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The following thesis statement once upon a time served me well:
A major theme of Antigone is the conflict between religious law and man-made law.
Antigone believes in the supremacy of religious law and tradition. Although King Creon has decreed that the traitor Polyneices should not be buried, Antigone insists on following the religious law requiring that females bury the deceased of their family.
The poet Teiraisias warns Creon:
You have dishonored a living soul with exile in the tomb,/hurling a member of this world below./You are detaining here, moreover/a dead body, unsanctified, and so unholy ,/a subject of the nethergods.
Creon, however, insists that Antigone has commited "open rebellion," and that if he does not put her to death he will betray his responsibility to his subjects:
Since I caught her, alone of all entire(665)
people, in open rebellion, I will not
make myself a liar to the city,
but kill her.
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