Thebes was invaded by Oedipus’ son, Polynices, and his followers. As Oedipus predicted in the previous play, Polynices and his brother, Eteocles, killed each other during battle. Creon, the king of Thebes, ruled that Eteocles should have a proper burial with honors and Polynices, the invader, be left unburied to rot.
Antigone was dejected with Creon’s ruling and decided to bury Polynices herself. She tried to enlist Ismene to help her, but Ismene was to afraid. Antigone furiously continued with the plan on her own. A sentry discovered Antigone and brought her to Creon. Ismene was also brought to Creon and confessed that she had helped Antigone with the burial rites of Polynices. Antigone stopped Ismene and told her not to admit to an act that she had not committed. Antigone took sole responsibility for the burial and claimed that Creon had no right to forbid the burial of Polynices. Ismene pleaded with Creon to spare Antigone’s life for the sake of Haemon, Creon’s son.
Haemon had been promised Antigone’s hand in marriage and was obviously frantic by his father’s decision. Haemon argued with his father to release Antigone, but Creon called him a degenerate for siding with a woman. Haemon continued to insult Creon, which led to Creon threatening to kill Antigone right then. Haemon was incapable of persuading his father to release Antigone and rushed away angrily.
Creon reported his plan to have Antigone locked up in a rocky tomb and leave her to die of starvation. Antigone confessed her misfortunes in life and indicated that her...