The Conflict between Secular and Divine Laws

“They claim Creon has vowed that no one shall bury him, no one shall weep for him, but that his corpse shall lie in the fields,….for carrion birds to dig while they hunt for food.” Creon, the king, has ceremoniously buried one of Antigone’s brothers but refuses to bury the other because he was opposed to his administration and prohibits anyone else from doing so. Since Antigone promises to bury her brother regardless of the repercussions, this raises the question of civil disobedience. The king feels that she has disobeyed the state laws, but Antigone argue that they could be disobeyed to honor the gods whose authority and the rule is supreme (Benardete, 26)

“Have you had my proclamation regarding this matter ….and yet you defied the law?” Here Creon was referring to the restriction of burying Antigone’s brother. This creates an aspect of dictatorship. He is setting rules without considering his subject’s feelings and rights. After Antigone violates the decree, he orders that she be buried alive. He also expects his followers to shower him with praise after everything he says and does whether good or bad. He is a self –centered ruler who disregards his people and expects them to follow his rules to the letter. It also portrays the oppression of the people of this city by their king (Honig, 24)

“He would, for you honor a traitor as much as him….he made war on his country…” The fact that Polyneices had attacked the Creon’s city severally, he regarded him as a traitor, and he revoked his citizenship. This raises a question on the basis that is used in determining their citizenship. In the eyes of the king, citizenship is a contract that may be terminated at any time of his will without consultations. The king also has a disregard for women in leadership leading to a feminist issue and the place of women in the society. He feels that they should and can never lead, “While I am living, no woman shall rule”.

The internal contradiction of the denial of the king of a proper burial to Polyneices shows his disregard for the supreme laws of the gods that require all cities to bury their dead and not leave them at the battlefield. It also requires them to perform the required burial rites to avoid displeasing the gods. However, this did not happen, and the consequences have been witnessed through multiple deaths at the end of the play. This leaves the Athenian state to the mercies of their gods and their performing of rituals to appease their gods and ask for forgiveness on behalf of the proud and arrogant leader (Honig, 21)

It also shows his disregard for the will of the people. The people in this city have been jeopardized and will now hesitate to fight for their rights, as they will be seen as opposing the king hence being termed as traitors. The fear of their bodies being left unburied after a battle, which is considered as the worst punishment for families left behind will deter people from going to fight. As a result, the neighboring cities will find this city as weak. They will also cast aspersions on the leader, because of fighting his people for the greed of political power and authority (Benardete, 29)

Works cited

Benardete, Seth. “Sacred Transgressions: A Reading of Sophocles’ Antigone.” (2014).:27-35

Honig, Bonnie. Antigone, interrupted. Cambridge University Press, 2013.


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