Why could it be suggested that Creon's edict in Antigone goes against the Greek values of life transitioning to death?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Antigone, it is clear that Sophocles, Antigone, and all of the Greek citizens of Thebes cide with burying Polyneices as part of the gods' "unwritten law."  The only one who doesn't is the vengeful and stubborn Creon.

Respecting the dead is a Greek tradition.  In Book XI of The Odyssey, when Odysseus' visits Hades, the dead spirit of Elpenor asks Odysseus to bury his body.  Odysseus says,

The first ghost that came was that of my comrade Elpenor, for he had not yet been laid beneath the earth. We had left his body unwept for and unburied in Circe's house, for we had had too much else to do. I was very sorry for him,...

To which Elpenor responds:

Do not go thence leaving me unmourned and unburied behind you, or I may bring heaven's anger upon you; but burn me with whatever armor I have, build a barrow for me on the sea shore, that may tell people in days to come what a poor unlucky fellow I was, and plant over my grave the oar I used to row with when I was yet alive and with my messmates.’

Antigone echoes these words when she tells her sister:

I will bury him: well for me to die in doing that. I shall rest, a loved one with him whom I have loved, sinless in my crime; for I owe a longer allegiance to the dead than to the living: in that world I shallabide for ever. But if thou wilt, be guilty of dishonouring laws which the gods have stablished in honour.

As The Odyssey was written some 400 years before Antigone, it is clear that the Greeks required burial rites for the dead, even if he was a drunk who carelessly fell off a roof or fought against his own state and brother in a civil war.

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