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Antigone (The Oedipus Plays) | Quotes

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1.

My honours for the dead must last much longer than for those up here. I'll lie down there forever.


Antigone, Prologos

Antigone justifies her decision to disobey Creon by burying Polyneices's body. She claims that her allegiance and loyalty lie with her dead family, whom she will be reunited with in her own death. Therefore her actions while she's alive will have more weight and bearing after she is dead.

2.

I won't suffer anything as bad as a disgraceful death.


Antigone, Prologos

Antigone responds to Ismene's concerns that she will face punishment by death for disobeying Creon's orders. Antigone reassures Ismene that her death wouldn't be considered disgraceful or shameful because she is merely doing what she thinks is just—and what offers ultimate respect to the gods, whose laws have more clout than mere mortal laws.

3.

It's clear enough the spirit in this girl is passionate—her father was the same. She has no sense of compromise in times of trouble.


Chorus, Episode 2

The leader and the Chorus are comparing Antigone to her father, Oedipus. Oedipus was also known for being headstrong and passionate, though it ultimately wound him up in trouble—and dead. The Chorus seems to be suggesting here that Antigone may need to learn a lesson about compromise from her father's misfortune or pay a similar tragic price.

4.

Those who live without tasting evil have happy lives—for when the gods shake a house to its foundations, then inevitable disasters strike, falling upon whole families.


Chorus, Stasimon 2

In this stasimon the leader and the Chorus observe that when the gods begin to intervene in the lives of mortals, the repercussions can last for generations—just look at Oedipus's family. The actions of one individual can reverberate down through generations of a family, with each new generation living out the fate of their ancestors' decision.

5.

So spit this girl out—she's your enemy. Let her marry someone else in Hades.


Creon, Episode 3

Creon is telling Haemon not to get hung up on Antigone—that by disobeying Creon she has made herself an enemy of their family. His reference to Hades points to the fact that according to the punishment Creon has dictated, she'll soon be dead.

6.

A man who thinks that only he is wise, that he can speak and think like no one else, when such men are exposed, then all can see their emptiness inside.


Haemon, Episode 3

Haemon tries to rationalize with Creon, gently warning him that if he doesn't take care he'll find himself exposed as someone who can't see all rational sides of a situation. Haemon is trying to point out Creon's arrogance in assuming that his way is the only way, and that it masks an insecurity that he is trying to keep hidden.

7.

No immortal god escapes from you, nor any man, who lives but for a day.


Chorus, Stasimon 3

The leader and the Chorus invoke Eros, the god of love. Even though Haemon was careful not to bring his love of Antigone into his argument with Creon, the Chorus notes here that love has the power to cause great discord and conflict, and that both men and gods are powerless over it.

8.

You pushed your daring to the limit, my child, and tripped against Justice's high altar—perhaps your agonies are paying back some compensation for your father.


Chorus, Episode 4

The leader and the Chorus caution Antigone against the hubris of comparing her fate to that of the goddess Niobe, and note that she has brought on her own fate by taking the decision to bury Polyneices into her own hands. Her "daring" means she will now have to reckon with whatever justice the gods choose to mete out. At the same time the Chorus leader wonders if in some way Antigone is being punished for the fateful errors of her father, Oedipus.

9.

Then know this—your luck is once more on Fate's razor edge.


Teiresias, Episode 5

Teiresias, the blind prophet, has come to Creon to warn him about how he has displeased the gods when he refused to bury Polyneices. Here he's telling Creon that there is still time to remedy the situation—but he'll have to act fast before his fate is sealed. Luck and fate seem to be at odds here, in that Creon's luck isn't determined by his own actions but by the gods, who he is at great risk of displeasing. Sophocles paints a vivid image with "Fate's razor edge," showing the thin, sharp, and possibly fatal line that Creon is at risk of falling on the wrong side of.

10.

Get me away from here, for now what I am in life is nothing.


Creon, Exodus

Creon utters this line after he has witnessed the suicide of his son and discovered that his wife died by the same fate. It dawns on Creon that without his family, he is nothing—a sharp fall from a once-assured leader of Thebes.

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