Antigone: A Satire in Moral Self Control
A Breif Introduction
A friend of mine has decided to go to college. Personally I don't believe in the current emphasis put on higher (or lower) education. I find it all frivolity. Nonetheless, to show my support of her, I decided to suffer alongside her, if for only a few minutes. She brought home an assignment for English class, said she had to write an essay on Antigone, explain the conflicts within, etcetera, etcetera. I decided to write a retelling, satirical style. Below is the essay I would have passed in if I were actually a pupil to "higher education." Added are a beginning and ending paragraph outlining just what I thought of the assignment. Do enjoy.
Onto the Story!
Sophocles was a writer, poet, playwright, and all around great mind, but this isn't to say the man was humorless. How are we to know his tragedies weren't meant as comedies? Who draws the line? You have to admit it's a blurry line. With a warped enough view just about anything tragic can be hilarious whether it's watching someone topple haplessly off some crude redneck creation (a go cart perhaps?) or just poking gentle fun at the hypocrisies of our world (I's be edjumakated in public skool.)
At the beginning of the story we're all heralded into the same setting as the last story (you know the one about dearest papa Oedipus?) A wordy introduction is given by our damsel in distress which could have easily been summarized in one simple sentence: Antigone's pissed that one of her brothers gets to be lain to rest properly with the worms and daisies, while her other brother is damned to rot on open ground until wild birds peck out his eyes. The horror! How deliciously sacrilegious! Antigone doesn't appear to be the sharpest tool in the shed so she decided that its her job to take care of the needs of a dead man, even though to dote on the corpse in such a way is ultimately martyring herself to the same gruesome fate. Just what baby bro' wanted.
Antigone asks for her sister Ismene's help in her quest but Ismene, being the sane one, says something to the effect of, "Are you crazy?! He's dead! He doesn't care what you do! I'm not going to risk my own painful mortality to please a corpse! Not even my brother. Besides he still owes me a pony..."
Antigone's reply, "Disloyal coward! I'll go on my own!"
At this point the chorus breaks in. I hope nothing of importance was said in these few stanzas as I tend to space out whenever someone randomly bursts into song. It's just not right.
Right about now the scene switches and we get to meet Creon who is at an important board meeting with all his Pagan drones. He gathers them all around and tells them that Polyneices, who was likely a Christian knowing his fondness for sacking and pillaging in the name of a new God, needed to be corpse sitted. "He must rot in shame for he's a trader and blasphemer to his father's Pagan Gods! Shame on him!" Creon's drones tell him to chill out, the corpse is being guarded by several low-ranking soldiers.
Just then the soldier bursts in crying, "My king! Don't kill me but the corpse has found itself cuddled in dirt and given funeral rites!"
"Who did this?" He growled back.
Practically in tears, "I don't knoooow!"
"Find this walk-by dirt flinger or I shall kill you and the entire camp that was supposed to be watching the corpse!"
"But it could have been the Gods sir!"
"The Gods?! No God would dare disobey the laws put forth by an egomaniacal mortal! Find me the real perpetrator you dunce!"
I blacked out for the next twenty minutes as they started singing again. When I awoke the guards were clasping Antigone saying, "Oh King, spare my life for I found who buried Polyneices! Here she is a fair and fine maiden." The guard winked. Antigone rolled her eyes.
"Did you bury your brother?"
"No shit Sherlock, of course I buried my brother. You think I was just meandering about town looking for a date?"
"And you knew I'd kill you if you did."
"Oh bite me! You don't scare me!"
A guard breaks in, "Spare the maiden's life, she's but a mere woman, unable to control her illogical emotions!"
"Why did you do it?"
With crossed arms and a pouting glare, "Because Zeus is my Lord and Savior and you are just a wealthy tyrant. Fuck you. Death is sweet."
"Fine! I'll slay your insolent ass!"
"Go ahead! Do it! What's your problem? Chicken? Bok bok bok! Kill me now!"
"Just for that I'm going to make you wait, you bitch! No woman tells me what to do!"
Ismene comes by for a visit.
"My sister! You were right! I was kind of a bitch to let you go out the door and kill yourself in such a stupid way. I wish to make up for it. Shall I confess to your crimes and share the punishment?"
"Too little too late! I shall die, your fate is to live." Said with such distaste.
At this time Creon's cronies start questioning him in the hopes he'd realize what an ass he was being.
"You're going to slaughter your daughter-in-law? Do you really want to do that? What will you talk about at the family dinner? Everyone will be glowering at each other in spiteful indignation."
"I don't care. My son can find a new wife."
"One he loves?"
"What does love have to do with royal marriage?! My son will marry whoever's politically convenient. End of story."
"But he'll still hate you. He does love the fair maiden Antigone."
"He'll get over it."
Enter the scene Antigone's betrothed, Creon's son, Haemon. "You're going to kill my fiancé? Well... I suppose... killing is great and all and you are the wisest man in all the land and all but do you really have to take out your unspeakable anger issues on my only female lover?"
"Yes! She's a traitor!"
"Maybe... but for her family. I mean it wasn't some pauper's grave she defiled, it was her brothers, out of love. Isn't love what makes life worth living?"
"What kind of fluffy bullshit is that? Have you been hanging out in the cannabis tents again?"
"Nooo, I did that once! Once I tell you! You think I'm such a looser! You don't trust me worth shit and now you want to off the love of my life?!"
"Yes. I'm a bastard like that. I'm just giving you a heads up."
"Fine but if you kill her, so too will you be killing me."
Haemon leaves and Creon goes back to being his surly self. "Kill both those maidens and make my son watch. He needs to be toughened up. He's such a pussy."
"But only one of them is guilty."
"What do I care? I need something to do and two deaths are far more amusing than one!"
Teiresias, the village soothsayer, comes into the scene to give the king a dreadful warning. "Creon you idiot! The Gods have forsaken us because of your stupidity! Polyneices was not buried and the Gods are angry! This oozing goat carcass told me the entire story!"
"How dare you blaspheme my decision? No God will be bothered with a dead mortal! I am the ruler here!"
"Yes, and an infuriatingly stupid one at that. If you do not allow Polyneices proper burial then I cannot guarantee your life. You shall die soon while your house is enveloped with spite for you."
"I don't believe the words of an old fool. Be gone with you!" Teiresias is shuffled off stage by some burly guards.
Of course Creon stops being a dickwad for just a moment and listens to his counsel who suggest he should just let his prisoners go and bury the stupid corpse. Being a belligerent adult-child he doesn't want to but relents. It was too late for fixing past mistakes though. Antigone had a death wish. She wanted to be with kith and kin, which all happened to be dead, except for her less than supportive sister. She hung herself in her cave and her betrothed followed suit by falling upon his sword. Creon learned there are repercussions for being a bastard and he is left ruminating with this little moral when the tired audience leaves the show yawning.
All and all I can't exactly praise this as good literature. Why are we reading this again? No empathy is created for any of the characters. I couldn't have given a flying shit if any of them lived or died. The characters could all be summarized as a stubborn ditz, a bastard king, a cowardly sister, a kiss-ass prince, and a hoard of ineffectual guards. There's nothing interesting here... I had to make it a comedy just so I could slog through the thing without dying of boredom. The moral of the story wasn't even worth waiting for. Don't be a blood-thirsty fear monger or the people around you are going to start to get pissed... yeah that's pretty much common sense.
If this article made you smile maybe you'd like some others written by Theophanes:
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