Antigone in Greek mythology means "against man". This literal translation fits Antigone's personality exactly. Antigone rebels against the laws of her kingdom in order to ensure her deceased brother a peaceful afterlife by the gods. Her uncle, the king, Creon refuses to abide by the god's rules and dictate his own.
Creon admits he was wrong and is completely guilty for the three deaths. He is left with only one surviving family member and no one to look to for support, praying only for death to come swiftly.
Creon returns to the palace bearing the body of his son. He is grief-stricken over the results of his own stubbornness. He then learns that Eurydice has also taken her own life. Creon begins to rave, calling himself a rash, foolish man whose life has been overwhelmed by death.
Creon, for one, does not care which was which, so long as the burial serves his political purpose. In accepting the throne, Creon agrees to accept matters as they are, not as they should be. Antigone, in refusing Creon’s pragmatic offer of compromise, in effect refuses to accept things as they are, insisting rather on how they should be. She forces Creon to proceed with her execution. Although at the last minute she seems to doubt her resolve, she ultimately allows herself to be thrown in a pit, where she hangs herself with her belt. She is soon joined by Haemon, who, keeping Creon at bay with his sword, lies down beside her and stabs himself to death. Haemon’s mother, Creon’s wife Eurydice, dies a similar death upon learning what has happened to her son. Creon is thus left alone to look after his kingdom, attended by the guards and soldiers who had arrested Antigone.
As anticipated as Antigone was to die, she had a moment of realization that she will never get married or have kids in order to live out her life fully. Once she is locked into a pit, Antigone decides she might as well kill herself before she gives Creon the chance to do so. Antigone's death became a cataclysmic event resolving in all of Creon's loved ones commiting suicide.
We can make the formulation of the conflict more precise, however. Rather than a conflict of religion and politics, we can see a conflict of two types of religion within a political context. Antigone appeals to an ancient family-centered religion, while Creon appeals to a civic religion, the gods of Thebes (285). Civic religion is the norm in urban ancient world; festivals such as the Panathenaea in Athens were a combination of the 4th of July and Christmas, religious and political at the same time.
Antigone states that she acted alone, absolving her sister of guilt. Ismene pleads for Antigone's life, reminding the king that not only is his prisoner family (Antigone is Creon's niece), she is also betrothed to his son, Haemon. Despite this, Creon will not reverse his judgement.
Antigone, fully aware of the consequences of her deed, has already buried Polynices and is preparing herself for death, gradually separating herself from Creon’s son Haemon, from her sister Ismène, from the elderly nursemaid who has cared for her since childhood, and even from her dog, to be left in the nursemaid’s care. Creon, upon learning from his guards that Polynices has been buried, at first suspects political subversives but soon is forced to accept the fact of Antigone’s guilt. Ever the pragmatic politician, Creon considers trying to cover up Antigone’s crime, knowing the political troubles that will result from her martyrdom. Creon is prepared to have the guards who know of Antigone’s guilt put to death in order to ensure their silence. Antigone, however, brought face-to-face with her uncle, refuses to participate in a cover-up. She will not remain silent about her actions, insisting on her right to give her kin proper burial, even if the punishment she faces for doing so is death.
The character Antigone takes on a very dynamic and interesting role by displaying many strong personality traits and holding tightly to her personal convictions. With a powerful affinity for the dark world of the dead, this woman proves her allegiance first to the divine institutions of the gods, rather than to the mortal institutions of man.
Positive mistreatment of the defeated's corpse was dangerous, as it could anger the gods. Traitors, however, like Polynices, were a special case. Not only were the victors under no obligation to bury them, it was forbidden that they be buried in the betrayed city. Thus had Creon simply put Polynices' body outside the city, and forbidden that he be buried inside the city, he would have been within tradition. He only overreaches by forbidding any burial whatsoever.
Before the beginning of the story, two brothers leading opposite sides in Thebes' civil war died fighting each other for the throne. Creon, the new ruler of Thebes, has decided that Eteocles will be honored and Polyneices will be in public shame. The rebel brother's body will not be sanctified by holy rites, and will lie unburied on the battlefield, prey for carrion animals like worms and vultures, the harshest punishment at the time.
Antigone (Greek: Ἀντιγόνη) is a tragedy by Sophocles written before or in 442 BC. Chronologically, it is the third of the three Theban plays but was written first. The play expands on the Theban legend that predated it and picks up where Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes ends.