As with my notes on Anouilh this is based on my reading of
Sophocles at a particular time.
1. lines 2-4 — Antigone and Ismene are doomed by Oedipus’s
2. lines 1-21: The charge against Creon and the challenge to Ismene
lines 22-32: The debate between Ismene and Antigone continues to
3. P. 3 lines 1-2
4. P. 3 lines 2-19: Ismene lays out the problem as she sees it and notes that
women are in an inferior position.
5. P. 3 lines 19-29: Antigone dismisses Ismene and declares her determination
6. P. 4 Ismene councils Antigone to keep the burial quiet, but Antigone insists
on broadcasting it. QUESTION: Does Antigone have the moral option of not
announcing her ploans? QUESTION: Do you think she really will give up ever even
if it seems impossible?
7. P. 5-7: QUESTION. What is the purpose of the section sung by the Thebans
Senators as the chorus?
8. P. 7-9: QUESTION: What is the purpose of Creon’s first long speech?
9. P. 9 bottom: The Senators confirm Creon’s supremacy in civil law
10. P.10-13: Creon’s conversation with the sentinel. QUESTION: Why does
Sophocles create the sentinel as he does? QUESTION: What rationale does Creon
appear to offer for his edict?
11. P.13-15: QUESTION: What is the chorus’s role at this juncture in the play?
What is their state of mind?
12. P. 15-17. The sentinel tells Creon his observations of Antigone carrying out
the burial rites.
13. P. 17 — Antigone’s last speech on the page (which continues to the upper
half of 18) lays out the crux of the matter — eternal divine law against Creon’s
14. P.18-19: Creon argues with Antigone including not only the issue of his law
but her exultation in the violation and the way she would reverse the proper
roles of man and woman.
15. P. 19: Antigone (mid-page) charges the senators with failing to say what
they think because of fear.
16. P. 20: Creon and Antigone exchange views about whether a traitor deserves
the rites. QUESTION: Could Creon be right that the patron gods of Thebes would
be offended that Polyneices attacked “their” city and would agree with Creon’s
edict? Or is Creon just rationalizing what he thinks?
17. P. 21: Antigone refuses to allow Ismene to claim any part in the deed: “A
friend in words is not a friend for me.” QUESTION: Is Antigone’s hard line with
Ismene morally correct? Should she count Ismene’s words unsaid?
18. P. 22: After charging Ismene as complicit with her sister, Creon reaffirms
the impropriety of their “gadding” about. QUESTION: To what extent do you think
Creon’s rage is focused on Antigone’s inappropriate walking around unescorted?
19. P. 23-24: The Chorus returns.
20. P. 25-28: The conversation between Haemon and Creon in which the former
tries to use reason to dissuade the latter, including references to the
unpopularity of Creon’s decision. QUESTION: Haemon seems to suggest that Creon
may be wrong in his decision in part because the people oppose him. If Sophocles
was writing in Athens in the 440s what might be the point he was trying to make?
21. P. 29: QUESTION: How does Creon propose to kill Antigone, and what is his
rationalization for this method?
22. P. 29-33: Antigone and the Chorus discuss her plight. QUESTION: Is the
chorus made up of the same people as at the beginning of the play?? QUESTION:
What is the purpose of this extended dialogue?
23. P. 33-35. Creon orders that Antigone be led away and on a long monologue she
provides a more nuanced view of her reasons for insisting on burying Polyneices.
“But sire and mother buried in the grave/ A brother is a branch that grows no
more.” QUESTION: What particular aspect of divine law is Antigone pointing to?
Why would she not act this way in the case of a spouse or a child?
24. P. 35-37. The chorus describes other instances of wrongful “burial” or
“entombment.” QUESTION: Why do they do this?
25. P. 37-41. Blind Teiresias enters to reveal to Creon the fact that he is
wrong. On page 40 he particularly lays out the fact that Creon has joined Life
with Death and will pay the price. He includes in his peroration the fact that
all people know that what Creon is doing is wrong. QUESTION: What is the
significance of having the Seer be blind?
26. P. 42-43. The Chorus returns.
27. P. 44-47. The Messenger tells Eurydice all that has happened including
Antigone’s suicide, Haemon’s attempt on his father and then his own suicide.
QUESTION. What do you make of the willingness of those involved to commit
28. P. 47-52. In this final exchange Creon takes upon himself the guilt for all
that has befallen, wishing for an early escape from his life of pain. The Chorus
concludes the play with a perhaps unusual message. QUESTION: What is it that the
choir seems to suggest in this final statement? Is man a complete victim?