Essay: Strategic Fate of Antigone
King Creon’s decision to bury Antigone alive and not to bury the dead body of Polyneices angered the gods. The gods found Creon guilty of double religious offense and sentenced to punish him with a “corpse in exchange for a corpse!” (Sophocles 1033). The death of Creon’s son and then of his wife, was the deliverance of the gods’ punishment onto Creon. Creon was punished by the gods because he established his law of human nature superior to that of divine law. Even if Creon is a king, he has no authority to neither go against divine law nor seize anyone’s right to religious freedom.
On greater scale however, Sophocles wants to point out that not even the king has the right to sentence his pupils to death penalty, especially onto those who act in accordance with the gods. One cannot fail to observe that the death penalty awarded to Antigone is against the will of the gods that Creon is already warned.
The death penalty takes away a person’s right to life, but who has the right to decide whether life should be taken? In Antigone, Sophocles criticizes Athens’s common practice of punishment by death penalty, through the tragic fate of Antigone. Sophocles is outraged by the fact that a tyrant can easily take away one’s life. If Athens is a democratic state, there should be a democratic way to go about sentencing one to death penalty, perhaps by a fair trial. Sophocles raises the question in his play: should the death exist in a democratic state? If it should, then what crimes should be punishable by it? Certainly no for the proper burial of a family member! The right to life is our ultimate civil right and it should not be taken away as easily as Antigone’s was.