Prior to the beginning of Sophocles's Antigone, Creon, Antigone's uncle, assumed control of Thebes after the death of Antigone's brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles. Their father, Oedipus, had decreed that they should share the throne after his death, but after agreeing to being king on alternate years, Eteocles refused to give up the throne to Polyneices, and a civil war ensued.
The two brothers killed each other in battle. Creon issued an edict that provided that Eteocles should be given a state funeral and a hero's burial, but the body of Polyneices is to be left in the desert, unburied. Anyone who attempts to bury Polyneices will be condemned to death.
This is the primary source of conflict between Antigone and Creon. Antigone believes that Creon is absolutely wrong to issue such an edict, not only because Polyneices is her brother and the edict violates basic human decency, but also because the edict violates the laws of the gods, which Antigone believes supersede the laws of men.
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