Essential Questions in Antigone
Essential Question Lines that address EQ Explain how those lines address the EQ
(write lines out with #’s)1. How do our moral and social values shape our interactions with others? / “There you have it. You’ll soon show what you are, worth your breeding, Ismene, or a coward—for all your royal blood” – Antigone
(43-45) / Antigone values giving her brother a proper burial. She believes it is both morally and socially wrong not to honor the dead. But her strong values here are causing her to insult her sister, who is scared to break Creon’s law. Her values are putting a strain on her and her sister’s interactions and their relationship.
2. Do human beings have an obligation to be disobedient when laws go against our moral conscience? / Line(s):
Essential Question Lines that address EQ Explain how those lines address the EQ3. What does our response to conflict teach us about ourselves? / Line(s):
4. To what extent are we defined by our actions? / Line(s):
SHORT ANSWER STUDY GUIDE QUESTIONS
Prologue and Parodos:
1. How are Antigone and Ismene related?
2. Who are the two brothers mentioned in the prologue?
3. How did the two brothers die?
4. What is King Creon’s decree?
5. What does Antigone plan to do?
6. What is Ismene’s decision regarding the King’s decree?
7. What does the Choragos compare Polyneices to in the Parodos?
8. What city has “seven gates in a yawning ring”?
9. What does the Chorus compare Thebes to?
10. According to the Choragos, what does God hate?
Scene 1 and Ode 1:
1. Who is the new King of Thebes?
2. How did the new King of Thebes claim heir to the throne?
3. What crime has Polyneices committed in the opinion of the king?
4. What news does the sentry bring to Creon?
5. How was it decided which of the sentries would bring the news about Polyneices to Creon?
6. How does Creon believe the act of burying Polyneices was carried out?
7. What does Creon demand that the sentry do?
8. According to Ode 1, what is the most wonderful of all the world’s wonders?
9. Of all the winds, man has made himself secure against all except one. Which wind is that?
10. List man’s accomplishments according to Ode 1.
Scene 2 and Ode 2:
1. Who has the sentry captured and brought before King Creon?
2. How did the guards manage to capture Antigone?
3. How did Antigone react to being captured by the sentries?
4. What reason does Antigone give for defying Creon’s decree?
5. Who else does Creon have arrested in connection with the crime of burying Polyneices?
6. Why is Antigone angry with Ismene?
7. Besides being Antigone’s uncle, how else were Creon and Antigone related?
8. What is to be Antigone’s punishment for burying her brother?
9. According to Ode 2, who is the fortunate man?
10. Who is the god who must not be made angry, according to Ode 2?
Scene 3 and Ode 3:
1. What is Haimon’s initial response when his father asks how he feels about the king’s decision to execute Antigone?
2. What does Creon say that men pray for?
3. Why is Creon intent on harshly punishing all those who break the law, even family members?
4. What does Haimon claim is God’s crowning gift to man?
5. What does Haimon tell King Creon about the people of Thebes’ allegiance to him?
6. Whose point, King Creon’s or Haimon’s, does the Choragos support?
7. How does the city feel about Antigone’s crime?
8. While Creon is ranting at his son, what does the king threaten to do?
9. Describe Creon’s death sentence for Antigone.
10. According to Ode 3, what is it that “even the pure Immortals cannot escape”?
Scene 4 and Ode 4:
1. Whose fate does Antigone compare to her own?
2. What does Antigone beg the people of Thebes to bear witness to?
3. Who does Antigone blame for her terrible misfortune?
4. According to the chorus, what is considered a virtue?
5. What does Creon sarcastically say would have man singing forever?
6. According to Ode 4, who was locked away in a brazen vault?
7. Who came to the princess while she was locked away?
8. Who “bore the gods’ prisoning anger for his pride”?
9. What is the “half remembered tale of horror” that old men tell?
10. Who, as a child, had “raced with young colts on the glittering hills/And walked
untrammeled in open light”?
