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Study Questions

Study Questions

SOPHOCLES’ ANTIGONE: STUDY QUESTIONS

1. Why does Sophocles’ open with this dialogue between sisters? What are Antigone’s

problems? Ismene’s?

2. Why is Antigone determined to bury her brother? What are her arguments?

3. Why does Sophocles’ use a chorus of old men? What is the overall mood of the parodos (entrance song by the chorus)?

4. What is Creon’s policy and political views? How does he express himself?

5. How well does the Sentry stand up against Creon? How sympathetic and how comic is he?

6. What is the significance and tone of the First Choral Ode, the “Ode to Man?” How reflective is it of Periclean Athens?

7. Why did Antigone return to the corpse for the “second burial?” What is her mood now?

8. What are the issues of this agon (confrontation, debate with paired long speeches) and stichomythia =verbal repartee)?

9. What are Cron’s values? How does he respond to Antigone’s speech? What does he think Antigone is guilty of?

10. How do you explain Ismene’s change of mind? Does she share Antigone’s view of protest and death?

11. Saying she is dead already, Antigone remains silent for the remainder of the scene. What is the power of silence? Or does she? Who should say “Dearest Haemon ...”?

12. What mood does the chorus set with their references to curse and Zeus?

13. How does the rich, dense imagery of this ode affect our reactions?

14. How effective are Haemon and Creon’s arguments in this agon between father and son?

15. How sympathetic is Haemon? What are his feelings for Antigone? How does he change in the course of the scene?

16. What does Creon intend to do with the two women? Why? What is “pollution?” 17. Why do the chorus sing an Ode to Eros (Love, Sexual Desire)?18. What is the significance of Antigone’s reverence to Niobe in her kommos (lament)? 19. What is the attitude of the chorus to Antigone’s predicament? How do they explain

her motives?

20. Does Antigone’s journey proceed from heroic defiance to isolation and self-pity?

21. How does one read Antigone’s long speech of justification? Is it “inept,” “illogical,”“unconvincing and bizarre,” rational and reasonable,” “plausible?”

22. Is there yet one more change in Antigone before her final departure?

23. Why delay the action with a long choral ode? How do the three mythical characters of Danae, Lycurgus and Cleopatra relate to the case of Antigone? Does the chorus shift its focus now to the power of Destiny, Fate?

24. Who is Teiresias and why does he appear in so many Greek tragedies? What is his message and how does he, almost a prologue, introduce a new plot action?

25. Why does Creon yield and change his course of action? Has the focus shifted to Creon and do we see a development in his character in this scene?

26. Why does the chorus invoke Dionysus in prayer form? What is the new mood?

27. Who is the Messenger and what is the effect of his report? What are his strategies: direct speech, present tense, vivid detail, chronology?

28. Why bring Eurydice on the stage for one short speech? Why a silent exit?

29. What is the effect of Creon’s kommos (lyrical lament) and admission of error and acceptance of guilt? Why is his concern only for Haemon?

30. How does Sophocles use the ekkyklema (portable stage to display dead bodies) to create a moving tableau?

31. What are the causes of Creon’s tragedy and fall? How similar is he to Aristotle’s tragic hero?

32. Are there any ironies in Creon’s downfall? What is irony and why does Sophocles employ it so frequently?

33. How does the play end? Why does Sophocles not bring back Antigone’s corpse?