Greek Tragedy - Sophocles' Antigone Watch

happysmile
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"How important are the gods and fate in Sophocles' Antigone?"

For anyone who has read or studied Sophocles' Antigone: I have to write a 2,000 word essay on this title within the next week, and we're allowed to use other 'appropriate sources to support analysis and evaluation' - I have written around a page or so, but can anyone give some ideas and suggestions about what I can include, and does anyone here know of sources I could read? Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
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christudor
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Interesting question. Here are a couple of thoughts.

It's interesting to be asked about fate in relation to Antigone, as it's not really as big a deal in this play (as opposed to, say, Oedipus the King). I guess you could talk about the concept of the family curse, which (I believe) Creon mentions one or two times. (This is the idea that Antigone is fated to be a bit weird because she is the product of an incestuous marriage, and she has a rather weird extended family - the Labdacids).

There is lots to say about the gods in Sophocles. I really like the article by Robert Parker, which is called: 'Through a Glass Darkly: Sophocles and the Divine'. The view there is that the gods are conspicuously absent in Antigone. The human characters talk about them a lot, but we don't really get a first-hand view of what they're like, because they're never on stage.

Related to this is what happens in previous versions of the tragedy, in which Antigone is saved at the last minute by Dionysus (who goes on to marry her). When Antigone is being led to the cave in Sophocles' version of the play, she asks 'Where are the gods?'. Indeed, it's as if she's aware of the usual treatment of the myth, and is saying 'Hang on a second, isn't this the bit where Dionysus comes in and rescues me?'. In Sophocles, that moment never comes.
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happysmile
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(Original post by christudor)
Interesting question. Here are a couple of thoughts.

It's interesting to be asked about fate in relation to Antigone, as it's not really as big a deal in this play (as opposed to, say, Oedipus the King). I guess you could talk about the concept of the family curse, which (I believe) Creon mentions one or two times. (This is the idea that Antigone is fated to be a bit weird because she is the product of an incestuous marriage, and she has a rather weird extended family - the Labdacids).

There is lots to say about the gods in Sophocles. I really like the article by Robert Parker, which is called: 'Through a Glass Darkly: Sophocles and the Divine'. The view there is that the gods are conspicuously absent in gAntigone. The human characters talk about them a lot, but we don't really get a first-hand view of what they're like, because they're never on stage.

Related to this is what happens in previous versions of the tragedy, in which Antigone is saved at the last minute by Dionysus (who goes on to marry her). When Antigone is being led to the cave in Sophocles' version of the play, she asks 'Where are the gods?'. Indeed, it's as if she's aware of the usual treatment of the myth, and is saying 'Hang on a second, isn't this the bit where Dionysus comes in and rescues me?'. In Sophocles, that moment never comes.
Thank you!
Do you know where I can find the article 'Through a Glass Darkly...' you mentioned? I'd like to read it, but can't seem to find it...
I found this really helpful, especially the bit when you pointed out that the gods are conspicuously absent in Antigone - I've added that in my essay, but is there anything in Antigone that would suggest the gods are important, to an extent? (because that's what the essay title is)
Also, about fate, is there anything else I could talk about apart from the family curse?
Thanks in advance
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christudor
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(Original post by happysmile)
Thank you!
Do you know where I can find the article 'Through a Glass Darkly...' you mentioned? I'd like to read it, but can't seem to find it...
I found this really helpful, especially the bit when you pointed out that the gods are conspicuously absent in Antigone - I've added that in my essay, but is there anything in Antigone that would suggest the gods are important, to an extent? (because that's what the essay title is)
Also, about fate, is there anything else I could talk about apart from the family curse?
Thanks in advance
I believe the Parker article is found in a larger collection of essays on Sophocles called 'Sophocles Revisited: Essays presented to Hugh Lloyd-Jones', edited by Jasper Griffin. Don't think it's necessary to read it for a school(?) essay: just think about how little Sophocles tells us about what the gods are really thinking.

In Antigone, for example, you get a weird whirl-wind which kind of blows away the dust that Antigone has thrown on Polyneices' corpse. It's all a bit strange, but it is really the work of the gods? What you get lots more of in Antigone is people CLAIMING they know what the gods want - but what do they really know? (What do ANY of us know about the motivation/desires/will of the gods if all we have to go on are cryptic signs like strange whirlwinds and the like?)

