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Antigone Sophocles

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Antigone

by Sophocles

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Divine Singles are the ones we keep

Episode 3

(Enter Creon with Haemon)

Creon

My son, do not take this personally. Antigone has antagonized our nation. She honored the traitor Polynices.

Haemon

No, she simply buried her brother and in doing so antagonized you. Let it go, let it go. Let go and let the gods handle this in the distant future...

Creon

She has defied the law!

Haemon

She has defied you! Your law. You are the law.

Creon

No, I am the instrument of the law, the sword of justice. I am responsible for the welfare of the nation.

Haemon

You are the king. You can do as you wish.

Creon

No, I cannot do this I wish. The mantle of responsibility demands that I mete out justice.

Haemon

Antigone is my fiancée, and she is my beloved. There is sympathy for her.

Creon

You think I do this because I want to? No, it is my duty, just as someday it will be yours. When you inherit the mantle of responsibility. You will see then, and understand what I know now.

Haemon

Father, I respect your opinions, value your guidance, but there must be some other way.

Creon

It is easy to follow the heart. It is hard to temper one's decisions with thoughtfulness. One day you will be a father and you will understand. Now in the spring time of your life, there's nothing that your father can do that is right. But in the late summer of your years, when you are blessed with children and they in turn are teenagers, you will recall how much wiser you were than me at this time. And yet, in that moment in the future, you will see me as the wiser one.

Haemon

I don't understand. You are the king. There is no need for philosophy. All it takes is a word, even a gesture to set her free. Why can't you just do it. This is vengeance, not justice.

Creon

No, if we let her do this, we will be saying the law does not need to be obeyed. We must make an example.

Haemon

We do not need to make an example of her. Kill a slave. Blame someone from a lesser house.

Creon

You tell me that i am being unjust by condemning Antigone who did this deed, then in another breath you would have me convict an innocent to take her place as a scapegoat. Is that justice?

Haemon

I don't know. I don't know. I just don't think killing her is the answer. Perhaps death is never the solution. We regularly kill criminals for murder, but it does not seem to deter the next one. I don't see why forgiveness cannot prevail?

Creon

Son, we cannot condemn the innocent, nor can we cast out reason. The pleasures of the marriage bed grow cold when one is in the embrace of a wicked woman. Right now your blood is hot. You want to embrace her beauty, but remember all that glitters is not gold and beauty only runs skin deep. What you believe is good today will be tomorrow's trash thrown upon the dung heap of history.
You are from a good family. She is a sow, the product of incest.

Haemon

You weren't saying that yesterday. Then, she was the vehicle to legitimacy.

Creon

Time reveals and in this case, as the world turns, it unveils true nature. Can our family rule if in our midst is one who has dishonored the people?

Haemon

She did not dishonor the people. She simply buried her brother.

Creon

Her brother! Her father was her brother too. What other shadows dwell within the substance of her blood? She was born of an incestuous union. The founders of all faiths have ever been aware of this effect. We take caution with our animals to avoid inbreeding as it brings forth defects.

Enough of this! One day you will be king, then take your place upon the throne. To be a good leader, you must first learn to follow, not only to follow, but to follow well, to follow with excellence. Understand my reasoning and rationales such that there is no doubt.

How can I have confidence in you if you cannot even accept my rule? Soon you may need to lead the soldiers in combat. This is where partnership and understanding is a life or death matter. A soldier in the phalanx must ...

Haemon

Is this not a life or death matter? Antigone is not an animal being breed in the barn. She is my beloved, my future wife.

Creon

No. This is not your future wife. She belongs to Hades, to the dimensions of the dead. What was I saying?

Haemon

You were talking of the phalanx.

Creon

Yes, the phalanx. In the phalanx, strength is found in partnership. Standing side by side, strength is multiplied. The hoplite soldiers work as a unit, interlinked and interdependent. A good marriage is like the phalanx. Partners stand together, work together, and through their shared strength overcome all challenges. This woman has dishonored our nation. If she were to live and be your wife, it is only a matter of time before she would betray you too.

Haemon

The one does not predict the other. Antigone was burying her brother.


Creon

Why do you persist in this argument? Why use her name? She is soon to join her brothers in the dimensions of the dead. There is no way out of this situation. Why do you resist?

She betrayed our nation. She is a blood relation from the diseased limb of our family tree. Her father Oedipus, killed his own father on the crossroads, married his mother, sired his own brothers and sisters . She is one of these ilk.


Haemon

You speak as if Oedipus did this knowingly, he did not know the man on the crossroads was his father. He was unaware. Antigone is not my first cousin, nor so close as a 2nd cousin. Her family is more than thrice removed from our line.

Creon

Silence! Ignorance is no excuse. I am your father. This argument moves into the arena of disrespect. It seems I must be blunt. These women are the last of a diseased limb. If a limb is rotten, chop it off before the infection spreads. Yesterday, we could have made alliance with this marriage, but today to do so would be folly and the only remaining course of action is to eliminate this branch, cut it off.

Haemon

You mean to kill Ismene as well, but she has done nothing. This is not ...

Creon

Silence! Listen.

You must transform your thinking from a follower to that of a leader. You must learn to see deeper and understand. The world is filled with information but it is up to you to create a pattern that enables you to see deeper and further and as importantly to communicate your vision. That is what I mean when I say use your mind. There are plenty of scribes who can write your words, plenty of soldiers who can fulfill your commands, the reason we need leaders is they can use their heads as more than a decoration. The leader leads the nation through times of crisis returning the community to prosperity. This family has brought the crisis of war on our nation, and if we do not act quickly famine will follow.

I must have confidence in you. To learn to rule, you must be ruled. A great leader is forged in the fire of adversity, like a sacred sword, tempered through the hammering.

