Definition Of The Good Life In Sophocles Antigone

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How exactly should “the good life” be defined? That is an extremely difficult question to answer because everyone has a different view of what he or she considers to be the good life as well as what he or she believe that life should be constituted of. It is essential to remember and to take into consideration that people are raised in different societies and each of those societies have unique moral standards that they are expected to follow if they want to be considered to lead a good life. Over the course of history in Western civilization, literary protagonists and philosophers alike have sought out how they believe the good life should be defined and some of their conceptions deviate from the accepted social norms in their respective societies …show more content…
In Sophocles’ Antigone, the main protagonist, Antigone, reveals that she believes the essence of the good life lies within acting according to what is good and virtuous for the individual rather than what is good or beneficial for the state. Historically, the concept of citizenship and devotion to the state was essential for people in Western societies, such as the city of Thebes, where Antigone takes place. According to Creon, who acts as the embodiment of the state, Antigone’s brother Polynices has lost his entitlement to a proper burial and funeral because he attacked his native Thebes. It is considered by Creon to be completely irrelevant that Polynices was simply trying to retake part of a kingdom that was rightfully intended to be his. All that matters is that by attacking his homeland, Polynices is deemed a traitor as he is no longer loyal to the city that raised him and therefore, he should no longer be considered a citizen. Antigone however, questions this wide-held societal belief as she proves that she values her family ties and her virtues above her devotion to the state. Morally, she knows that denying her beloved brother a burial is utterly wrong, so she risks her own life …show more content…
Nobody encourages her to defy Creon’s orders and provide a proper burial for her brother, but rather, it is a decision that results from Antigone acting in accordance with her free will. When Ismene tries to convince Antigone that burying Polynices is not worth the risk and punishment of death, Antigone replies, “You have your excuses. I am on my way / I will raise a mound for him, for my dear brother” (Antigone 94-95). In this instance, Antigone is effectively taking a stand for what she believes in as she values family ties and loyalty as well as the virtue of courage. As a true tragic hero, Antigone does not let society influence her decisions or dictate how she should act and feel. Instead, she decides her course of action by thinking about and acting in accordance with her virtues and values. That is what Antigone views as an essential constituent of leading a good life. As Antigone courageously accepts Creon’s order for her impending death via being imprisoned in a tomb, she says to her sister, “You chose to live. I chose to die” (Antigone 625). In this situation, Antigone is placing emphasis on the fact that everybody has a choice of which course of action they would like to take, therefore putting the concept of free will into full effect. She is using her position and

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