I. Lineage and Relationships

Antigone's Family Tree

Antigone, along with two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, and her sister Ismene, is a child of Oedipus Rex of Thebes and his wife (and mother) Jocasta, meaning that Antigone is both granddaughter and daughter to Jocasta. She is also the granddaughter of King Lauis, Oedipus' father and Jocasta's original husband. In some versions of the story, she has a lover named Haemon, son of King Creon of Thebes, who was also Jocasta's brother.

II. Character Profile


Antigone is described generally as a good-natured and kind-hearted individual in all her interpretations. As a very loyal, obedient and caring daughter, she, together with Ismene, guided her father after he stabbed his eyes out as punishment for fulfilling the Oracle’s prophecy, accompanying him on his exile. She was also depicted as a heroic and defiant woman who stood against prejudice and would even outright defy authority when injustice was being committed, even at the cost of her own life. When she chose to dig her brother’s grave herself, she showed how selfless she was by sacrificing her reputation in the eyes of the public to make sure her brother had a proper burial.

Though her physical appearance wasn’t detailed, based on various paintings, it is safe to say that she was extraordinarily beautiful, like most Greek heroines.

Antigone, guiding her blinded father Oedipus
Antigone, guiding her blinded father Oedipus
Oedipus Rex

Antigone’s role in her father’s tragedy is minimal, as her tale is told in one of Sophocles’ two other Theban plays, where she is the eponymous character. Within these pages, she is one of the children born from the unintended union between King Oedipus and his mother Jocasta, and upon their birth, the Oracle of Delphi’s prophecy that Oedipus was destined to kill his father and his mother was fulfilled and later revealed.

IV. Mythology

Cover of Sophocles' Antigone, depicting Antigone's burial of Polynices
Cover of Sophocles' Antigone, depicting Antigone's burial of Polynices

Though living in her father’s shadow for the first two Theban plays, she became a heroine in her own right with a great Greek legend of her own.

After years of serving as her blinded father's guide during his self-imposed exile in Colonus, Oedipus finally perished, and with their duty fulfilled, she returned to Thebes, only to find that a war for the throne(AKA Seven Against Thebes) had broken out between her brothers, and that they had killed each other in the conflict. The king at that time, Creon, refused to bury Polynices as he was seen as a rebel and traitor against the city. Seeing this as a great injustice, Antigone buried her brother herself, and by doing this, was also deemed a traitor by Creon. She was condemned to be buried alive, but as one last act of defiance, hanged herself before her execution. Her lover and Creon's son, Haemon, killed himself out of despair after hearing his lover’s suicide. Creon's wife, Eurydice also committed suicide as she couldn't live with all the evil her husband had done.

V. Influences

Antigone's legend of defying Creon's death sentence by killing herself endures even in our world today. One lasting influence that it has is
George Steiner's Antigones: How the Antigone Legend Has Endured in Western Literature, Art, and Thought
George Steiner's Antigones: How the Antigone Legend Has Endured in Western Literature, Art, and Thought
her conflict against King Creon, according to George Steiner's
Antigones: How the Antigone Legend Has Endured in Western Literature, Art and Thought, clearly depicts the separation, conflict and tension between an individual and the state, between a man and a woman, and between young and old.

Another way that Antigone's legacy lives on is that it presented a very clear morality issue: whether conscience (Antigone's defiance for the sake of her brother) is above the law (Creon's decree that forbade the burial), and which of the two is the greater good.

With all the suicide and self-inflicted pain found within Antigone's tragedy, a point that was clearly emphasized that is still heatedly debated today is one concerning mortality; whether suicide is an acceptable death in particular situations, or how killing oneself may be the only way of escaping death by another and is one's sole method of molding their own destiny.

Also, due to her character being an extraordinarily strong woman, she is considered a symbol of feminism.

VI. Trivia

Cover of the 1961 Antigone film
Cover of the 1961 Antigone film

  • Antigone is the third and last in Sophocles' Theban plays, the other two being Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus
  • Antigone's name has two meanings: first, to mean "unbending" ("anti" meaning against, "gon"/"gony" meaning bend/angle); second, to mean "in place of a mother" ("gone" meaning progenitor/seed)
  • Since 1911, there have been 19 movie and TV adaptations of Antigone's life.

Uses for name:
Antigone (pronounced [[wiki/Wikipedia:IPA_for_English|/ænˈtɪɡəni/]]; Greek Ἀντιγόνη) is the name of two different women in Greek mythology. The name may be taken to mean "unbending", coming from "anti-" (against, opposed to) and "-gon / -gony" (corner, bend, angle; ex: polygon), but has also been suggested to mean "opposed to motherhood" or "in place of a mother" based from the root gonē, "that which generates" (related: gonos, "-gony"; seed, semen).[[#cite_note-0|[1]]]

VIII. Sources:

http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Anitgone http://www.theatrehistory.com/ancient/oedipus001.html https://eee.uci.edu/programs/humcore/images/Antigone/antigoneposter.jpg