On the importance of the gods, clearly the gods are important to the characters themselves since they mention them ALL the time. Read the play and you will see this. Whether the gods are ACTUALLY important or whether the characters are simply deluding themselves is harder to say. In the case of Antigone and Creon, at least one of them must be wrong about the gods because they are both claiming completely opposite things.

Don't forget the apparently religious nature of the tragic festival, which was dedicated to Dionysus. The theatre in Athens was called the Theatre of Dionysus and the major theatrical festival in the city was the Great Dionysia. However, there is a huge (and ongoing) scholarly debate as to how much Athenian tragedy has anything to do with cult practice.
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BluWacky
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This is the OCR Controlled Assessment title for Antigone this year. My pupils have all just written their essays on it... of course, happysmile, you're not asking the forum to write your coursework for you, are you...?
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Aurangzeb
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(Original post by happysmile)
"How important are the gods and fate in Sophocles' Antigone?"

For anyone who has read or studied Sophocles' Antigone: I have to write a 2,000 word essay on this title within the next week, and we're allowed to use other 'appropriate sources to support analysis and evaluation' - I have written around a page or so, but can anyone give some ideas and suggestions about what I can include, and does anyone here know of sources I could read? Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
In Sophocles' Ajax, Gods play a huge role. Athena, being the patron God of Odysseus, actually sends Ajax into a bout of madness, where he thinks he is slaying a huge swathe of the Greek army, and has Odysseus tied up in his tent. In actual fact, he had slaughtered a huge number of ox, and strung them up in his tent, thinking they were men! And so begins the story of Ajax's descent towards death.

Of course, there are a huge number of other instances of fate/god, but time does not permit.

Good Day

T
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theopyrus
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(Original post by happysmile)
"How important are the gods and fate in Sophocles' Antigone?"

For anyone who has read or studied Sophocles' Antigone: I have to write a 2,000 word essay on this title within the next week, and we're allowed to use other 'appropriate sources to support analysis and evaluation' - I have written around a page or so, but can anyone give some ideas and suggestions about what I can include, and does anyone here know of sources I could read? Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
As a previous post said, I would look closely to Creon’s speeches. He opposes to Antigone and his speeches represent the eloquence expected from a ruler, and many apothegms can be found there. At a certain point I think that he is the tragic character rather than Antigone as he is the one who triggered and suffered the fate.
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happysmile
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(Original post by BluWacky)
This is the OCR Controlled Assessment title for Antigone this year. My pupils have all just written their essays on it... of course, happysmile, you're not asking the forum to write your coursework for you, are you...?
From your post, I'm assuming you're a teacher - is the 'around 2000 words' supposed to be including or without quotes? I've gone over 2200 words - that's including all the quotes I used, is it too long? And no, I'm perfectly happy writing my own essay, I just need some starter points to get me thinking (our teacher basically told us to read the play ourselves, threw the title at us three weeks after getting the copy of the play, and told us 'now you have to write a 2000 word essay on this' So again, do you think I should just leave it at nearly 2300 words (including all quotes) or try and delete some points? Thanks
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BluWacky
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(Original post by happysmile)
From your post, I'm assuming you're a teacher - is the 'around 2000 words' supposed to be including or without quotes? I've gone over 2200 words - that's including all the quotes I used, is it too long? And no, I'm perfectly happy writing my own essay, I just need some starter points to get me thinking (our teacher basically told us to read the play ourselves, threw the title at us three weeks after getting the copy of the play, and told us 'now you have to write a 2000 word essay on this' So again, do you think I should just leave it at nearly 2300 words (including all quotes) or try and delete some points? Thanks
I didn't see your post sooner - apologies for not coming back to you and for being a bit rude. I suspect you've finished the essay now as the deadline for getting marks in to OCR was last Thursday.

It's 2000 words EXCLUDING quotes - I had to double check this myself and OCR's guidance is quite clear that primary source evidence doesn't count towards your word limit. I think you should try and delete points as there are marks available for keeping within the word limit - the mark scheme talks specifically about "succinct arguments" so try and cut down if you can to a maximum of 2,100.

I'm in two minds about this essay title myself. Is it a "list all the times fate and the gods are important" or "assess the importance of fate and the gods compared to other themes in the play" style essay? My pupils answered in a variety of ways, many with something interesting to say - we read the play through in class over the course of last term and they all came away with different reactions to it.
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