Tagged: Sophocles

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Sophocles’ Antigone 5

Antigone VII: Episode II The bodyguard had vowed never to return to Creon’s presence, but finding Antigone, he changes his mind.  “Afterthought (epinoia) gives the lie to/renders false an opinion.”  This thought may already have been a proverb, which was later rendered by John Dryden as “Second thoughts, they say, are the best.”   Who are the “they” that Dryden had in mind?  Perhaps Cicero and Euripides.  However, when Euripides’ Phaedra makes this observation, she refutes the statement—her second thought is to seduce her stepson.  Bishop Butler is probably closer to the mind of Euripides and Sophocles in saying, “The...

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Sophocles’ Antigone 4

The Parodos The Parodos of the Antigone begins with a lyric ode and concludes with a brief anapaestic passage (a meter for marching and walking, not singing and dancing) that serves as a transition to the first episode. The chorus celebrate the sun that rises on the flight of the Argive army and the defeat of Polynices, the source (they say in punning) of strifes.  They draw a moral lesson from the Argive hero Capaneus, who had mounted the walls, boasting that not even Zeus could prevent him from torching the city. “For Zeus detests the boasts of a proud...

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Sophocles’ Antigone 3

Autodidact:  Sophocles’  Antigone III Thomas Fleming The Structure of Tragedy First, a few words about the nature and structure of tragedy.  The origins of Greek tragedy lie in a long-standing tradition of choral lyric poetry.  In primitive tragedy, we can imagine a chorus of 12 male citizens chanting a processional introduction and singing formal odes on the exploits and, usually, death of a hero.  Later the number was increased to 15. At some point a hypokrites or interpreter was added.  Presumably this actor, as we call him, could both interpret the choral lyrics by introducing them and responding to them and...

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Autodidact: Sophocles’ Antigone

Autodidact: Sophocles’ Antigone I by Thomas Fleming Sophocles is among the most misunderstood writers of antiquity.  In liberal interpretations, he has been made into a kind of rational and liberal humanist.  In fact, he was a political and religious reactionary.  Religious and skeptical of sophistry, Sophocles was both a profound writer and an Athenian citizen who served his city in war and peace.  His works are a warning against intellectual and political arrogance, and if Pericles (whom he seems not to have liked) had listened, Athens would never have hurled itself into a campaign of imperialism and war that proved...