Nomos vs. Physis in Sophocles’Antigone and the Modern World

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Nomos vs. Physis in Sophocles’Antigone and the Modern World

The Greek play, Antigone, written by Sophocles in the year 441 BCE, honors the Greek god of wine, Dionysus. It is hard to imagine that a play, written century ago for an imaginary god, would still be widely popular and have great significance in today's world. Using two main characters, Antigone and Creon, Sophocles creates a dialogue that examines two very different views of nomos (law) and physis (nature), the focal point of all Greek beliefs. These two terms were often the key in deciding what was considered right and wrong among the Greeks, and people still use nomos and physis in today's society centuries later. Throughout Antigone, Creon and Antigone use nomos and
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She argues that the gods rule was absolute and that no man made law could claim superiority over the gods. Creon on the other hand argues that because of physis, he is the next in the blood line to become the king, and therefore any law he institutes should be carried out by all people. Creon claimed that the gods would not favor Polyneices because he was un-loyal to the gods, as well as his country. He even says, "Is it your senile opinion that the gods love to honor bad men? A pious thought" (Sophocles, lines 111-113). Through these words of the character, Sophocles shows that Creon also argues through nomos that his laws are just as equal as the gods, and Antigone's punishment will be carried out. Sophocles demonstrated through Creon and Antigone how nomos and physis can be used to argue each other's points, and it is the person's interpretation of these words that determines their meaning and what is considered right or wrong.

Nomos and physis are also used in many debates in today's society. For example, gay right activists who are in support of gay marriages and those who are in opposition to such unions will both argue that law and nature are on their side. For instance, some people who are against gay marriages argue their points through physis by saying that, according to the Bible, marriage is sacred, and defined as a union between a man and a woman. This argument is similar to

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