Confronting the Dilemmas of Our Own
Sophocles' Antigone is one of the most powerful plays ever written.
Even if, from the entire body of Greek Tragedy, this were the only
play to survive, it would be adequate to demonstrate the fundamental
value of Geek Theater in its function as an instrument of the citizens'
political, social and personal instruction.
It was performed at a period of relative peace (most probably at
the Great Dionysia of 442 BC), a time at which the city of Athens,
intoxicated by its own power and achievements, was still enjoying
her Golden Age, and gazed at the world from her own position of
strength and superiority. It was a period of extreme personal as
well as political expediency and ambition, which produced a strange
cultural reality; the reality in which "man" seemed to
have achieved everything, and yet, somehow, to have lost himself
in the process.
The Antigone is the tragic, dramatic representation of this experience;
of an experience of lost innocence and of blurred values and ideas,
just like ours, which, needless to say, was as disturbing in the
Athenian society of the fifth century BC as it is in the world of
today. In the story of the young daughter of Oedipus, who defies
the Law of the State in order to remain loyal to the gods, to her
dead brother and to the tradition, we see a reflection of the devastating
power of the dilemmas we too are confronted with.
In this seminar, through Antigone's story, we will look closely
at the way we react to conflicts which involve the state versus
the natural law, the expediency versus the morality, the man versus
the woman, the city versus the family, the strength versus the weakness,
the intransigence versus the flexibility, the obedience versus the
defiance. Through all these, we will raise serious questions, and
we will explore ways of achieving some balance in both our individual
and our communal lives as well.