Antigone by Robert Fagles, Article Review Example

Part I

This is a conversation between the Messenger and Eurydice. The messenger gives his account to Eurydice, his account of how he escorted his lord, Creon, to the place where the body of Polynices. He recounts how he found the body torn apart by stray dogs. He tells of how they made prayers to Hectate of the crossroads and Pluto. They prayed that the two gods hold their anger to allow them to mourn their dead. He tells of how they mourned their dead by observing their ritual, washing the dead and burned their bodies.

He recounts of how they made for the rocky vaults of the bride of death. As they approached, they heard a cold chilling voice, a cry. It was the voice of his son. Creon heard this and ordered his men to go to through the gap. The men searched the tomb and finally found his son, Haemon’s, clinging to her bride, Antigone, who was hanged by her veils. When Creon came in he cried to his son asking him what had come over his son. Haemon’s gave him a chilling look and drew his sword. Creon ran out and as he did, Heamon fell on his own sword.

Part II

The main issues reflected in this excerpt of the play are;

Death: this is shown in the way that the messenger and Creon find the body of Polynices. This is also reflected in the way Antigone is found hanged by her veils and the Haemon falling on his sword. Death is the main issue in this excerpt.

Sorrow: Sorrow is shown in the manner in which the messenger passes his account of the events. The mood behind the whole excerpt is sorrowful as death is the main issue.

Mourning the dead: Mourning the dead is a critical part of any society and this is brought out in the way Creon observes the society’s way of mourning. He and the messenger say prayers to Hectate and Pluto. This is followed by washing the dead body of Polynices in a bath of holy water. They plucked some fresh branches and burned the remains of Polynices. They then raised a high mound of native earth on the place where they burned the remains.

Part IV

There are multiple suggestions that are underlying within the excerpt.

  1. The tomb’s very mouth: Sophocles clearly imagined Antigone’s prison on the model of the great domed Mycenaean tombs, built of stone and then covered with earth. Haemon has pried loose some of the stones to effect an entrance; once inside this, Creon’s men go along a passage to the “mouth” (i.e., the doorway) of the main chamber.
  2. Hecate of the Crossroads: a goddess associated with burial grounds and the darkness of the night; offerings to her were left at crossroads. Here she is thought of as associated with Pluto (another name of Hades), as one whose privileges have been curtailed by Creon’s action
  3. We found her . . . I hanged by the neck . . . The details are not clear. These words seem to mean that the speaker saw Antigone still hanging. At the end of his speech he describes Haemon as embracing Antigone—”there he lies, body enfolding body” (1369)—in terms which clearly imply that her body has been lowered to the ground. Sophocles does not tell us how or when this happened, but we probably are meant to imagine that.

Part V and VI

The interpretations of the 3 given suggestions within the text are in my opinion valid.