In Antigone, how does Haemon attempt to reason with his father?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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After King Creon decides to put Antigone to death for her crime against the state, he is approached by his son Haemon, who is Antigone's lover and fiance.  Haemon pleads with his father to spare Antigone's life.

Haemon begins by declaring his allegience to his father (always a good idea when asking Dad for a big favor):


Father, I am yours, and as you have me,
you guide the best course for me to follow.(645)
No marriage will ever be more important to
me than justly carrying out your precepts.

After listening to his father rail against Antigone, Haemon presents several lines of reasoning.

a) The public is on Antigone's side; since the "city does not belong to one man [only]," Haemon feels that his father should bend to public opinion.

b) Antigone's actions were not wrong:

She didn't let her brother,
who had fallen in combat, lie unburied,
to be devoured by some ravenous
dog or bird. They ought to give her an award!

c) By punishing Antigone, who has obeyed the divine obligation of burying the dead, Creon is placing his entire kingdom at risk:

Am I wrong to protect my own empire?(755)
You don't protect it when you trample the honors of the gods!

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