Confronting the Dilemmas of Our Own Experience
An Illustrated Presentation by Dr. Lena Hatzichronoglou
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.
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