VCCS Litonline

Epilog
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Objective for this Page: To summarize the epilog and to make sense of all the deaths.

Summary

Antigone's tombIn this section of the play, a messenger speaks of Creon and his reign, giving a brief history of how Creon came to power, prospered, and sired sons.  But "now it's lost, all gone." Creon has "squandered his true joys," for death has come upon the palace and Creon is guilty of the deaths of Antigone and Haemon.  Antigone, locked in a rocky vault, decided to end her life.  

Haemon, in an apparent attempt to save his beloved Antigone, discovered her body shortly before Creon arrived to free Antigone after burying Polynices.  In a hateful, desperate rage, Haemon swings his sword at his father, but when Creon runs from the vault Haemon turns the sword on himself and dies caressing Antigone.  All that the seer had foretold has come to pass.

On hearing this report, Eurydice flees into the palace; the chorus assumes (wrongly) that she is grieving privately, but the messenger fears for her and follows her--only to find that she has stabbed herself at the sacrificial altar.

Creon is shattered, but his actions were too late, delayed by his stubbornness.  The gods have turned away from him, and the guilt for all three deaths rests on him.  The messenger, after reporting Eurydice's suicide, observes, "Of all the ills afflicting men, worst is lack of judgment."

Commentary

In this scene, Haemon registers his ultimate disagreement with his father's notion that women are easily replaceable by demonstrating with his suicide that Antigone was not.  Ismene had asked her sister what she would do once her sister was dead; apparently, Haemon had no answer for this question for himself.  Inheriting the kingship of Thebes--power--was apparently poor consolation for the loss of his beloved.  The same seems true for Eurydice.  Only Creon lived for power, but now he has lost that.

She hangs herself because she could not endure imprisonment and because she despaired of being saved by anyone, even Haemon.  In addition, her suicide is her last act of defiance against Creon.

Study Questions

bulletAfter the deaths of Creon and Eurydice, Creon says, "I died once; you kill me again and again."  Who has killed him, and what does he mean?
bulletEurydice at her death reportedly accuses Creon of killing both her sons.  To what extent is this accusation accurate?

Assessment: Choose a study question and respond in a paragraph, citing evidence from the play to support your point(s).

Thanks to Renee Knight for contributing the summary and questions for this page.

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This instructional web was made in July, 2002, by Prof. Eric Hibbison, who is solely responsible for its content.