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Honor and Gender

Phoebe Ndoro
02:31 PM ET (US)
I felt that one of the most crucial questions that the play evoked is - 'was Oedipus guilty?'
One must consider that he did kill his father with his own hands and married his own mother thus committing blasphemy.
However we also need to consider that he did so unwittingly and furthermore Oedipus claims he killed in father in self-defence. But Oedipus' most compelling argument is that he was a slave to destiny - "my life was can you justly cast (sin) against me, who was still unborn when that decree (upon my life) was spoken" p.101
Evie Thibault
02:36 PM ET (US)
Like Karen, I did not see Antigone as overly private. I agree with her about Antigone's outspokenness and that she sacrificed herself to the benefit of the community. But I'm not sure she sacrificed herself for the community. In my reading, "private" applies more to the reasons Antigone does what she does and less to her personality. Antigone is motivated by familial love through both plays. She is devoted to Oedipus, and then finds another familial cause after his death. (It helps that Polynices asks her to pray for him after his death--her choice of causes is clear.) She "buries" Polynices for personal reasons, but through her actions, the community is saved from the wrath of the gods.

Her death, self-inflicted as it is, does not lend itself to a modern conception of martyrdom. I know I'm being anachronistic, throwing Christian concepts at the ancient world, but it does make me reconsider my definition of martyr. Later Christian asthetes will subject themselves to bodily deprivation to bring death sooner, but that is not technically suicide. Though without her suicide, Antigone would have been spared martyrdom...

One other observation, in this rambling mood. One of Antigone's lines in the play really caught my eye: "My way is to share my love, not share my hate." (p.140) Remind anybody of a particular savior? In the next line, Creon calls Antigone's attitude "woman's law." So maybe there was a concept of honor with and through love, instead of with and through vengence, but it was the feminine version. In which case, both Achilles and Antigone performed their functions as heroes/saviors/martyrs according to the dictates of their sex.
Karen Johanns
05:32 PM ET (US)
Our Fearless Leader asks:
"If Achilles is a hero-savior-god who dies for the well-being of the group, a sacrifice that gains him honor, how can Antigone be a martyr (as she is called literally in the text) when she is so private?"

As I was reading the play it never occurred to me that Antigone was "private." I saw her as fiercely outspoken, especially for a woman in antiquity. I found that Antigone sacrificed herself for not only for the honor of her family but the honor of the gods, who are insulted by Creon's refusal to provide burial for Polynices. She behaves with indignation towards her sister Ismene, whom she perceives as too weak to defy the king and too frightened to defend her family's honor. Her contempt for Creon and her sharp denunciation of him for dishonoring her brother and the gods is as public as Achilles' rage at Agammemnon, since she delivers her orations in front of the Chorus, who are also the Senators. Not even the act of sprinkling earth on her brother's body is particularly clandestine, since she performs the act with soldiers nearby.

Antigone sacrifice illustrates the conflict between the need for social order and the feeling that on occasion higher law may supersede human law.
Fearless Leader
10:03 PM ET (US)
Hi, class,

Write an observation, or respond to someone else's comment. You can also write a question and suggest a possible answer.

To get the ball rolling, someone might pose an answer to my question:

If Achilles is a hero-savior-god who dies for the well-being of the group, a sacrifice that gains him honor, how can Antigone be a martyr (as she is called literally in the text) when she is so private?
Carolina CamargoPerson was signed in when posted
09:28 PM ET (US)

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