Can we nurture a leader without ever demanding sacrifice? Is it possible to encourage a consciousness of success by accepting half done deeds or by sweeping situations under the rug?

This is a situation that cannot be swept under the rug or ignored. The eyes of the nation are upon us. We must stand side by side, like the hoplites interlinked within the structure of the phalanx present an insurmountable wall of death. Our family is...


Haemon

I am not sure I wish to be part of this wall.

Creon

Our family! Our family must stand together against this menace. if we do not stand together, we shall fall. You are a part of this family. I am its head. I am also the head of our nation. We must stand together. There is no success to be found in denying the law of the land. The way of disobedience is the way of failure. The death of success. Be a man!

Chorus

It is hard to deny such strong words.
Creon's arguments seem sound.
Stand together. Respect the law of the nation.
Do not honor traitors.
All these things together form a powerful argument.

Haemon

Father, Divine Mind is the root of all reason. The mind is the greatest of all our possessions. Your insights are founded in experience. I only have my imagination with which to present an argument. You have the ear of the average man who finds inspiration in your speeches, yet the whispers of women throughout the city are about fairness.

They feel sorry for this girl. She did the honorable thing. She buried her brother. Who would leave a family member unburied. Food for the crows. The people's hearts are with her.

You know that I honor you. You're my father. I guard your honor and your goods. I have always been proud of you. My father, the great man. All my life I've looked up to you.

But is this greatness? Is this what a great man does? I'm not sure anymore. You are my father, I need to keep my belief in you, as much as you keep yours in me.

Everyone respects you. You are now our Commander and Chief, but we must not forget the sacred theater in the center of our town.

Creon

Theater?

Haemon

In the theater, actors play characters, utter wise sayings, whisper insights, explore the higher truths. They wear masks and reveal the frailties of human nature.

Creon

What is this nonsense? Theater? This is not a fiction. This is not a play. This is truth. This is...

Haemon

Father. Let me explain. What is more important to a little boy than the honor and glory of his daddy? And what father does not smile at his children's success?

Creon

That is normal for families. We...

Haemon

...want the best for each other and is it not true that the apple does not fall far from the tree? True wisdom does not lack humility. The wise are willing to admit their mistakes and do not spin their failures as successes.

Creon

There are limits to my patience.


Haemon

Grass yields to the wind, springing back when it is past, yet the mighty oak cracks in the gale.

Creon

Enough with the metaphors!

Haemon

Father, do the right thing. Let her go!

Creon

Do the right thing?! Let her go? One day you will understand.

Haemon

No father. There is no understanding this. I need you to relent. Find mercy. This is not the right way.

Creon

It is my way or the highway.

Haemon

There is no highway when we are on the low road.

Creon

This woman is disturbed. She is ill.

Haemon

All the more reason to let her go. The nation is with her. They believe she is right. If she is ill, it is from grief. First she lost her father, now her brother.

Creon

Her father was also her brother. I am the decider. I was chosen to lead the nation.

Haemon

You are a great man. A mighty oak, not a shrub. You are the crown of our family tree. You must demonstrate that strength through mercy.

Creon

I am the decider. I decide these things for the nation.

Haemon

The nation does not belong to one man. It cannot be possessed by one person or even a small group of oligarchs. Decisions must be tempered with justice. Does a warrior torture a child?

Creon

Democracy? Plutocracy? Oligarchy? All systems of government have a leader. As the leader I am the one who is the decider. I decide.

Haemon

You are not ruling in a vacuum. This is not an island of one.

Creon

Why do you care so much about this woman?

Haemon

I care about you.

[compare to Exodus 20:12 & Deuteronomy 5:16]

Creon

Have you not heard? It is the will of the Gods that you honour your father and mother.

Haemon

I am trying to save you.

Creon

Save me? Save yourself. So that your days will be prolonged and your life filled with goodness. This nation is a gift of the Gods.

[end comparison to Exodus 20:12 & Deuteronomy 5:16]

Haemon

And we must honour the Gods with our gifts. This is what she was doing, honouring the Gods.

Creon

She was honouring a traitor who sought to destroy our city. You dishonour yourself to defend her.

Haemon

This is not a powerful argument.

Creon

You are hopeless.

Haemon

No, I have hope. My hope is for you, for me, for our nation. If we have no faith, if we disrespect the gods...

Creon

Give it up. She is lost.

Haemon

Her death also means your destruction!

Creon

Are you threatening me!

Haemon

How can I threaten you? You are the decider! I am only contesting your weak reason.

Creon

Weak! How dare you!

Haemon

I dare to save you from yourself. You're not thinking clearly.

Creon

It seems pretty clear that you are the one who is unable to think. You are whipped.

Haemon

You only want to listen to your own voice.

Creon

I have had enough of your crap! You insult your father and the leader of the nation. It is time to bring this argument to a close. Bring the bitch!

Haemon

I can't believe this. My father! You. I ... I don't know why I waste my breath on you. You don't have a clue. I ... I'm out of here.

(Exit Haemon)

Chorus

Young people, when upset often do irrational things.
Perhaps it's best to go after him.
Make some resolution.

Creon

He'll get over it. Everyone has to grow up some time. Now we must deal with these two women.

Chorus

You intend to kill them both?

Creon

No. I have listened to your logic. The innocent must go free.

Chorus

What is the fate of the other?

Creon

There are better ways for atonement than simple death. Besides, death is what she desires. Therefore, let her be entombed alive, but fed well. This way she can achieve atonement by becoming one with darkness.

Eventually perhaps one with death, but not on our account. If she wishes to embrace Hades, she can do that in the darkness. If she wishes to live a long life, we will give her that absent of light.

Those who love the dead more than the living would do better to learn to love life, or live in hell on earth.

(Exit Creon.) Affirmations cards support us to have better days and nights

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