Antigone Antigone was the daughter of Oedipus. She had two brothers, Polyneices and Eteocles, and a sister Ismene. Oedipus had been the King of Thebes. However, he had killed his father and married his mother not knowing they were his parents. Oedipus was disgraced and had left the kingdom. His two sons were too young to rule, so Creon, their uncle served as ruler of Thebes.
When Polyneices and Eteocles grew older they allowed their Uncle Creon to continue to rule because of the dishonor, which had been caused by their father. In time, each of the brothers wanted to rule Thebes. Arguments ensued. Polyneices felt he should be the ruler because he was the eldest.
Eteocles, also wanted to rule, but was forced to leave Thebes by his brother. Polyneices went to Argo and recruited an army against his brother and Thebes. During the battle Polyneices and Eteocles killed each other committing the sin of fratricide. After the death of their brothers, Antigone and Ismene were the only remaining members of the royal Oedipus family. Antigone was to marry Haemon, Creon's son thus uniting both royal families. Creon gave Eteocles a hero's funeral because he fought for Thebes.
Polyneices was not to be given a proper funeral but left out in the open for animals to eat and carry off. Antigone felt she and Ismene had an obligation to bury Polyneices, as there were no longer any males alive in the family. There was her uncle, Creon, but she considered him an enemy since he had forbade Polyneices burial and decreed a penalty of death if his orders were not followed. Antigone asked Ismene to help her bury Polyneices. But, Ismene did not want to defy Creon. Antigone become angry with Ismene and told her she would buy Polyneices herself.
She is captured by Creons guards while attempting to give Polyneices an honorable burial. Meanwhile, Tieresias the soothsayer, tells Creon his need to be right will lead to tragedy for him and the city. Creon decides to listen to Tieresias and give Polyneices a proper burial. He then goes to the cave to free Anitgone and finds his son, Haemon, has killed himself after finding Antigone dead.
Eurydice, Creon's wife, then kills herself upon hearing her son is dead. Creon now lives a life of misery, wishing only to die. Antigone felt Creon was defying the laws of the gods by not allowing Polyneices to be buried. The Greeks considered Zeus the god of the living, and Hades god of the dead. If Polyneices were not buried, it would bring more shame on the Oedipus Family because the dead were to be treated with respect. If respect were not shown to the dead, the land would be cursed and polluted.
Therefore proper burial was an important family obligation. Antigone believed it was her family and religious duty to bury Polyneices properly, regardless of the consequences. She felt she needed to remain loyal to both her family and religious obligations. She further demonstrated her value system by arguing with Creon, even though a woman arguing with a man was not acceptable at this time. Antigone also emphasized her family values by attempting to persuade her sister to help her bury their brother.
She felt it was their responsibility as there were not males left in the family. In the beginning, Creon upheld family values by ruling Thebes for his two young nephews. However, power and pride began to become more important to him. This can be seen in Creons' failure to listen to Antigone, or anyone and consider the importance of their values.
Creon did not believe in the underworld god, Hades and had no patience or understanding for those who did. He believed his decision to not bury Polyneices, was impartial, he was putting the good of the city first. However, the people of Thebes did not agree with his decisions, but would not speak out for fear of his reprisal. Creon had made it obvious to all that he was always right, and not to question his decisions. He would not consider Antigone or Ismenes' religious beliefs or feelings when he made his decision.
Thus we can see that the values Creon was upholding were strictly his own. However, when Tieresias, the soothsayer, tells Creon his need to be right (pride) will lead to tragedy for both him and the city, Creon is forced to rethink his position in lieu of the consequences. But, at this point it is too late and the Greek idea of fate has taken over. Creons entire family has now killed themselves and he blames himself, even though they died by their own hands. He now lives in misery and wishes to die. This is his life because he did not show reverence to the gods and now he must suffer their fates..