What is Eurydice's role in Antigone, and is her presence essential to the story?

Eurydice is necessary to the plot of Antigone but her presence is not strictly speaking essential as the play could be staged with her offstage and only reported.

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Eurydice is the wife of Creon and the mother of Haemon, Antigone 's fiance. She appears only briefly, near the end of the play. She has a short dialogue with a messenger and demands to hear a full and truthful account of what happened when Creon relented and decided to...

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Eurydice is the wife of Creon and the mother of Haemon, Antigone's fiance. She appears only briefly, near the end of the play. She has a short dialogue with a messenger and demands to hear a full and truthful account of what happened when Creon relented and decided to release Antigone.

The device of having Eurydice talk with a messenger about the events lets Sophocles inform the audience of the suicides of Antigone and Haemon without presenting the acts on stage. This follows a convention in the genre of Greek tragedy that death and violence normally occur offstage and are reported after the fact rather than being portrayed directly.

Eurydice is very upset by the news and leaves the stage. We find out later that she has committed suicide. Again, the audience does not see the suicide enacted but hears of it via a messenger.

Eurydice is essential to the plot of the play although it would be possible to stage the play without her actually appearing on stage at all.

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Eurydice's role in the play is important because it shows us that Creon's actions cause suffering to innocent people as well as to himself. It wasn't Eurydice who issued the cruel proclamation forbidding Antigone from burying her brother's corpse; nor was it Eurydice who stubbornly refused to listen to reason and insisted on Antigone's death. Yet she, like her son, Haemon, is ultimately destroyed by Creon's monumental hubris as well as his cruelty and vengefulness.

Eurydice also illustrates the subordinate status of women in Ancient Greece. Although she is a queen, she has no independent power; her status derives solely from her marriage to Creon. Eurydice's small but significant role reminds us that Ancient Greece was a man's world in which the decisions of kings, warriors, and statesmen had a profound, and often detrimental, impact on the lives of women and their children.

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Eurydice's role in the play as Creon's wife and Haimon's mother is essential in the story because her death completes the fulfillment of Teiresias' prophecy. Shortly before the play's conclusion, Teiresias issues this warning to Creon:

The time is not far off when you shall pay back

Corpse for corpse, flesh of your own flesh.

You have thrust the child of this world into living night,

You have kept from the gods below the child that is theirs:

Although Creon first treats Teiresias with contempt, after the old seer leaves him, Creon acts to right the wrongs he has committed. He will free Antigone from her tomb and arrange an honorable burial for Polyneices. He is too late, however. Antigone commits suicide before Creon can free her. Haimon, Creon and Eurydice's son, commits suicide out of his grief for the lost Antigone, and Eurydice then takes her own life when she receives word that Haimon is dead. With the deaths of Eurydice and Haimon, Teiresias' prophecy comes true. Creon has indeed paid back "corpse for corpse" for his sins against Antigone and Polyneices.

Adding to Creon's torment is the knowledge that Eurydice's last words were to curse him. Teiresias prophesied that "the dark gods of hell" will punish Creon swiftly and terribly and that Creon's house "will be full of men and women weeping." The death of Eurydice immediately following the loss of Haimon fulfills the remainder of the prophecy.

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