Каминяр Дмитрий Генаддьевич: другие произведения.

The Development, Imagery, and Themes in the Stasimon

"Самиздат": [Регистрация] [Найти] [Рейтинги] [Обсуждения] [Новинки] [Обзоры] [Помощь|Техвопросы]
Конкурсы романов на Author.Today
Творчество как воздух: VK, Telegram
 Ваша оценка:

Writing Assignment #1

Dmitri Kaminiar

David Galbraith

Monday, October 16, 2006

The development, the imagery, and the themes

In "Antigones" stasimon

The play "Antigone" is actually dealing with the ambiguous matter of life and death; however, the stasimon is also foreshadowing the confrontation between Creon and Antigone that is going to occur soon afterwards, and the tragic events that follow that confrontation. Consequently, the first stasimon of Sophocles play "Antigone" talks about greatness of humankind, all the obstacles it surpasses, and all the wondrous things it has done by the time that Sophocles wrote the play. It shows these facts by its imagery and the themes it develops in order to facilitate the plays development.

Before the stasimon, though, king Creon forbade burying one of Antigones brothers, Polynices, because the latter participated in the assault of the Seven against Thebes Sophocles, Antigone. (The Three Theban Plays) (New York Penguin Books 1984) (Antigone, 221-31), and that is where the theme of death comes in: Creon refuses the rights of burial to Polynices, because he and other Thebans consider Polynices a traitor. However, in refusing to bury Polynices, Creon broke the unspoken divine law, which can be considered hubris (namely a demonstration of unnecessary arrogance and pride in face of the gods), and as any ancient Greek (especially the ones who knew Oedipus and his reign in Thebes) can testify, the gods ways are mysterious and often cruel to mortals.

The stasimon itself also hints regarding the reign of Oedipus and the misery that eventually came from that reign, especially in the following lines - "... the city casts out/that man who weds himself to inhumanity/thanks to reckless daring. Never share my hearth/never think my thoughts, whoever does such things." (413-17) As a hint, this one is particularly nasty: reminding the audience about the late king Oedipus, who "wed himself to inhumanity" by his actions, and then cast himself out when he realized how monstrous his actions were. However, it may also hint that either Creon, or Antigone, or both of them, also may do something so foolish due to their pride, that nothing but trouble and evil will come out of it (and evil does), because each is right in their own way, but neither will admit to the others alternative due to their natures.

However, the stasimons content is not completely negative, even though it ends apparently with a rather pessimistic note, as "man ... forges on, now to destruction, now again to greatness." (406-10) This ambiguity is a characteristic of the leading characters of the play as well; after all, the play "Antigone" practically centers on their conflict - in the play's beginning it is the body and soul of it, though in the latter part "Antigone" moves away from the clash of Antigone and Creon to the darker themes of life and death. "... From Death alone he will find no recluse" (404) the stasimon said, talking about humanity in general, meaning that even people could not escape death for all their great achievements. However, while Antigone and Creon brought a great deal of misery, pain, and bad fortune upon their families by their actions, these same actions gave them an immortality of sorts, for the written play "Antigone" is a victory over death in the sense "obscurity", like in the Shakespearean sonnet #63.

As the play will progress towards its end, this ambiguity will continue to be there: on one hand, death actually gets a lot more than it originally "expected", for Antigone and Eurydice hang themselves, while Haemon falls on his sword. However, on the other hand, people remember Antigone, Creon, and others for far longer time than otherwise, if this whole tragedy has never happened. Thus with Sophocles "assistance", Antigone proves the Chorus and Creon wrong. As a result, in the play one can see both destruction and greatness (408-9), both made possible by the same people.

In fact, the beginning of this ambiguity of human situation appears as early in the play, as in the stasimon. "Ready, resourceful man!/Never without resources/never an impasse as he marches on the future" the stasimon says some lines earlier (401-3) before turning to death. (Since Antigone, Creon, and the rest "came" to our times via the play, one may feel that the Chorus is onto something here.) The "difference of opinions" between Creon and Antigone resulted in deaths of Antigone, Haemon, and Eurydice; resulted in the eventual destruction of Thebes (by the Epigoni, the descendants of Polynices and his compatriots Sophocles, Antigone. (The Three Theban Plays) (New York Penguin Books (1984)) (pg. 404). Yet, it also resulted in greatness, for hundreds and thousands of years after the Thebes of Antigone and Creon fell, we remember them, and the play itself as well as.

The stasimons imagery supports how it helps the play develop. The initial image of the stasimon is that of the insignificant-looking man, almost tiny in comparison with the sea and earth - "the heaving gray sea," "the Earth, the immortal, the inexhaustible" (379, 383) - besting and defeating them, no matter how much the odds are apparently not in his favor. Yet, with "... his steady course" (381) he slowly but surely is getting the best of his inhuman adversaries, even if just little by little.

