Antigone - Antigone Night has fallen in Thebes The...

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Antigone Night has fallen in Thebes. The preceding days have borne witness to the armed struggle between Eteocles and Polynices , sons of Oedipus and brothers to Antigone and Ismene . The brothers, who were fighting for control of Thebes, have now died at each other’s hands. Polynices’ invading army has retreated, and Creon now rules the city. Antigone approaches an altar in the palace, bemoaning the death of her brothers. Ismene follows close behind, echoing Antigone’s sentiments. Antigone laments Creon’s recent decree that whoever tries to bury or mourn Polynices must be put to death. Although Ismene declares that the sisters lack any power in the situation, Antigone insists that she will bury Polynices, and asks for Ismene’s help. Ismene contends that though she loves Polynices, she must follow the king’s decree—she does not want to risk punishment by death. Antigone rejects Ismene’s arguments, saying that she holds honor and love higher than law and death. Antigone exits, still resolved to bury Polynices. Ismene declares that she will always love Antigone, and then withdraws into the palace. The Chorus , composed of the elders of Thebes, comes forward. It sings an ode praising the glory of Thebes and denouncing the proud Polynices, who nearly brought the city to ruin. Creon then enters, assuring the citizens that order and safety have returned to Thebes. He announces that Eteocles, who defended Thebes, will receive a hero’s burial, unlike his brother, who shall rot in godless shame for having raised arms against the city. The Chorus says that it will obey Creon’s edict. A sentry enters with a message for the king, but he hesitates to speak for fear of the king’s reaction. Creon orders him to tell his story, and he finally reports the scandalous news. Someone has given proper burial rites to Polynices’ corpse, and no one knows who has done it. Unsure what to do, the sentries assigned to keep watch over the grave finally resolve to tell the king. The Chorus suggests that the gods themselves may have undertaken Polynices’ burial, but Creon denounces this notion as absurd, arguing that the gods would never side with a traitor. He himself theorizes that dissidents in the city have bribed one of the sentries to defy his edict, and he accuses the present sentry of the crime. Refusing to listen to the sentry’s desperate denials, Creon threatens the sentry with death if no other suspect is found, and then enters the palace. The sentry declares his intention to leave Thebes forever, and flees.
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