Antigone by Sophocles
Exercise for Reading Comprehension and Interpretation
Answer questions thoroughly in Composition Notebooks.
Prologue (lines 1-84) pg. 1068-1072
The play opens with the prologue consisting of dialogue between Antigone and her sister Ismene.
1. What is the dramatic purpose of the prologue?
2. What problem does Antigone report to her sister?
3. What does Antigone intend to do?
4. How does Ismene respond to Antigone’s request for help?
5. What is Ismene's view of the relationship between men and women?
6. In lines 26-27, what loaded words does Antigone use?
7. In line 35, what does this statement reveal about Antigone?
8. Briefly analyze the characterization of these two women in the prologue.
9. What dramatic purpose does the character of Ismene serve?
10. How far is Antigone prepared to go on behalf of her loved one?
11. Why does Antigone, employing an oxymoron, say that “this crime is holy" when she refers to her proposed
deed? (An oxymoron is a rhetorical figure of speech, which joins two contradictory terms for paradoxical effect, as in "a wise fool". The
word itself is a combination of two Greek words meaning 'sharp-dull'.)
12. What conflict of values is represented in the phrase in #9? (Think about 61-62)
13. Which of Antigone’s last lines (77-81) are meant to produce the most emotional effect?
Parodos (lines 1-44) pg. 1072-1073
14. Although the events described in the parodos are presented rather obscurely in poetic language as is
characteristic of choral songs, summarize in a general way in one or two sentences what the Chorus is
15. The "man who had come from Argos" refers in a collective sense to the Argive army which supported
Polyneices in his attack on Thebes. Which side in the war does the Chorus favor and why?
Scene 1 (lines 1-144) pg. 1074-1078
Creon in his first appearance in the play delivers a long speech outlining the philosophy that guides his actions and his edict (8-47).
16. In Creon’s first words to the Chorus, what were the “storms” that threatened to destroy the Ship of State?
17. Why does Creon order that Eteocles be buried with great honors, but that Polyneices’ body be left to rot on
the battlefield where it lay?
18. What human institution does Creon believe to be most important in life?
19. Compare his beliefs with those of Antigone.
20. How does the scene in which Creon delivers his edict serve to introduce him as a tragic hero?
21. What is the Chorus's initial attitude toward Creon's decree (lines 48-49)?
22. How is the Sentry characterized in this scene?
23. What view of Creon does the Sentry present to us?
24. What does line 66 reveal about Creon’s character?
25. What is Creon's reaction to the Guard's news?
Ode 1- “Ode to Man” (lines 1-24) p. 1079
26. State the main idea of the first three verses of Ode 1.
27. Make a list of man's civilized skills as enumerated by the Chorus.
28. According to the Chorus is there any limitation to man's mastery of nature? Does it view man's cleverness
as unambiguously "wondrous" or is there also something "terrible" about it (368)? Explain your answer briefly.
29. On the basis of the final verse of Ode 1, do you think the Chorus supports Creon? Why/Why not?
Scene 2 (lines 1-166) pg.1080-1087
The second episode presents the face-to-face confrontation of the two antagonists, Antigone and Creon.
30. What is the attitude of the Chorus and the Sentry with regard to the capture of Antigone?
31. In lines 17 and 19, what does Creon’s reaction suggest about his relationship with Antigone?
32. How does Antigone defend her defiance of the edict in the lines 56-63?
33. What is Creon's view of the relationship between man and woman and the relative importance of blood ties
vs. the ties of citizenship?
34. How does this contrast with Antigone's view of the same?
35. In lines 106-118, what is Creon’s main point and what is Antigone’s?
36. Lines 121-129 have contrasting images of Ismene, one from the Choragos and one from Creon. What are
37. What is Antigone's attitude with regard to her deed (97-99)? with regard to Ismene's attempt to share
responsibility for the deed (130-148)?
Ode 2 (lines 1-28) p. 1087
After the confrontation between Creon and Antigone, the Chorus sings of the misfortune that has come to Antigone and
Ismene, who have been condemned to death. The Chorus puts this tragedy in the context of the calamities suffered by
the House of Labdacus (2; 7-8), the grandfather of Oedipus. Oedipus killed his father and married his mother and
Oedipus’s sons, Polyneices and Eteocles, killed each other in a dynastic struggle.
38. Who brought these disasters on the House of Labdacus (1-2)?
39. Why has this family suffered so much and made such disastrous mistakes? (13-20)?
Scene 3 (lines 1-150) pg. 1088-1093
40. In lines 19-33, what is ironic about Creon’s advice regarding Antigone?
41. How does the Choragus view this statement: "Whoever is chosen to govern should be obeyed—Must be
obeyed, in all things, great and small, Just and unjust!” (35-37)?
42. Describe the kind of leader that would say the lines above?
43. From lines 45-48, what would you say Creon fears most?
44. According to Haemon, what is the reaction of the common people to Creon's decree of death for Antigone
45. What advice does Haemon give to Creon (69-79)?
46. What is the point that Haemon is attempting to make to Creon by the analogies of the tree and the ship
(80-85)? What criticisms does Haemon make of Creon (around line 90)?
47. Lines 111 and 113 have Haimon expressing an opinion. How is his opinion like Antigone’s? What did she
say that was similar?
48. What threat does Haemon make in line 119?
49. What do you make of Creon’s decision to bury a person alive when he has refused to bury a person who is
Ode 3 – “Ode to Love” (lines 1-16) p. 1093
50. What is the main theme of this brief Ode to Love?
51. Since choral odes generally comment upon the action of the previous episode, explain what connection
this song has with the preceding scene.
52. Can you find any lesson for Creon in this ode?