Antigone Characters

Who are the characters in Antigone? Find the answer here! This page prepared by Custom-Writing.org experts describes Antigone characters: Creon, Antigone, Ismene, and others. It also contains Antigone character map that presents the main characters and their connections. 

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🗺️ Antigone Character Map

Below you’ll find Antigone character map. It contains all the key characters that appear in the play and illustrates their relationships.

The picture contains Antigone character map.

The main characters in Antigone are:

👩‍🦰 Antigone The main character of the tragedy
🤴 King Creon The tragic hero
👧 Ismene Antigone’s sister, very unlike to her
👨‍🦳 Tiresias The blind prophet, a brave and honest person
🎶 The Chorus The embodiment of collective caution

👩‍🦰 Antigone

Antigone is the main character in Sophocles’ play. She has many family relations with the other characters. Her decision to bury her brother, Polynices, triggered all the tragic events in the tragedy’s plot. Antigone went against the will of her uncle, Creon, and paid for it with her life. However, it was not the end of the tragedy.

Who Is Antigone?

According to Greek mythology, Antigone is the daughter of Oedipus. Sophocles wrote a play about her based on those myths following the events after the Theban War. Like many other masterpieces of Greek literature, her story carries a special meaning and a lesson for the readers.

Antigone Character Analysis

From the very beginning of the play, Antigone is described as the opposite of her sister Ismene. It is even reflected in their appearance.

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Antigone looks more boyish, skinny, and generally not too attractive for men. Ismene, on the other hand, is quite beautiful and charming. Besides, their personalities are totally different as well. The main heroine appears to be extremely stubborn and needy. Her sister is much more obedient and sees going against men’s will as something inappropriate. The striking difference between the sisters highlights the theme of gender roles in Antigone.

During Antigone’s conflict with Creon, it is easy to see her position in the play. She never gives up on her desires. Therefore, even the threat of death cannot stop her from burying Polynices’ body according to traditions. However, Antigone’s character analysis shows that her persistence makes her character somewhat ugly and despicable. Even though the citizens are on her side, she still becomes an outcast as she goes against the law. On the other hand, there is a special kind of beauty in her tragic fate.

How Does Antigone Die?

Antigone dies tragically. After she buries the body of her brother, Polynices, Antigone’s uncle orders the guards to lock her inside the tomb alive. However, it is too late when the king realizes what a horrible mistake he made and comes to save her. He finds Antigone dead there.

Antigone’s Quotes

The quotes used in this section are taken from the translation by Ben Roy, Bliss Perry, Alejandro Quintana, Sam Puopolo, Benji Ho, and Sasha Barish.

That tortured corpse I still call Polyneices —
He shall be left unwept, unburied, a sweet treasure
For the vultures as they search for the grace of flesh.

(Antigone Prologue)

Leave me and my foolish plan
To suffer our terrible fate!
There is no punishment horrible enough
To keep me from dying a beautiful death.

(Antigone Prologue)

I didn’t think your decrees
Were strong enough to outweigh
The firm and unwritten laws of the gods.

(Antigone Scene 1)

Look at me, o citizens
Of my fatherland, as I set out
On my last journey, as I gaze upon
My last sunlight,
And never again.

(Antigone Scene 4)

If my husband had died, I could’ve found another,
And if I had lost my first child, another man could’ve fathered my second,
But with my mother and my father both sealed away in Hades,
I can never have a new brother.

(Antigone Scene 4)

🤴 King Creon

Creon is the new king of Thebes. He gets this title after his brother-in-law’s sons kill each other in the war. Creon is adamant that one of them is not worthy of a traditional burial ritual and forbids anyone to perform it. He wants to be a fair ruler, but in the end, he turns out to be wrong.

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Who is Creon in Antigone?

In Sophocles’ play, Creon appears to have the same position as the in myth. As a king of Thebes, he has the right to punish anyone who goes against his will. It happens to his niece, Antigone, who puts tradition and the gods above the man’s wish and buries the traitor’s body.

Creon Character Analysis

Creon is portrayed as a strict and practical man. He is not bound to all the feelings related to the death of Oedipus and his sons. As soon as Creon steps on the throne, he focuses on saving the political order in Thebes. The law is what matters and keeps things together, so he cannot spare Antigone’s life. Even though she could potentially become a mother to his heir, she had to cover up her crime.

However, this attitude and Antigone’s stubbornness ruined his whole family. In the end, King Creon pays for his decision at a high price and suffers in loneliness.

