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Lecture 1 - Sophocles' Antigone

6 Pages

Political Science
Course Code
Sophie Bourgault

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Sept. 12, 2013 o Bronze Age (3,000 – 1,100 B.C.)  Trojan War: 1194 – 1184 B.C. o Dark Ages (1100 – 750 B.C.)  Destruction of the Mycenaean empire  Loss of literacy, architecture, commercial exchange, decrease in population o Archaic Period (750 – 480 B.C.)  Creation of the Greek city-state (polis) “seeds of the miracle” Revival of the Greek heroes of the Bronze Age(Homer - cultural renaissance) Speed of Greek colonization increased because of over population, political unrest, or due to economic factors (needed more land and slaves). The most prestigious Greek men owned up to a hundred slaves and they were given the most demeaning tasks. The age of revolutions and political reforms (“true” Greek democracy) o Classical Period (480 – 326 B.C.)  Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 B.C.)  Antigone (440 B.C.) 1. Situating the “Greek miracle” th o Within a short period of time (5 century B.C.), Western philosophy was born, theatre, literature, and the greatest political system was created and never again put in place – “true democracy” (only the rich elite men could vote) The classical period was the result of several centuries of this miracle This miracle was purchased at a very high price. Liberty and great wealth was acquired at the expense of others. o Most of the topic of writing and literature in the Classical Period is set in the Bronze Age (Homer’s Iliad) o Athens is very wealthy and very proud – it will use this pretext to threaten other city-states and impose their will. o Plague in Athens killed a third of the population. Population was also decimated by wars with other city-states. This resulted in the loss of wealth and goods. o The great democracy of Athens committed genocide, and sacrificed a third of its population for the sake of empire. 2. The functions of tragedy and link between democracy and tragedy o Born and died within the span of 90 years o Lyric poetry died out – tragedy was an Athenian phenomenon (big festivals). No other city-states really embraced it or invested in it. o The use of tragedy to display political events and themes – justice, political hubris, pride, tyrannical leaders, relationship between men and gods, and human agency. Philosophical function -not just a form of entertainment; tragedy as a philosophical attempt to see man as a responsible agent (to what extent is someone responsible for their actions? Can we control our own destiny?) Myth/epic  Tragedy  Philosophy Contributing to social cohesion – one way for the politics to celebrate its heroes, culture, history, and aspirations -shows were in public, by the public, and judged by the public Educative function – tragedy could provide citizens with training for their private judgment, that they could learn something about appropriate reactions to life and political events (train Athenians in proper behavior) o Tragedy emerged during this time due to significant political change; a way for the Athenian mind to come to terms with fear and trepidation o What should we do with the old laws (Divine) when they come into conflict with Man-made law? o Democracy served to answer these questions and solve the problems at the heart of politics (conflict between order, desires, family & state). It’s not as simple as: Piety vs. Civic order Family vs. City Love vs. Justice Emotion vs. Reason Women vs. Men 3. Antigone: her motives and the issue of gender o Written by Sophocles o Polynices (revolutionary) VS Eteoclyes (in power) o Arguments to Ismene: 1- Duty to family: the suffering they have experienced 2- Such an act of courage would display their noble heritage 3- refusal on her part will be taken as betrayal o Ismene invokes her gender as the reason why she won’t do it -seen by Antigone as a convenient excuse o Creon certainly didn’t use gender as a discriminatory factor; he was ready to stone a man or a woman for disobeying his decree o Sophocles’ works have many strong female characters – good, virtuous, etc. o Sense of duty – burying her brother. If it’s a crime, it will be a holy crime. It will please the dead rather than the living (death is eternal – you’ll end up with them) 4. Creon’s approach to ruling Kerygma (decree) VS nomos (law) o Creon – says he feels the need to ask the elders for advice (later on, he won’t) o Creon’s approach to ruling/politics/statesmanship: 1- Politics are very challenging; ruling is difficult (p.131) 2- Says that ruling a community without seeking the advice of others is foolish (other later on he will ignore all advice) 3- Wants to rule without making any compromises – apply the law regardless of who it applies to (most beneficial to the city and the people) – he will not bend the law for his family and friends o Definition of justice – principle to be kind to the city’s friends and nasty to its enemies (this should guide action when making a decision) o Justice – to harm your enemies and benefit your friends (REPUBLIC) o Off of this premise, punish Polynices, reward Eteocles o C
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