Greek Justice In Antigone

Greek Justice In Antigone In many respects, Sophocles explains the meaning of Greek justice in Antigone. On the surface, we see Antigone as a conflict between divine law and man’s law. Antigone is the believer in divine law and Creon is the believer in man’s law. Sophocles could have suggested one character as morally superiority over the other. However, Sophocles shows us how justice is equally mitigated to Antigone and Creon. In presocratic Greece Justice will equally apply herself to both and favor no one.

While rulers demanded social justice from lawbreakers like Antigone, the Gods also demanded justice from the rulers like Creon. Justice equally applied herself to the poor and the mighty in presocratic Greece. Creon and Antigone are the main characters whose inability to listen to reason is their fatal flaw. Creon is a new leader and feels the need to assert his authority. This makes him willing to break divine law.

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Furthermore, Antigone’s zealot nature forces her to break man’s law. So we see the unwillingness to reason, corrupt the minds of people with the best of intentions. Justice will balance the right with wrong and equally apply herself to Creon and Antigone. Creon begins his rule as an honorable man (200-210). For the good of his country and all his countrymen, he will make an example of Antigone’s brother, Polynices. Polynices was a traitor to his country and tried to destroy it.

Antigone, steadfast in her religious beliefs is determined to bury her brother and defy the orders of Creon. We begin to get a glimpse of Creon’s inability to listen to reason when he meets the sentry. Creon accuses the sentry of conspiring to assist Antigone bury Polynice’s body (350-361). Creon’s accusations against the guard are unfounded, unreasonable and unjust. Creon also shows himself unwilling to compromise.

Creon’s traits are juxtaposed to Antigone’s inability to see her brother as a traitor and perhaps deserving of some punishment. Antigone is not interested in persuading Creon. She will bury her brother and she will not back down from her position. She does not try to persuade Creon. She is following the law of the God’s. Creon’s justice is of no consequence. We see the two character heads strong and continue to be inflexible.

Even Haemon, Creon’s son who expresses his concern that perhaps Antigone is justified in burying her brother cannot persuade Creon. In addition, Haemon states that perhaps Creon should temper his laws with compassion and let Antigone bury her brother (784-820). Again we see Creon is unwilling to compromise any part of his position. Echoing Creon’s coming tragedy, Antigone in the cave laments her death and seems to see the error in her actions (913-923). All the characters are in motion to meet their own form of justice.

Antigone hangs herself shortly before Haemon enters the cave where she is kept. A blind prophet who warns him that his actions do not please the Gods visits Creon. Creon slowly realizes he may be wrong and in an attempt to avoid the blind man’s prophesy, goes to bury Polynices, then visit Antigone. Upon entering the cave he finds Antigone dead and argues with his son. Haemon, in a fit of passion tries to kill his father and finally kills himself.

We can see that the characters of Antigone are possessed by their emotions and are unwilling to be reasonable. The characters are all justified in their beliefs, but also have created injustices and are deserving of retribution. This illustrates the prosocratic belief that some form of justice will always balance an injustice.


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