71 pages 2 hours read



Fiction | Play | Adult | BCE

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Fate and Its Inescapability

Fate, and its inescapability is the primary theme of all three of Sophocles’ Theban plays. All the actions of Antigone are incited and decided by fate, and as such are incontrovertible despite the best or worst intentions of mortals. For example, Eteokles and Polyneikes battle each other because they were cursed by their father Oedipus to do so. Antigone’s doom is also prophesied due to Oedipus’ own sins. The death of Haimon is in turn fated by Kreon’s acts.

Oedipus, Antigone, and Haimon lived and died as prophecy predicted they would. The unavoidability of prophecy, articulated by seers but spoken by the gods, indicates that in this world, humans have no right to decide their fate. When Kreon declares that no one can save “those girls from their fate” (829), he both blasphemes before the gods and ironically makes a true statement. As the Messenger says, “Mortals should not swear anything’s / Impossible” (429-30). What comes for us in this life is only the domain of the gods. 

God and Man’s Law

Mortal and divine law are at odds in this play, a situation that always leads to the punishment of mortals by death. In Antigone, Kreon’s law to leave Polyneikes unburied is in direct contest with the law of the gods that cities and families should bury their own.