Antigone by Sophocles – An Ode in Praise of Man – Analysis

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Sophocles’ Antigone

An Ode in Praise of Man

  1. The chorus about how man have conquered many difficulties on earth such as learning to ride horses and using animals for plough fields, yet he still haven’t conquered death. This power man holds can either destroy him or lead him to greatness. If the man uses the power in a way which defies the laws of the land or the justice of the god, then he will be cast out by society.
  2. The key purpose of this ode is to make a smooth transition from two different scenes. It’s main theme is a warning to man of his power.
  3.  
    1. “Terrible wonders walk the world”(line 377) ~ personification
    2. “the life that swarms the depth-/with one fling of his nets/…he takes the all,/man the skilled, the brilliant!”(line 387-390)~strong imagery of glowing accomplishments of men
    3. “An speech and thought, quick as the wind”(line 395) ~simile, praise the ability of man
    4. “Shafts of lashing rain”(line 400) ~personification, stress the tough situation man was able to overcome
    5. “He weaves…that binds” (line 409-411)
  4. This ode seems to be arguing in favour of Creon by saying that the laws of the land and gods shouldn’t be disobeyed and those who disobey (Antigone) will be punished, but Antigone’s argument matches with chorus as well, in ways such as:
    1. Since death is out of man’s control, then the “natural” way for man to be pass on is not to be interfered by man
    2. Death is in god’s control. Those who disobey are breaking the god’s law. Punishments will be received. ( Creon’s loss)

The chorus also acts as a foreshadow. The line, “the skills within his grasp-/he forges on, now to destruction…When he weaves in the laws of the land, and the justice of the gods/ that binds his oaths together…”(line 407-411) is similar to the role of Creon; he had the power and he made laws that doesn’t agree with justice of the gods causing him much grief later on.

  1. This is an effective ode in many ways. The ode sets the mood by using strong imagery (see 3). The imagery makes Creon’s argument more serious, almost like a false lead for the audience; leading them to one direction, taking Creon’s side, then later on, at the end of the play, reveal how he is wrong. Though this is done with some playful intentions as the Ode also hints at what Creon is getting himself into. (see above). This ode also offers a smooth transition from Creon scene to Antigone, by relating Creon’s argument to Antigone’s actions.

For more Antigone Analysis click links below:

Forth Episode (page102-107):

http://www.bukisa.com/articles/241635_analysis-of-the-fourth-episode-p102-107-antigone-chorus-and-creon

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