Sophocles' play "Antigone" illustrates the conflict between obeying human and divine law. The play opens after Oedipus' two sons Eteocles and Polyneices have killed each other in a civil war for the throne of Thebes. Oedipus' brother in law Creon then assumes the throne. He dictates that Eteocles shall receive a state funeral and honors, while Polyneices shall be left in the streets to rot away. Creon believes that Polyneices' body shall be condemned to this because of his civil disobedience and treachery against the city. Polyneices' sister, Antigone, upon hearing this exclaims that an improper burial for Polyneices would be an insult to the Gods. She vows that Polyneices' body will be buried, and Creon declares that anyone who interferes with his body shall be punished. This is where the conflict begins. Thus the theme of this play becomes the priority of unwritten law. The question is whether duties to the gods are more essential then obedience of the state and law. Creon calls the rotting of Polyneices' body an "obscenity"because he believes that burial of the dead is a necessity of human law and not of a citizen. . There is no compromise between the two – both believe in the absolute truth of their obedience.
Antigonebelieves that the unwritten and natural law supercedes any form of human written law. Honor and a principled responsibility to gods and family are given equal weight in her self-defense. She says that she fears, not men’s condemnation, but penalties from the gods if she does not actThe painful evils that beset her life (the loss of mother, father, and brothers) make death a gain in her eyes By contrast, if she had left her mother’s son unburied, she would have grievedShe expects to win glory for her gesture to the gods. Antigone displays the characteristic trait of pride in the way she justifies and carries out her decisions. She is obstinate in h…

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