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Punishments of Creon and Antigone in Sophocles' Antigone

Summary:

In Sophocles' Antigone, Creon is punished by the loss of his son Haemon and his wife Eurydice, who both commit suicide, leaving him in profound grief. Antigone faces punishment by entombment alive for defying Creon's decree, resulting in her own suicide. Both suffer greatly due to their rigid adherence to their principles.

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What is Creon's punishment in Antigone?

Creon is punished through the loss of his family for refusing to bury Polynices and for condemning Antigone to death. Antigone hangs herself before Creon is able to tell her that he has reversed her death sentence. Then his son Haemon, whose was betrothed to Antigone, stabs himself to death in response to his grief over losing Antigone. Finally, Eurydice, heartbroken over the loss of her son, also stabs herself to death, cursing her husband, Creon, as she dies.

Creon, his family gone, feels his life no longer has any meaning. He realizes too late that becoming a tyrant and defying the gods has led to him losing everything he values. At the end of the play, he only wishes for death.

As in Oedipus Rex, this play illustrates the tragic fate that befalls those who think they can defy the will of the gods. Creon wants to display his power and punish those who defied him by leaving Polynices's corpse to rot in the open air without a proper burial. However, this violates a deeply important moral law that states that all Greeks are entitled to a decent burial. Creon pays a high price for overstepping the bounds of his power.

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What punishment does Antigone receive for disobeying Creon in Sophocles' Antigone?

Creon is in a notably difficult position in the play Antigone. The city of Thebes has undergone numerous misfortunes, including the death of Laius, a plague, the discovery that the city's savior Oedipus actually murdered his father and married his mother, and finally the fratricidal wars between the brothers Polyneices and Eteocles. In light of these events, Creon is trying to restore some semblance of order and normalcy to the city. Because of this, he makes the harsh decision that while Eteocles shall be buried with honor, Polyneices' corpse shall be left out for the birds and beasts that feed on carrion. He decrees that anyone attempting to bury the corpse of the traitor shall be stoned to death.

When Antigone is identified as the culprit trying to bury the body, Creon is confronted with a dilemma. Not only is Creon Antigone's uncle but Antigone is engaged to Creon's son Haemon. In Greek religion, killing or harming a relative calls down the vengeance of the gods not just upon the perpetrator but also upon the community as a whole. Thus rather than actively kill Antigone, Creon orders her walled up in a cave. If she starves to death, that will not bring ritual pollution and the gods' anger on Thebes and Creon; in a sense, Creon is trying to escape the displeasure of the gods on a technicality.

Of course, one can never escape divine justice in Greek plays, and when Antigone commits suicide, tragedy ensues with Haemon, Creon's son, and Creon's wife, both also committing suicide.

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What punishment does Antigone receive for disobeying Creon in Sophocles' Antigone?

Sophocles' Antigone, which first came to the stage in Athens in around 442/441 BCE, deals with the aftermath of the famous Seven against Thebes war. In this conflict, Eteocles and Polyneices, the sons of Oedipus and Jocasta, ended up killing each other.

Afterwards, Creon became king of Thebes and decreed that Eteocles should be given a hero's burial, whereas Polyneices should be left on the battlefield as food for dogs and birds. Creon declared that anyone who buried Polyneices would "be stoned to death before the city" (Ian Johnston translation).

After Creon discovers that Antigone has buried Polyneices, though, he decides not to have her stoned, but that he will "hide her in a cavern in the rocks / while still alive". Thus, it appears that Antigone will starve to death. Eventually, though, Antigone will kill herself.

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What punishment does Antigone receive for disobeying Creon in Sophocles' Antigone?

Creon has decreed that Polyneices' body will be left to rot out in the open as he was one of the so-called 'Four against Thebes,' the traitors who led an invasion force against the city and desecrated its temples. Furthermore, the king of Thebes solemnly declares that anyone who attempts to bury Polyneices' corpse will be stoned to death. Creon doesn't seriously expect his orders to be disobeyed; this is a man used to getting his own way. In Thebes, his word is law. So when Antigone comes along and brazenly defies his kingly decrees, Creon is quite taken aback.

Though outraged at this open challenge to his authority, he has to tread carefully here. As well as being Polyneices' sister, Antigone is also engaged to be married to Creon's son, Haemon. In Ancient Greek society, killing or harming a relative was strictly taboo and was thought to bring down the wrath of the gods. So instead of having Antigone stoned to death Creon has her walled up in a cave. This way, he won't be harming her directly; she'll simply die of starvation. Creon hopes that by punishing Antigone in this manner he will appease the gods' anger.

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What punishment does Antigone receive for disobeying Creon in Sophocles' Antigone?

In Sophocles's tragic play Antigone, Creon, the ruler of Thebes, makes a decree that Polyneices's body will be subjected to public shame after the civil war led by the rivaling brothers (Polyneices and Eteocles) ends with both men dead. While Eteocles's body will be properly honored and handled, Polyneices will not receive holy rights and will go unburied so animals can pick at his carcass. 

Creon decides the consequence of breaking this decree is death. Despite this, Antigone risks her life to honor her brother's legacy by giving him a burial.

As a result, Creon has her imprisoned and then buried alive in a cave. These actions displease the gods, and the Chorus tries to warn Creon that Antigone should be freed. Unfortunately, Creon is too stubborn to listen; Antigone kills herself, causing suffering to fall upon the land.

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