The Case For Antigone By Sophocles

The Case For Antigone By Sophocles


Issues pertaining to the law and the capacity of individuals to follow them have been contentious since time immemorial. Indeed, there has been contention over whether individuals should follow every other law and fail to question it irrespective of how draconian it seems. Needless to say, literature has come in handy in underlining the issues that may be wrong with the society within which its composers live, as well as outlining the features that an ideal world would take. This is the case for Antigone by Sophocles. Indeed, philosophers have come up with varied theories on how human beings should conduct themselves, as is the case for Confucius.

Why Creone would be guilty according to Confucius.

In “Antigone”, Creone was responsible for the death of Antigone, who had defied the King’s decree and chosen to give her brother a decent burial. However, this law was one of the draconian decrees that Creone had made in an effort to contain any push for a rebellion in the country. Confucius underlines the duty and responsibility of individuals to maintain and respect family hierarchy, which is one of the things that Creone did not do (Rainey et al, 2010). He failed to recognize the fact that Antigone is tied to her brother Polyneices by the bonds of familial love, which all individuals are required to respect at all times, at least according to Confucius.

In addition, Confucius would hold Creone guilty on the basis of the fact that his pride allowed him to disrespect the laws of the gods (Rainey et al, 2010). Indeed, Creone was so strong-headed that he could not allow his decisions, however irrational or draconian, to be changed. When talking to Teiresias, Creone opines that he is paid off and is unwilling to believe that he may have been wrong about Antigone. Indeed, he states “Whatever you say, you will not change my will” and underlines his superiority by stating that “The state is King”. This, undoubtedly, amounts to disrespect of the gods as it shows that he thinks he is way better than the gods.

Why Creone is not guilty.

While Confucius may hold the opinion that Creone is guilty, his teaches would also insinuate that he acted appropriately. First, it is worth noting that Antigone was deliberately defying the law set by the King. Indeed, she was well aware of the law, as well as the consequences that would befall any person that defied them (Rosenfield & Charles, 2010). This, undoubtedly, shows lack of respect not only for Creone himself, but also for the “government hierarchy”, which is underlined by Confucius.

In addition, Creone should not be held solely responsible for the death of Antigone, especially considering that he simply put her in the gallows and even went to check on her when he realized his mistake (Rosenfield & Charles, 2010). Indeed, Antigone made the decision to commit suicide and could have come out of the gallows alive if only she had waited a little longer. This shows that Antigone did not respect or even recognize the divinity that resided in herself, in which case she, and not Creone, should solely be held responsible for her death.

Confucius’ verdict

Confucius would still have seen Creone as guilty. This verdict is based on the fact that while Antigone may have committed suicide and caused her own death, her actions were simply a symptom of bad decisions pertaining to governance that Creone had made. Indeed, she may have been spared if only Creone showed some respect for the gods and familial authority or bonds.


Rosenfield, K, H & Charles B. D (2010). Antigone: Sophocles’ Art, Hölderlin’s Insight. Aurora, CO: The Davies Group, Publishers.

Rainey, L. D., & Wiley InterScience (Online service). (2010). Confucius & Confucianism: The essentials. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell.