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Stasimon 3
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Objective for this Page: To summarize and comment upon the chorusís and Antigoneís reaction to her fate.

Summary

This choral passage is basically a dialogue, even a debate, between the elders of Thebes and Antigone, whom Creon is condemning to death.

The chorus laments that Love, personified by the goddess Aphrodite, overcomes everyone.  Haemon is undone by love and so love has driven a wedge between father and son, to the detriment of Thebes.

Antigone wails about her dying without marriage, so she must be "married" to the underworld, the dead, whose rights she has defended.the mask of Oedipus for the Northcott Theatre production in 1998

The chorus states Antigone's living death, and she compares herself to others who were condemned to similar fates.  The chorus apparently tries to comfort Antigone by noting that she is a mere mortal who suffers a destiny similar to a goddess's, but Antigone claims they are mocking her, siding with a king who has made an unjust law. She feels out of place on earth and in the afterlife.

The chorus, climaxing this segment of poetry, suggests that Antigone's fate is due to the curse on her father.  Antigone upbraids them for making that taunt.  The chorus blames her pride, her passion, for causing her to defy Creon.  Antigone laments that she will never see another dawn and that no one will mourn her. (Photo: Richard Wills Cotton as Oedipus in the Northcott Theatre Production of Seneca's play about Antigone's father and half-brother performed in Exeter, England, in 1998.)

Commentary

This section reminds the audience of Antigone's connection to the tragic Oedipus, who seems to be dead in the timeline of this play.  Antigone's grief, though genuine, also seems self-centered, so that she, like her father, mixes higher motives (duty to the dead) with lower concerns (herself). During open discussion, David Hartley pointed out that Haemon had probably never stood up to Creon before and that Antigone was not on stage when Haemon and Creon had their confrontation, so she seems reasonable to despair of aid and of being mourned.

Study Questions

bulletWhy is this section a pivotal part of the story?  What key facts does this section give the reader?
bulletWhat is the significance of the monologue on love stated by the chorus in lines 880 to 895?  What does this show us about the characters involved?  Is it a foreshadowing?
bulletHow is Antigone like and not like her father?  Oedipus was a strange mixture of arrogance and altruism: He figured he had thwarted prophecy simply by leaving the town where he was raised (not knowing that he was adopted).  He strove diligently to save Thebes from a plague by tracking down the murderer of former king Laius (his father), and did follow the punishment that he had set for the murderer--exile.  To what extent, then, is Antigone acting for Polynices and to what extent is she simply defying Creon or making herself a martyr, perhaps to overcome the shame, finally, of being the daughter (and half-sister) of incestuous Oedipus?  

For help with this question, consider the last paragraph of Mary Lefkowitz's analysis of the play for the American Repertory Theater.

The content of this page is largely thanks to Megan Robinson.

Robin Tuck read up on Niobe and found the following: 

Niobe, Queen of Thebes, had 12 or 14 children.  The two web sites I found contradict how many children she had.  The story goes that the townspeople would come and worship Leto, who had two children.  Niobe angered by the people told the townspeople to worship her as she had 14 children and Leto had only two.  Leto, angered by Niobe's "pride" and insults (to Leto), ordered her two sons Artemis and Apollo to go kill Niobe's 7 sons.  In this battle all of Niobe's boys were killed and Artemis died by the arrow of Apollo (accidentally).  Niobe continued to boast that she still had more children than Leto.  So Leto then ordered Apollo to kill Niobe's seven daughters.  Apollo killed six of Niobe's daughters when Niobe fell over her daughter begging forgiveness of the Goddess Leto to spare her only child's life.  Her daughter died.  Niobe's grief was so much to bear that she did not move or make a sound. The only sign of life was her never-ending flow of tears.  The gods had punished her for her pride and to this day there is a rock in Thebes that is wet with tears.  That rock is what Niobe became after displeasing an immortal. 

I wonder if this is why they put Antigone in a tomb of stone which was symbolic of Niobe's death.  Niobe's pride lost her life; did pride also kill Antigone?  I think Sophocles intentionally placed this analogy so the reader could compare Antigone's death to Niobe's.
 

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

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