The Role of Fate in Antigone Essay
- Date:Jun 17, 2019
Fate assumes a vital role in Sophocles’ play, Antigone. It shapes the characters and the themes present in the play since it seems to befall all the characters depicted in the story. As a matter of fact, it is Antigone’s family’s fate to suffer from the commencement of the play.
Fate is evident when Creon states that Antigone is destined to have an embarrassing fateful end because they are not respectful when he states that Polynice’s Body is “…there for birds and dogs to eat, a clear reminder of his shameful fate” (Sophocles & Ian 14). There are also depictions of Antigone vowing to fulfil her fate and does so by burying the brother contrary to the law (Sophocles & Rayor 18). She decides to do so by explaining to her sister, whom is against her actions, that her fate is predestined and that she observes the wishes of the god’s as opposed to stipulations of the law. This is evident when she says, “Don’t fear for me, set your own fate in order” (Sophocles & Ian 9). Antigone explains that the law of the gods will forever reign and that regulations made by men cannot compromise their existence. She explains that if she is destined to die she will definitely follow suit, since she will die after all. In that light, she goes on to reinforce that if the death came earlier, it would amount to a benefit since she is surrounded by many evils in the world. This is demonstrated when she mentions that, “…and for me meeting this fate won’t bring any pain (Sophocles & Ian 23).
Fate in ancient Greece was believed to exist alongside belief in decision-making and guidance of the gods. They used the words moira and aisa, which translate to lot or share to explain that fate had already being apportioned to everyone and so no one could escape it (Stafford 108). Fate is also considered more arbitrary and powerful than the gods (Wilson 293). The ultimate fate was believed to be death, since everybody will perish at some instance in life (Sacks, Murray & Brody 132).
However, determination of human fate by the gods did not mean that humans could not impose fate on themselves. Due to human nature, in ancient Greece, they believed that a person would bring fortune or even curse upon themselves. Fate was also depicted to determine the sadness or the happiness of a person (Wilson 293). Therefore, fate was believed to determine various aspects of life and thus clarified one’s place in life (Hastings 4). For example, the plight of Antigone’s family can be traced back to Oedipus’ curse from his father Laos, who did not obey Apollo’s warning about having any children after offending him. Actually, Antigone acknowledges that theirs is a cursed family since time immemorial and that even the death of Polyneice’s is a result of such fate. She acknowledges so by saying; “… The curse arising from a mother’s bed, when she had sex with her own son, my father” (Sophocles & Ian 41).
Creon, on the other hand, has also helped exemplify the role of fate in the play since after being accorded the leadership of Thebes, he assumes that position with a lot of arrogance, to the extent that he defies the wishes of the gods and decides to adhere to the law. For instance, Creon refuses to accord Polyneice’s with a noble funeral by declaring that his body will be abandoned for the dogs to consume it (Sophocles & Ian 14). He again goes ahead and buries Antigone alive by claiming that she defied the law to bury Polyneice’s. In fact, it is after prophet Teiresias pleading with Creon that he resolves to apologise and even want to save Antigone. However, it is already late for him since Antigone commits suicide. The gods get angered by Creon’s deeds and that is why they decide to destroy him for the disrespectful burial of Polyneices as well as Antigone’s demise. Antigone cannot evade the god’s wrath, or rather his fateful end, and is why his wife as well as son commits suicide, leaving him as a miserable, lonely man.
Fate played a major role in ancient Greece, influencing various works such as that of Sophocles. Therefore, based on the actions in Antigone, it is clear that fate assumed a central role, since they are a cursed family that is made to suffer as their fatal ending.
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Sacks, D., Murray,O., & Brody, R. Encyclopaedia Of The Ancient Greek World. New York: Facts On File, 2005. Print.
Sophocles & Ian C. Johnston. Antigone. Arlington, Va: Richer Resources Publications, 2007. Print.
Sophocles & Rayor, Diane J. Sophocles Antigone. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.
Stafford, E. Exploring The Life, Myth, And Art Of Ancient Greece. New York: Rosen Pub., 2012. Print.
Wilson, N. Encyclopedia Of Ancient Greece. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013. Print.