Antigone Symbols & Symbolism

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  • 0:04 Role of Symbols in 'Antigone'
  • 0:36 The Stone Tomb for Creon
  • 1:31 The Stone Tomb for the Gods
  • 2:30 Other Symbols
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
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 examine the symbols in 'Antigone.' We will particularly look at the symbol of the stone tomb and what it symbolizes for Creon and the gods.

Role of Symbols in ''Antigone''

Sophocles' ''Antigone'' is a story about a woman who puts her loyalties with the will of the gods instead of the king. However, the king, Creon, puts his loyalties with the kingdom and his own reasoning. In the end, the king's choice leaves him alone as his son and wife commit suicide.

The symbols in ''Antigone'' help us understand the path that led to Creon's tragedy. The main symbol is the stone tomb. Other symbols are money and the characters Creon, Antigone, and Teiresias.

The Stone Tomb for Creon

Creon refuses to bury Polyneices, but his sister, Antigone, buries him. Creon sets Antigone's punishment for burying Polyneices as being buried alive in a stone tomb. Creon uses this punishment to fit the crime as he sees fit.

Antigone makes it apparent that she is more loyal to her family, particularly her brother Polyneices, than to the king and the kingdom. She is more loyal to the dead rulers than to the living king. So she is buried alive and put with the dead, as a reminder that no one should be loyal to the dead, but instead should be loyal to the living.

Creon sees this as a reasonable punishment because Antigone has turned away from the living to the dead. So ''she shall be deprived of her sojourn in the light'' and with the living. For Creon, burying Antigone alive fits his reasoning, the reasoning of man, and is a perfect punishment.

The Stone Tomb for the Gods

For the gods, the stone tomb is a great dishonor, as it is a sin against Zeus to bury the living. Creon refused to honor the gods by properly burying Polyneices, and then turned around and dishonored them by burying Antigone alive. The prophet, Teiresias, tells Creon that ''from my offerings the Fire-god showed no flame. . . such was the failure of the rites. . . And 'tis thy counsel that hath brought this sickness on our State.''

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