Did Antigone Have The Right to Bury?

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 660 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 660|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Importance of Burial Rites
  2. Defying King Creon's Decree
  3. The Moral Implications
  4. Conclusion

Throughout the play Antigone by Sophocles, the protagonist Antigone faces a moral dilemma when she decides to bury her brother, Polynices, against the orders of her uncle, King Creon. This essay will explore the reasons why Antigone felt compelled to bury her brother and argue that she did indeed have the right to do so. By examining the text, we can gain a deeper understanding of Antigone's motivations and the moral implications of her actions.

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The Importance of Burial Rites

Antigone's desire to bury her brother stems from her deep belief in the importance of proper burial rites. In ancient Greek culture, the proper burial of the deceased was seen as essential for their journey to the afterlife. Antigone expresses this belief when she states, "But I will bury him; and if I must die, / I say that this crime is holy" (Sophocles, 87-88). This quote highlights Antigone's conviction that denying Polynices a proper burial is a sacrilege, and she is willing to face the consequences, even death, for her actions.

Furthermore, Antigone's determination to bury her brother is also driven by her loyalty and love for her family. In the text, she declares, "I owe a longer allegiance / To the dead than to the living" (Sophocles, 96-97). This statement emphasizes the importance of familial bonds and suggests that Antigone's actions are not solely motivated by religious beliefs but also by her personal connection to Polynices.

Defying King Creon's Decree

Antigone's decision to bury her brother directly challenges the authority of King Creon, who has declared that Polynices should remain unburied as punishment for his rebellion against Thebes. Antigone's defiance can be seen as an act of civil disobedience, driven by her belief in a higher moral law. She questions Creon's authority when she asks, "And if I die for it, what happiness! / I shall lie down with him in death, and I shall be as dear to him / as he to me" (Sophocles, 85-87). This quote illustrates Antigone's willingness to sacrifice her life for her principles and her refusal to conform to an unjust law.

Moreover, Antigone's actions can be interpreted as a challenge to the patriarchal society in which she lives. By defying Creon, who represents the male-dominated power structure, Antigone asserts her agency and independence. This defiance of societal norms adds another layer of complexity to Antigone's motivations and highlights her desire to uphold her own moral values.

The Moral Implications

The act of burying her brother not only carries personal significance for Antigone, but it also raises broader moral questions. By denying Polynices a proper burial, Creon is denying him the opportunity for a peaceful afterlife. Antigone argues, "But I will bury him, / and if I must die, / I say that this crime is holy" (Sophocles, 87-88). This quote suggests that Antigone sees her actions as a sacred duty, a moral obligation to ensure her brother's soul finds rest.

Additionally, Antigone's actions challenge the concept of justice. While Creon believes he is upholding justice by punishing Polynices for his rebellion, Antigone argues that justice extends beyond human laws. She states, "Nor did I think your orders were so strong / that you, a mortal man, could over-run the gods / unwritten and unchanging laws" (Sophocles, 484-486). This quote highlights Antigone's belief in divine justice and her refusal to accept a human decree that contradicts her understanding of a higher moral law.

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In conclusion, Antigone's desire to bury her brother arises from her belief in the importance of proper burial rites, her loyalty to her family, and her defiance of an unjust decree. By examining the implications of her actions, we can see that Antigone's decision carries both personal and moral significance. The play raises important questions about the limits of authority, the power of familial bonds, and the nature of justice. Antigone's actions challenge societal norms and assert her own agency, making a powerful statement about the importance of staying true to one's moral convictions, even in the face of adversity.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Did Antigone Have The Right To Bury? (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from
“Did Antigone Have The Right To Bury?” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
Did Antigone Have The Right To Bury? [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 18 Jul. 2024].
Did Antigone Have The Right To Bury? [Internet] GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 18]. Available from:
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