Then there is the description of the humanity being "the skilled, the brilliant!" (390) The stasimon tells how man captures the birds of air, the beasts of land, and the fish of sea (386-87); domesticates the stallion (the horse) and the mountain bull (cattle). Can humans consider themselves "brilliant", as in "talented"? Since the stasimon talks about domestication of animals, man is brilliant for domesticating them, as no living creature before him managed to domesticate and make other animals willingly serve it One of course may consider the "ant farms" of aphids and similar insects, but at the time of Sophocles, this probably was unknown.. Same goes for creating such things as the laws that govern his society or houses to protect himself against the elements - man is rightfully called ready and resourceful (401) for devising such inventions.. The only thing left with which he cannot do anything about is death. That brings the readers or the audience back to the main body of the play and a question of just what power death possesses over people. (Death and/or Hades, god of death and the underworld, quite often mentioned in the course of the play.)

The themes in the stasimon and the play follow up the imagery and the stasimons themes. The stasimon starts talking with how man started by working on the soil and traveling the seas, and ends with man making cities and laws that govern human lives. Moreover, laws are one of the main themes of "Antigone", not in the least because unlike other things mentioned in the stasimon, laws and man affected each other, it is not just a one-way relationship unlike other inventions of humanity. The mention of creation of cities is important as well, for otherwise Sophocles would not write "Antigone" and its sequels to begin with, for they are the Theban plays, and Thebes is a city. (Not to mention that to Sophocles and his contemporaries, living in Greek city-states, cities equalized civilization in a big way.)

Getting back to the laws, it is probably reasonable to believe that the Chorus hints in the stasimons end that people are distinguished by laws from any sort of seemingly social animals (bees, birds, dogs, etc), and that it also works both ways - just as people make and break laws, the laws can make and break people. All of the abovementioned happens in "Antigone". Antigone and Creon argue about different laws before the audience; both of them break those different laws (at least in the eyes of each other), and both are punished by those different laws in the end. Such is the power, the effect, of fate.

"The ode ends with a warning that mans energy and resourcefulness may lead him to destruction as well as greatness." Sophocles, Antigone. (The Three Theban Plays) (New York Penguin Books 1984) (pg. 397) However, the play may not show clearly the resourcefulness part to the readers, especially if you discount Creons vicious streak as justified: it may look like Antigone has provoked him with her behavior (that is partially true too)... On the other hand, Antigone showed at least some resourcefulness when dealing with Polynices forbidden burial.

However, there is no question about energy - Antigone is practically full of energy as indicated by her passionate speeches, and Creon also possesses a lot of motivation; too bad, the same cannot be said about his reasoning and common sense. Because of that lack of reasoning and common sense, as well as the excess of pride, Creons motivation or energy leave him hollow, morally emptied out by the twin suicides of his last son and wife. Antigone too, by refusing to accept any compromises, shows the lack of common sense and excess of pride. Because of that she dies, entombed alive for her troubles, punished for keeping a holy law rather than breaking it. (Creon, of course, receives punishment for breaking the same law.) In either case, though, the initial statement rings true - man has the potential for both self-destruction and self-greatness.

Finally, there is the theme of the matter of death and life. Antigone's referrals to Persephone, who was brought alive to the Underworld, and to Niobe, who eventually got entombed (or turned to stone) alive, show that Antigone possesses a reasonable idea of what she is risking when Creon threatens and carries true on his promise to her. For his part, Creon comes out more like a monster than the wise ruler he boasts to the Chorus and the audience to be at the beginning of the play. Thus, there are not only politics gone ugly in the center of "Antigone", but also the triumph of Antigone's energy and convictions, her dedication to her cause - unlike in case of Creon (though in Creon's case that may actually be a good thing).

Overall though, to say that this stasimon actually summarizes the play would be excessive, but what it does, is the introduction (or rather re-introduction) of the main theme - what makes man so great. The stasimon does this "introduction" in a roundabout way, by talking about mans overall history and at the same time driving across the main point of the play itself: man can both make and break himself, assisted (or impeded) by the laws that he invented first. (409-14) The problem is that not just humans made laws, but also gods, and what is more is that apparently the human laws are less important than the divine ones. (Later "Antigone" solves this problem by having divine and human laws treat the same way a proper human burial as opposed to Polynices fate in death.) Creon, in his hubris, decides to break both sets of laws in favor of his own decision, and pays for that choice. Antigone, consequently, pays for breaking human/Creon's laws in favor of the divine ones, and that for these actions, the gods do not save her (but Death/Hades was a rather grim and unkind deity, not prone to kind gestures), is something to think about as well.

Thus, ever since the times of the ancient Thebes, the ambiguity of the human nature and human laws lives on, and no one, since Sophocles, was better able to make that point.


Fagles, Robert. Antigone (The Three Theban Plays), New York Penguin Books, 1984

 Ваша оценка:

Связаться с программистом сайта.

Новые книги авторов СИ, вышедшие из печати:
Э.Бланк "Пленница чужого мира" О.Копылова "Невеста звездного принца" А.Позин "Меч Тамерлана.Крестьянский сын,дворянская дочь"

Как попасть в этoт список
Сайт - "Художники" .. || .. Доска об'явлений "Книги"