What are some important symbols in Sophocles' Antigone?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One important symbol in Sophocles’ Antigone is the stone tomb to which Creon condemns her.  His decree ordered a punishment of death by stoning if any one buried Polynices’.  When Creon learned that Antigone had buried her brother, he changed the sentenced to being buried alive in a stone tomb.  The tomb symbolizes that Antigone’s loyalties are not with the present king and kingdom, but with the dead—her father, mother, and brothers.  The stone tomb also symbolizes Creon’s poor judgment.  As Tiresias the soothsayer points out, Creon is committing a terrible sin against Zeus in burying a human being alive.  Creon has now committed a double sin first in refusing to bury Polynice’s body and now in burying Antigone alive.  The stone tomb, rather than death by stoning symbolizes that Creon is trying to invert the order of nature in defying the gods and putting his laws above the laws of the gods. 

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