A-Z: General definitions: Antigone


Daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta; she was put to death by Creon for ignoring his decree and burying her brother Polynices. With Oedipus in exile his two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, agreed to share the throne, ruling in alternate years. After the initial year, however, Eteocles refused to hand over. Polynices gathered an army of Greek champions, the 'Seven against Thebes', to lay siege to the city. During fighting at one of the gates, Eteocles and Polynices killed each other in single combat. Oedipus' brother Creon, now king of Thebes, allowed proper burial to Eteocles but decreed the death penalty for anyone trying to bury Polynices. Antigone, one of Oedipus's daughters, was left with the choice of obeying Creon's decree or following a higher loyalty to her dead brother. Although discouraged by the other sister, Ismene, she chose the latter course and managed to give Polynices a token burial before being discovered and arrested by Creon's guards. As punishment Antigone was immured in a cave where she committed suicide. See also: Underworld

Related Topics

Oedipus; Underworld
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