COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS: Sophocles' Antigone


1. Does Antigone really expect Ismene to help her with Polynices' burial? Explain your reasoning.

2. Why does Creon choose to leave Polynices' body unburied?

3. Why does Creon sentence Antigone to death? What purpose does this serve in the play?

4. Why does Ismene attempt to share responsibility for Antigone's actions?

5. What does Haemon's appeal to Creon reveal about Haemon's character?

6. What purpose does the Guard's role serve?

7. Why does Creon become so obsessive and stubborn in his leadership? (He won't change his edict.)

8. What are the underlying feelings of the Chorus toward Creon? 

9. What is the role of Teirisias, the blind prophet? How does Creon react to him?

10. What does Creon eventually decide to do? Why?

11. What happens in the cave?

12. What is the role of the Messenger towards the end of the play? 

13. What motivates Eurydice's suicide?

14. Who is the tragic figure in this play? Justify your response.



GROUP DISCUSSION PROMPTS 

Part One


1. Identify three conflicts represented in this tragedy. Identify the scenes in which each conflict is played 

    out.


2. What is the moral lesson represented in this play?  


3. Do you think that Antigone's choice to defy Creon shows tragic pride and inflexibility, or heroic 

    dedication to virtue? Explain your opinion.


4. Do you think that Creon's decisions show heroic dedication to the well-being of Thebes and its citizens, 

    or tragic pride and inflexibility? Explain your opinion.


5. Identify and discuss an example in recent history where individuals have been forced to choose 

    between obeying established laws and human rights.


Part Two: Read the statements below and discuss your interpretation of each of them. Decide if you 

agree or disagree, and explain your reasoning.


1. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle

   "It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen."


2. Nineteenth-century American philosopher Henry David Thoreau

    "I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward."


3. Twentieth century civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

   a. "One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."


   b. "An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who 

    willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over 

    its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law." 


4. Twentieth century Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall

   "We must dissent from a government that has left its young without jobs, education or hope. We must 

   dissent from the poverty of vision and the absence of moral leadership. We must dissent because    

   America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better. "



Below: Antigone: A Clean House for the Dead Season, by Sam Weber  


SUPPLEMENTAL INFO (not required viewing or listening)

National Theatre You Tube: An Introduction to Greek Theatre 

National Theatre You Tube: An Introduction to Greek Tragedy

National Theatre You Tube Antigone: The Ancient Greek Chorus 

National Theatre You Tube Antigone: An Introduction

Crash Course Literature 202: "Fate, Family, and Oedipus Rex"

NY Times article: "Antigone Speaks to a Modern World"

Sophocles' "Ode to Man" from Antigone, recited in ancient Greek: watch the video here; read about it here.

Martha Nussbaum on moral decency: "Equal Respect for Conscience: The Roots of a Moral and Legal Tradition"









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