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Antigone Essay

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1. The choral ode’s relevance to the immediate context in which it is performed is the struggle between civilization and the will of nature. The ode speaks about mankind’s conquest over nature, over even the gods. When the chorus sings about how mankind conquered the seas, they make sure to bring up the fact that they had defeated a god (“and the oldest of gods he wears away”). Creon wants order to be established in the state since his people had just gone through a civil war. One way he wants to restore order is to disallow the burial of Polynices, the one who invaded the city of Thebes. This is evidenced by his line, “No he [Polynices] must be left unburied, his corpse carrion for birds and dogs to tear, an obscenity for the citizens to behold!... Never at my hands will the traitor be honored above the patriot”. Creon believes that an example must be made of Polynices, those who betray the state would not have their spirit put to peace. This decision angers Antigone, sister of Polynices, who wants her brother to be properly buried. Her decision supports the will of the gods, meaning that her decision is harmonious with nature.

The most important theme of the ode to the play as a whole is the theme of pride. Mankind’s pride in their conquest over nature is represented by Creon’s pride in his rule and his refusal to admit his wrongdoing. Creon believes his rule is equal to that of the gods which is represented in the ode about how mankind became the gods’ equals. This pride did not endear him to the gods and resulted in his bad fortune later on. His pride also prevented him from recognizing his mistakes and fixing them. By the time he decides to fix his mistakes (not burying Polynices, sentencing Antigone to death, not listening to his family), several of his family members committed suicide. The pride of mankind in the ode is reflected by Creon’s actions in the play.

2. The positive aspects of the translation in the play is that it goes into great detail about man’s takeover of nature. It gives a lot of examples about how great and intelligent man is which adds to the theme in the play of pride and arrogance. A negative aspect is that it does not go deep enough into their hatred of anarchy and those ready to upset the established order of society. It dedicates only a few lines to that aspect and it does not really add anything to the ode or play. For “Sophoclean” by Seamus Heaney, the positive aspect is the condensed straight to the point manner in which it is written. The translation goes over most of the important elements of the ode and leaves out the anarchist part since it didn’t add much to the ode (though it was an important theme in the play, it was not developed enough in the ode). However, the play does not delve into how humankind had supposedly reached the level of the gods (an important aspect of the play). This neglect negatively affected the translation. In Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald’s adaptation, a positive aspect is the well-developed anarchist theme. It's short but fits better in a condensed form of the poem rather than feeling shoe-horned in at the very end of the glorification of man. Unfortunately, it lacks in the analysis of mankind’s relationship with the gods; just like in Heaney’s translation. In Carson’s translation, she goes



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