Conflict Illiad Vs. Antigone Essay, Research Paper
This paper will address the conflicts between, Achilleus and Agamemnon, and Antigone and Creon. The first content paragraph will address the individuality that Achilleus brings about and how it goes against the tradition. The second content paragraph will address Antigone and her fight for justice and tradition. In conclusion we will reflect on the similarities and dissimilarities of Antigone and Achilleus’ conflicts, and how their fights, for and against tradition, were really the same fight for equality against authority.
Achilleus and Agamemnon’s conflict begins when Agamemnon is forced to return Chryseis to her father to end the wrath of Apollo. Agamemnon demands that he be compensated for his loss. Achilleus speaks out against Agamemnon, saying that he was greedy and did not need nor deserve a new prize. Here Achilleus says, “Never, when the Achaians sack some well-found citadel of the Trojans, do I have a prize that is equal to your prize. Always the greater part of the painful fighting is the work of my hands; but when the time comes to distribute the booty yours is far the greater reward, and I with some small thing yet dear to me go back to my ships when I am weary with fighting.” (H,63, 163-168) Within this conflict comes the beginning of a new value, individuality. Achilleus is the first to “go against the grain” and defy the social order of things. He is angered by the notion that Agamemnon can and will get what he wants. In the previous quote, he alludes to the idea that a person should be rewarded for the work he has done, not the position he holds. Individuality itself goes against the tradition of the times. Everyone back then moved with the community. If a man is ordered by a superior to do something, it gets done. Achilleus fought against that. “Tell other men to do these things, but give me no more commands, since I for my part have no intention to obey you.” (H, 67, 295-296) His decision to not help the Achaians with the war also shows that his main concern lies within rather than on the community. Achillues’ rage against authority come from the lack of fairness shown to him and the other Argives, a common thread throughout history.
Prior to the beginning of Antigone, Eteocles and Polynices, fought and killed each other. Both men were brothers of Antigone. Polynices was leading a fight against Thebes, and Eteocles was defending. Therefore, at there death, Creon decreen that Eteolces be buried as a hero and Polynices shall remain unburied for his traitorous actions. Antigone, being sister to each, found it unjust that Polynices’ body remained to be eaten by dogs and birds of prey.
Ismene. What, would you bury him? (S,2-3)
Against the proclamation?
Antigone. My own brother
And yours I will! If you will not, I will;
I shall not prove disloyal.
Ismene. You are mad!
When Creon has forbidden it?
Antigone. From mine own
He has no right to stay me.
Antigone’s sister, Ismene, trys to talk her out of going against Creon’s will.
Do but consider how most miserably
We too shall perish, if despite of law
We traverse the behest or power of kings.
Antigone cannot be convinced.
Him will I bury. Death, so met, were honour;
And for that capital crime of piety,
Loving and loved, I will lie by his side.
Far longer is there need I satisfy
Those nether Powers, that powers on earth; for there
For ever must I lie. You, if you will,
Hold up to scorn what is approved of Heaven!
She believes that the right to be buried and receive honour among the Gods is far greater than any law preventing such. Here begins the conflict of tradition vs. mortal law. Off she goes to perform the ceremonial rite on the body of her brother. Antigone realizes that this actions will probably lead to her death, but she would rather that than have her brother left dishonoured in the eyes of the Gods. Later Antigone is brought before Creon to attest to her deeds.
Now tell me, not at length, but in brief space,
Knew you the order not to do it?
I knew it; what should hinder? It was plain.
Creon. And you made free to overstep my law?
Antigone. Because it was not Zeus who ordered it,
Nor Justice, dweller with the Nether Gods,
Gave such a law to men; nor did I deem
Your ordinance of so much binding force,
As that a mortal man could overbear
The unchangeable unwritten code of Heaven;
This is not of today and yesterday,
Antigone denies it not. The direct conflict between Antigone and Creon starts here. Creon is outraged that Antigone overstepped his law. Antigone explains that the laws of of Zeus and the other Gods cannot be overwritten by the laws of a mortal man. Creon tells Antigone that she is alone in her views and defiance.
Creon. You, of all this people, (S,19-20)
Are singular in you discernment.
They too discern; they but refrain their tongues
At your behest.
Creon. And you are not ashamed
That you deem otherwise?
Antigone. It is no shame
To pay respect to our own flesh and blood.
Creon. And his dead foeman, was not he your brother
Antigone. Yes, the same sire’s and mother’s son.
Creon. Why pay, then, honours which are wrongs to him?
Antigone. The dead clay makes no protest.
Creon. Not although
His with a villain’s share your reverence?
Antigone. It was no bondman perished, but a brother.
Creon. Spoiling, I say, this country; while his rival
Stood for it.
Antigone. All the same, these rites are due
To the underworld.
Creon. But not in equal measure
Both for good man and the bad.
Antigone. Who knows
This is not piety there?
Creon. The enemy
Can never be a friend, even in death.
Antigone. Well, I was made for fellowship in love,
Not fellowship in hate.
Creon. Then get you down
Thither, and love, if you must love, the dead!
No woman, while I live, shall order me.
Antigone says that she is not the only one who thinks this way, she is the only one to voice her opinion. Creon asks why she shows the same respect to each man, good and bad. Antigone responds by saying the rites of death are due no matter the actions in life, and that she feels no hate only love for those that have died. With this Creon condemns here to death. Upon hearing this most recent decree Creon’s own son, Haemon, trys to talk him out of this present course of action.
Haemon. though a man be wise, (S,27)
It is no shame for him to live and learn,
And not to stretch a course too far. You see
How all the trees on winter torrent banks,
Yielding, preserve their sprays; those that would stem it
Break, roots and all; the shipman too, who keeps
The vessel’s main-sheet taut, and will not slacken,
Goes cruising, in the end, keel uppermost:
Let thy wrath go! Be willing to relent!
Haemon’s advice about the good ruler bending like branches in the winter goes right over his head. But, in an unexpected twist, he does learn! He actually does listen to the Senator, and takes his advice.
Creon. What should I do? Speak, I will hearden. (S,41)
1 Senator. Go,
Set free the maiden from the vault, and build
A tomb for that dead outcast.
His failure to undo his deeds in the right order still leads to tragedy, he should have unburied Antigone before he buried Polynices. Haemon kills himself because of Antigone’s death and Eurydice, Creon’s wife, kills herself when she learns of her sons suicide.
In conclusion, we look at the conflicts of Achilleus and Antigone. Achilleus fought against the unfairness of Agamemnon’s greed. Antigone fought against Creon’s unjustness in allowing the burial of Eteocles and forbiding the same for Polynices. Both Achilleus and Antigone fought against their mortal rulers, and both sacrificed their lives for the retribution of another.