Civil vs. Divine Law Antigone

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Civil Law v. Divine Law
Sophocles' play Antigone examines the age-old conflict between divine law and civil law, including the life-and-death consequences of obeying one system over the other. The title character of Antigone believes divine law is the only legitimate, binding system governing a person's actions and their consequences. Viewing the civil laws of Thebes as unjust, Antigone buries her brother's remains in direct defiance of Creon's edicts that forbid such actions. She is completely shameless for her disobedience, stating "I did it. I deny nothing." (541) when asked if she is aware that her actions were considered "criminal". Antigone further denies the validity of Creon's edicts in stating "I did not believe that Zeus was the one who had proclaimed [the law]. …The laws they have made for men are well marked out. I didn’t suppose that your decree had strength enough…to violate the lawful traditions" (550). Despite the dire consequences for disobedience, Antigone remains true to her conviction that the civil laws created by Creon have no bearing on one's actions and are inferior compared to divine law. In contrast, Creon believes civil law is the supreme law of the land and adherence to divine law isn't essential for governing a city. His arrogance and sense of superiority are exposed when he says "Will the nation tell me what orders I can give?" (883) and that “Nations belong to the men with power. That’s common knowledge.” (888). Creon's desire to control the people of Thebes is so complete that he will do whatever is necessary to maintain power. For example, he expresses indifference when Haimon threatens to commit suicide if Antigone is killed, stating "Let him try, let him imagine; he’s only a man. He can’t save those two girls from death"

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