1. Who is the blind prophet who comes to speak to King Creon?
2. What does the prophet claim that he heard which frightened him?
3. What happened when the prophet began “the rites of burnt-offering at the altar”?
4. What does the prophet claim to be the cause of the gods’ reaction to their offerings?
5. What does the prophet claim can be done to repair the evil performed against the gods?
6. What is King Creon’s reaction to Teiresias’ message?
7. What is it that Creon claims all prophets love?
8. What warning does Teiresias give to King Creon if he refuses to heed the prophesies?
9. What advice does the Choragos give King Creon once Teiresias leaves?
10. How does King Creon react to the advice of the Choragos?
Paean and Exodos:
1. The Choragos and the Chorus pray to a “God of many names.” What are some of these
2. Who does the messenger claim is “a walking dead man”?
3. How has Teiresias’ prophecy that Creon would pay to the gods “flesh of [his] own flesh” come true?
4. Who is Eurydice?
5. What were Creon and the messenger doing when they prayed to Hecate and Pluto?
6. What did King Creon and the messenger do as soon as they finished their tasks regarding Polyneices?
7. Describe what Creon saw when he looked through the crevice into Antigone’s tomb.
8. Describe Haimon’s reaction when Creon entered Antigone’s tomb.
9. What happened after the messenger relayed the news about Haimon and Antigone to
10. What does the Choragos claim is “always punished” by the gods?
11. To what extent do Creon and Antigone control their own fates?
12. Are Creon and Antigone the victims of the whims of the gods, or are their actions the result of their own free will? Explain.
13. In what ways are Creon and Antigone similar? Different?
14. In what ways is Antigone a threat to Creon?
15. What is the major theme of the play?
Czeslaw Milosz’s poem “In Winter”
What are you doing here, poet, on the ruins
Of St. John's Cathedral this sunny
Day in spring?
What are you thinking here, where the wind
Blowing from the Vistula scatters
The red dust of the rubble?
You swore never to be
A ritual mourner.
You swore never to touch
The deep wounds of your nation
So you would not make them holy
With the accursed holiness that pursues
Descendants for many centuries.
But the lament of Antigone
Searching for her brother
Is indeed beyond the power
Of endurance. And the heart
Is a stone in which is enclosed,
Like an insect, the dark love
Of a most unhappy land.
I did not want to love so.
That was not my design.
I did not want to pity so.
That was not my design.
My pen is lighter
Than a hummingbird's feather. This burden
Is too much for it to bear.
How can I live in this country
Where the foot knocks against
The unburied bones of kin?
I hear voices, see smiles. I cannot
Write anything; five hands
Seize my pen and order me to write
The story of their lives and deaths.
Was I born to become
a ritual mourner?
I want to sing of festivities,
The greenwood into which Shakespeare
Often took me. Leave
To poets a moment of happiness,
Otherwise your world will perish.
It's madness to live without joy
And to repeat to the dead
Whose part was to be gladness
Of action in thought and in the flesh, singing, feasts
Only the two salvaged words:
Truth and justice.
What picture of Antigone is created in this poem?
Whose attitude toward life do you think is more positive, Antigone’s or Ismene’s?
Whose is more realistic and why?
What points about the hardships and horrors experienced by Hungarians during the 1940’s does Milosz make in the poem?
Why do you think Milosz used the ancient legend about Antigone in a poem dedicated to Hungarian workers, students, and soldiers in 1949?
Are they victims of the whims of the gods, or are their actions the result of their own free will?
Essay Assignment: Choose one of the two questions and then write a full essay addressing it, using quotes and citing any other sources used properly using parenthetical citation.
- How does the character of Creon from Sophocles’ Antigone—a “man of simplicity and banal happiness”—reflect conflicting motivations of political and social order through his decision to sentence Antigone to death in the classical tragedy? Articulate how Creon’s commitment to acts he finds loathsome and Antigone's insistence on facing the power of the state both advance the plot of this tragedy and develop themes. Support your statements with examples and quotations from the play.
- Write a response to literature in which you analyze the nature of Creon's and Antigone’s tragic flaw. Identify errors in judgment or weaknesses in character and indicate how this flaw brings about death and affects all of Theban society. Who better fits the definition of a tragic hero, Antigone or Creon? Support your statements with examples and quotations from the play.