“I didn’t say yes. I can say no to anything I say vile, and I don’t have to count the cost. But because you said yes, all that you can do, for all your crown and your trappings, and your guards—all that you can do is to have me killed.” -Antigone
Author Comments: This took me way longer than it should have…
Antigone, a play by the Greek playwright Sophacles, uses many (in fact, it uses all) of the archetypes commonly found in stories. These archetypes are: the tyrant, star-crossed lovers, wise man, martyr and tragic hero.
The tyrant, in this case, is Antigone’s uncle, Creon. He will not allow anyone to bury Polynices under any circumstance, and anyone who tries is to be killed. Even when Antigone buries Polynices and Creon is warned that in killing her, his son would die, he is only slightly wary; he still kills Antigone. Creon will not accept advice from anyone. Creon will not listen to his subjects either. He states “What, shall the mob dictate my policy? (line 745)” Creon is the perfect example of a tyrant; stubborn, arrogant, egotistical, and only cares about himself.
Haemon and Antigone are the star-crossed lovers. Haemon loved Antigone so much, that when Antigone died, he could not live without her, so he kills himself (after attempting to do the same to Creon and failing). He tried to convince Creon not to execute Antigone, and when Creon won’t listen, Haemon says “another man, too, might have some useful thought,” (line 783) encouraging Creon to listen to other people. Haemon told (well, implied to) Creon that he would kill himself if Antigone died, yet Creon still takes Antigone’s life.
Teiresias, the wise man, is blind and foretells the future. He knows that, in eliminating Antigone, Creon is causing his son to have the same fate. Teiresias knows this because he saw birds flying away, which signifies that the gods are not pleased. Creon initially says, ”I know your augurs skill, and by your arts long since I am tricked and sold. Yes, gain your gains, Get precious bronze from Sardis Indian gold…” ( accusing Teiresias of accepting a bribe. However, after hearing that Haemon will die, he remembers that Teirisias has never been wrong, and freon begins to get nervous.
The martyr and the tragic hero are the same per on is this play. Antigone is the martyr in that she dies because she believes Polynices must receive a proper burial, and she is a tragic hero because her death was also contributed to by a tragic flaw: loyalty. Antigone is so loyal to her family that she buries her brother knowing that the price of her crime is death. Antigone also does not let her sister share the punishment, saying “Save thou thyself. I grudge not thy escape.” (line 626)
While these archetypes are all very different people, in the end, all of them contribute to the outcome. Creon, of course, bans anyone from burying Polynices. Haemon dies as a “revenge” towards Creon, Teiresias helps Creon break through his stubbornness and realize his mistake (though only after it is too late) and Antigone buries Polynices, ensuring her fate of death, as well as the fate of Creon’s wife, Eurydice, Creon himself, and Haemon, who are all killed by their own hands.
I didn’t say yes. I can say no to anything I say vile, and I don’t have to count the cost. But because you said yes, all that you can do, for all your crown and your trappings, and your guards—all that you can do is to have me killed.
In Greek mythology, Polynices was the son of Oedipus and Jocasta. His wife was Argea. His father, Oedipus, was discovered to have killed his father and married his mother, and was expelled from Thebes, leaving his sons Eteocles and Polynices to rule. Because of a curse put on them by their father, Oedipus, the sons, Polynices and Eteocles, did not share the rule peacefully and died as a result by killing each other in a battle for the control of Thebes.
While Eteocles ruled Thebes, Polynices visited first king Theseus in Athens, then king Adrastus in Argos, where he married Argea, the king’s daughter, after he raped her. He enlisted Adrastus’ help in attacking Thebes. Polynices engendered the support of the prophet Amphiaraus by offering his wife Eriphyle the cursed necklace of Harmonia. The Seven Against Thebes then attacked Thebes, but were ultimately unsuccessful. During the attack on Thebes, Polynices and Eteocles engaged in single combat. Both brothers struck each other down.