From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

"It is just, though forbidden, to bury Polynices, as being naturally just" [ Aristotle, Rhetoric ]: these words, in Aristotle's view, implied the supremacy of general laws over particular laws, of allegiance towards humankind over allegiance towards a particular community, of distance over closeness. But as Aristotle himself remarked, both distance and closeness are ambivalent concepts; moreover, they are submitted to temporal and spatial constraints. As we have seen, distance, if pushed to an extreme, can generate a total lack of compassion for our fellow humans. We may ask, How can we trace the boundary between distance and extreme distance? Or, to put it in another way, What are the historical limits of an alleged natural passion such as human compassion?" --"Killing a Chinese Mandarin: The Moral Implications of Distance", Carlo Ginzburg

Related e



In Greek mythology, Polynices ("manifold strife") was the son of Oedipus and Jocasta. His wife was Argea. His father, Oedipus, was discovered to have killed his father and married his mother, and was expelled from Thebes, leaving his sons Eteocles and Polynices to rule. Because of a curse put on them by their father, Oedipus, the sons, Polynices and Eteocles, did not share the rule peacefully and died as a result by killing each other in a battle for the control of Thebes.


In Sophocles' tragedy Antigone, Polynices' story continues after his death. King Creon, who ascended to the throne of Thebes, decreed that Polynices was not to be buried or even mourned, on pain of death by stoning. Antigone, his sister, defied the order, but was caught. Creon decreed death, this in spite of her betrothal to his son Haemon. Antigone's sister, Ismene, then declared she had aided Antigone and wanted the same fate. Creon imprisoned Antigone in a sepulchre; meanwhile the gods, through the blind prophet Tiresias, expressed their disapproval of Creon's decision, which convinced him to rescind his order. He then went to bury Polynices himself, and release Antigone. However, she had already hanged herself rather than be buried alive. When Creon arrived at the tomb where she was to be interred, his son Haemon made as if to attack him and then killed himself. When Creon's wife, Eurydice, was informed of their deaths, she too took her own life.

See also

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

Personal tools