consecutive to please the Gods. I feel that she deserved her punishment because of the fact that she knew what fate was to come of her actions. Just because Antigone thought she was doing the right thing does not mean it was right.
Many criminals believe they are doing the right thing at the time of their actions, some do even after they are facing the punishment. The fact of the matter is the law has to be obeyed or consequences will be faced.
I do understand her point of view and her values from careful reading of her character. Afterlife was so important to the Greeks back then that she was willing to give up anything to ensure her brother’s happiness and "future" after his death. It shows support in the play by the way she is so outspoken about what she had done after she is caught and while she is being questioned. "Why should I be ashamed of my loyalty to my brother?", Antigone states. Creon didn’t like her speaking in the manner such as this because it shows him that she has no remorse for disobeying his orders. Antigone states, when talking with Creon, that the gods would be unhappy about her brother being left there to die. I do not think that even if there were many gods that they would reject someone’s soul because of the way they were or were not buried. Creon states that the gods would be unhappy if a traitor to their country and land were to be buried. Someone that was a traitor to the Gods land would not be admired and even the gods would agree that the person should be punished. Creon should have been taken as the one that is right on this argument because kings were the lawgivers and thought to be god-like. Kings were just human beings regardless of what they thought they were and they too made mistakes on judgment calls but still the people have to obey, respect, and stand by their kings because they are the almighty lawgivers of the land whether the people like it or not. The same type of thing goes on in today’s government with our president. If we are not fond of him , which many are not, that does not give us the right to ignore his laws or the laws of this country.
By the way she treats her sister in the very beginning for not wanting to be an active and willing participant in their brother’s burial, one can tell she is definitely a strong-willed individual ready to stand up for what she believes in at all costs. Even when her sister says she will help but wants to remain a silent partner, Antigone refuses to let her help because she wants to be known for what she has done. Ismene seems to have a change of heart when she is brought to the king. She sees that Antigone is caught and decides to take part of the blame for what has happened but Antigone will not let her. Ismene acted courageously and in much the same way Antigone did, at least out of the same kind of love for her siblings. Ismene was willing to risk her life to take some of the blame off her sister and with her change of heart came some kind of guilt for having done nothing to help her brother. At least Ismene had the common sense enough to know not to break laws and go boasting about it. The fact is laws are made for a reason, be it good or bad. Even if we think now that the laws back then are far-fetched, they are the laws made to fit the times and should not be broken. The law may seem to be unjust to us in today’s society but that does not give anyone the right to create their own laws to live by. Which is why I have to keep my viewpoint that Antigone deserved her penalty because she knew what she was in for if she continued with her plan of burying her brother.
Creon was also faced with a hard decision. He had to try please his people, even though he wasn’t doing an effective job, yet hurt one of his family members by punishing her for her wrongdoing, much like what’s going on in modern day life with the election. Bill Clinton has to please his people, especially now while he is campaigning for votes, yet he is faced with the dilemma of having to pardon his wife Hilary for her involvement of the Whitewater scandal, if she is indeed convicted. In a sense Mr. Clinton is punishing his wife in an indirect way if he does not pardon her. Going against family is the hardest thing to do for many people. While speaking with Antigone, Creon seemed to become flustered by the fact that she was speaking to him with such strong emotion, bordering on disrespect according to him. Back then women did not have any more rights than the slaves did and to be talked to in such a powerful way by a woman was just unheard of, especially to a ruler. That, I believe, made Creon even more angry with Antigone that I am sure erased any doubt from his mind that punishing her so severely might not be a good idea. Creon also felt betrayed by the fact that he took Ismene into his home and cared for her only to be paid back by her lying to him and trying to protect her sister. Being put in the position to punish his niece would have caused him unneeded stress in a time when the land was stricken with such despair that would have made him all the more disgusted with Antigone.