Antigone Family Tree

Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson we will review the Sophocles play, ''Antigone'' in the context of the other two ''Oedipus'' plays. We will look at how the family tree has been affected by the background story, and how that has affected the rest of the family, including the title character.

Family Tree

Your family tree connects you to your parents, grandparents, and brothers and sisters. A vertical line refers to children while a horizontal line refers to a spouse. Typically, family trees are pretty self-explanatory. But the family tree of Antigone gets complicated, since Antigone's mother is also her grandmother!

The family tree is complicated: Jocasta is the grandmother of her own children, and their father is also their half-brother.
Antigone family tree

The Story

Antigone is a play written by Sophocles, somewhere around 441 BC. It is a tragedy and the third in a sequence within the three plays known as The Oedipus Plays.

This story starts out after Oedipus has died, and his twin sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, have fought over the throne and died in the process. Eteocles was buried with honors, but Polyneices is left to rot. Since the ancient Greeks believed that the soul cannot travel to the next life without being buried, this is an eternal punishment. So, Antigone begins with Antigone and her sister, Ismene, discussing what they can do for their brother.

The story continues with Antigone trying several times to bury her brother by hand. Meanwhile, Creon, Jocasta's brother, takes over as the ruler of Thebes. Antigone is caught and is to be punished for the crime of trying to bury her brother. Antigone then hangs herself, in order to seal with her blood the belief that her brother should not be eternally punished. The rest of the family, Antigone's sister Ismene, Creon's wife Eurydice, and Creon's son (as well as Antigone's fiancé), Haemon, also commit suicide, since they did not think that Antigone should be punished for trying to help her brother. So in the end Creon is all alone.

Background Story

In order to understand Antigone's family tree, we first need to look at the background story for the play. Antigone's grandfather is Laios, King of Thebes. He kidnapped a neighboring king's (Pelops) son. Pelops then curses Laios, saying that if he ever has a son that son will kill Laios and marry his mother (Jocasta). So when Jocasta has a son, Laios orders this son to be left in the mountains to freeze. Instead, this son is secretly taken to Corinth and raised by the king and queen there. This son is Oedipus. He is raised as the son of the king and queen there and does not even realize that they are not his real parents.

Many years later Oedipus unknowingly kills his father, Laios, along the road after Laios is rude to him. He then continues along his journey and destroys a sphinx that had been tormenting Thebes. As a reward, Oedipus is given Thebes as the kingdom (since the king has been killed) and Jocasta as a wife.

Many years after that, after having four children (Eteocles, Polyneices, Ismene and Antigone), Oedipus and Jocasta learn that Oedipus is actually Jocasta and Laios' son. In response, Jocasta kills herself and Oedipus pulls out his own eyes. Antigone cares for him but he dies shortly thereafter.

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