Creon’s Quotes from Antigone

Be my witness, all-seeing Zeus:
I would never stay silent if I saw trouble
Threatening the safety of our society.

(Antigone Scene 1)

You, sitting in the palace like a viper, lurking,
Sucking my blood dry while you went unnoticed—did I miss some sign
When I raised you two leeches, some sign that you’d be
Rebels against the throne?

(Antigone Scene 2)

Ah me! Ah me! For all my crimes
This suffering will never fix itself upon another!
Oh I killed you, I did! Oh miserable one!
I’m telling the truth!

(Antigone Exodus)

👧 Ismene

In Greek mythology, Ismene is another daughter of Oedipus. When her sister, Antigone, wants to bury their brother’s body against the will of Creon, Ismene refuses to help. She is entirely devoted to the laws and the king, so she tries to talk her sister out of becoming a rebel. However, she finally lets Antigone go.

Go on then, if you think it best—you’re a fool
To go, but your loved ones still love you.

(Antigone Prologue)

Who is Ismene in Antigone?

In Antigone, Ismene is Antigone’s sister. However, despite the blood relation, she stays loyal to the order and does not agree to help her sister break the law. However, in the end, Ismene changes her mind and asks Creon to punish her as well. It shows how persuasive Antigone can be.

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Ismene Character Traits

Ismene is shown as an incredible beauty. Unlike her sister, she is outgoing and seems to be the good girl in their family. Ismene always follows the rules even when relatives are involved. She knows her place and would never go against men’s will. However, Antigone manages to touch her heart.

Which Archetype Does Ismene Best Represent?

It would be safe to say that Ismene represents loyalty. In the play, she remains on the side of Creon’s order. She respects her country and the laws that are established there. When she chooses between her sister and her uncle’s rules, she prefers not to become an outcast and refuses to help Antigone.

👨‍🦳 Tiresias

According to Greek mythology, Tiresias is a blind prophet in Thebes. He is famous for his transformation into a woman as well. He comes to Creon to warn him about the gods’ will in an attempt to talk him out of his decision.

When a man does wrong, if he makes amends
And moves forward after his mistake,
He is no longer unwise or unblessed—
But your stubbornness has made you clumsy!

(Antigone Scene 5)

Even though his words are hard to believe and his predictions are horrifying, he stands for his words. There are no compromises. Tiresias is devoted to the truth. It may even seem like the prophet is one of the most powerful characters of Antigone. Creon rejects his predictions and even threatens him, but it is not the first time Tiresias faces insults. He knows that he has the gods’ protection.

🎶 The Chorus

The Chorus is represented in the play as a narrative side. The prologue and epilogue are given by the Chorus in Antigone as well. Those comments, which appear during the turning points, create a tragic atmosphere since they reference historical moments, moral values, and the key themes of the play.

Destiny has a certain terrible power:
Nothing—neither wealth, nor Ares,
Nor lofty heights, nor dark sea-tossed ships—
Can ward off its grasp.

(Antigone Ode 4)

Throughout the play, the chants and songs show the right direction for the audience. Sophocles enforces a certain kind of perspective through them. The leader of the Chorus in Antigone even tries to interfere with the event a few times. One of those scenes is when Creon finally changes his mind and rushes to save Antigone.

🎭 Minor Characters

Eurydice

In Antigone, Eurydice is Creon’s wife. The only thing she has been doing is knitting in her room. She gets desperate when she finds out the news about Haemon’s death. The queen blames her husband for everything that happened. However, he cannot carry her grief for too long. Eurydice decides to take her own life.

At the altar, with a sharp-edged sword,
She hacked until her black eyes shut…
And with her last breath she sang
Curses upon you as a child-killer.

(Antigone Exodus)

Haemon

Haemon, Antigone’s future husband and Creon’s son, has a hard time accepting his father’s decision. He tries to talk the king out of this idea and spare Antigone’s life since even the people do not support it. In the end, when Haemon sees his fiancé’s dead body, he goes so mad that he tries to kill Creon but ends up committing suicide.

Polynices

Polynices does not appear as a living character in Antigone. He was one of the sons of Oedipus and wanted to take the throne. Polynices tried to win Thebes with force but ended up losing. He and his brother, Eteocles, killed each other in that war. However, considered a traitor, Polynices was not supposed to be buried.

Eteocles

Eteocles was another son of Oedipus. He was on the throne when his brother, Polynices, decided to take his place. Eteocles protected Thebes and won the war, but he lost his life. As a result, both brothers were dead. However, since the king took Eteocles’ side, he allowed a traditional burial for him.

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