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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
This article is about the daughter of Oedipus. For the daughter of Eurytion, see Antigone (daughter of Eurytion). For the play by Sophocles, see Antigone (Sophocles). For other uses, see Antigone (disambiguation).

Antigone (Ἀντιγόνη) is the name of two different women in Greek mythology. The name may be taken to mean "unbending", coming from "anti-" (against, opposed to) and "-gon / -gony" (corner, bend, angle; ex: polygon), but has also been suggested to mean "opposed to motherhood" or "in place of a mother" based from the root gonē, "that which generates" (related: gonos, "-gony"; seed, semen).

Classical depictions

Antigone is a daughter of the accidentally incestuous marriage between King Oedipus of Thebes and his mother Jocasta. She is the subject of a popular story in which she attempts to secure a respectable burial for her brother Polyneices, even though he was a traitor to Thebes and the law forbids even mourning for him, on pain of death.

In the oldest version of the story, the funeral of Polyneices takes place during Oedipus's reign in Thebes. However, in the best-known versions, Sophocles's tragedies Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, it occurs in the years after Oedipus's banishment and death, and Antigone has to struggle against Creon. Sophocles' Antigone ends in disaster, with Antigone hanging herself after being walled up, and Creon's son Haemon (or Haimon), who loved Antigone, kills himself after finding her body. (Also see Oedipus for a variant of this story.) Queen Eurydice, wife of King Creon, also kills herself at the end of the story due to seeing such actions allowed by her husband. She had been forced to knit throughout the entire story and her death alludes to Greek Mythology's 3 Fates.

The dramatist Euripides also wrote a play called Antigone, which is lost, but some of the text was preserved by later writers and in passages in his Phoenissae. In Euripides, the calamity is averted by the intercession of Dionysus and is followed by the marriage of Antigone and Haemon.

Different elements of the legend appear in other places. A description of an ancient painting by Philostratus (Imagines ii. 29) refers to Antigone placing the body of Polyneices on the funeral pyre, and this is also depicted on a sarcophagus in the Villa Doria Pamphili in Rome. And in Hyginus' version of the legend, founded apparently on a tragedy by some follower of Euripides, Antigone, on being handed over by Creon to her lover Haemon to be slain, is secretly carried off by him and concealed in a shepherd's hut, where she bears him a son, Maeon. When the boy grows up, he attends some funeral games at Thebes, and is recognized by the mark of a dragon on his body. This leads to the discovery that Antigone is still alive. The demi-god Heracles then intercedes, pleading in vain with Creon for Haemon, who slew himself after finding Antigone's corpse. This intercession by Heracles is also represented on a painted vase. (Heydermann, Über eine nacheuripideische Antigone, 1868).


The story of Antigone has been a popular subject for books, plays, and other works, including:

Bertolt Brecht composed an adaptation, Antigone, which was based on the translation by Friedrich Hölderlin and was published under the title Antigonemodell 1948.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Antigone" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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