Paper Topics on Sophocles, Antigone

1. Antigone and Creon have strikingly different conceptions of the moral and religious obligations appropriate to citizens of Thebes. Are these two conceptions necessarily in conflict, if not in the situation described in the play, then in other plausible human situations? If not, why not? If so, how can people who hold such different views avoid the kind of tragedy portrayed in Antigone?

2. One interpreter of Antigone has reached this conclusion about the play: “The conflict between Antigone and Creon leads to tragic conclusions, not because of their different religious and moral views, but because of the extreme and rigid way in which they both hold their views. And Antigone and Creon are rigid and extreme because of certain features of their own character or familial and political situation. Sophocles aims to teach us that we can escape tragedy only by embracing moderation. To embrace moderation, however, requires us to understand not just what our deepest principles are, but why we hold them.” Do you find this interpretation of the play plausible? Why or why not?

3. The famous speech by the chorus in lines 375 to 416 of Antigone suggests some the connection between the recognition that we will all die and the likelihood that we will act humanely. What is that connection? Does it help explain how and why either Antigone or Creon fail to act humanely? 


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