Study Guide

Antigone Context

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Sophocles gets the award for most famous version of Antigone's tale. His tragedy, Antigone, has stood the test of time in a major way and is still performed all over the world. Though it's the last chronologically, the play was the first written by Sophocles of the Theban plays, which include Oedipus at Colonus (costarring Antigone) and Oedipus the King. Sophocles' main rival, Euripides, also wrote a play called Antigone, but unfortunately only a few fragments remain.

The version of the play by Sophocles has also been adapted like a ba-jillion times by all kinds of different playwrights. One particularly awesome version is by French playwright, Jean Anouilh, who many say crafted it to protest the Nazi occupation of France. