Essential Quotes by Character: Antigone
Essential Passage 1:Lines 82-99
Alas, how I fear for you, daring girl!
Don't worry for me; straighten out your own life.
Then, at least, proclaim this deed to no one;
but keep it secret, and I shall do the same. (85)
Oh, denounce it! I will hate you the more
if you don't tell these things to everyone.
You have a hot heart for chilling matters.
But I know I'll please those I should please most.
If you can—you want the impossible. (90)
Well, then, I shall stop whenever my strength fails.
You should not start an impossible quest.
If you say this, you will be hateful to me,
and the dead will hate you always—justly.
But let me and my foolish plans suffer (95)
this terrible thing, for I shall succumb
to nothing so awful as a shameful death.
Then go, if this seems best to you, but know that
your friends truly love you, however foolish.
Antigone has learned of her uncle Creon’s decree that Polynices, who had fought against his native Thebes, will not be buried. As punishment, he shall instead be left in the open to be devoured by dogs and vultures. Antigone has told her sister Ismene of this new law, and both women lament the dishonor brought upon their brother. Antigone, however, is determined to defy her uncle’s decree and plans to give Polynices an honorable burial. Ismene is well aware, as is Antigone, that Creon has stated that anyone who dares to bury Polynices will be put to death, yet Antigone vows to perform this service to her brother in defiance of the law and its proposed consequences. Ismene urges her sister not to do this, or if she does, then to do it quietly. In contempt, Antigone turns from her sister. Ismene is appalled at Antigone’s seeming hard-heartedness and tells her that she is on a hopeless quest, sure to bring about her own doom. As Antigone leaves, Ismene tells her departing sister that, as irrational as she is, she is still loved by those who are dear to her.
Essential Passage 2: Lines 487-500
But know that hard minds fall the hardest, and
that iron, so powerful of itself,
baked to exceeding hardness, you might see
crack and break into pieces. I know that (490)
spirited horses are broken with a small bit,
for no one is allowed to think big thoughts,
if he is another man's slave. She showed
herself capable of insolence then,
going beyond the laws put before her. (495)
Her second insolence, after she had
done it, was to exult in her deed and
laugh that she had done it. Now I am no man,
but she is a man, if power lies with her
The report is brought to Creon that Polynices has had dust spread over his corpse, a direct defiance of Creon’s decree against any sort of burial. The sentry, having been blamed for this, goes out to find who is the actual culprit. In triumph he returns, leading Antigone as the guilty party. Creon is shocked at first, but in a sense of justification states that she is just like her father, Oedipus, who was struck down by his insolence against his fellowman, never learning from the punishment of the gods. Creon predicts that likewise Antigone will fall, especially since she is a woman and thus not allowed to think “big thoughts” in contradiction to her ruling male (in this case Creon). In his own pride, Creon vows that she will not go unpunished, for this would mean that she had gained victory over him. Pleading the good of his gender, besides the welfare of the state, he promises that Antigone will face death for her defiance.
Essential Passage 3:Lines 896-920
O tomb, O bridal bower, o underground
home everlasting, whither I journey
to my own people, whose great number—
so many destroyed—Persephone has
received among the dead. To these I go down— (900)
the last of them all and worst by far,
before my allowance of life is spent.
Nevertheless, as I go, I nurture
the hope that I will come dear to my father,
dear to you, mother, and dear to you, my own (905)
dear brother. When you died,...
(The entire section is 2,624 words.)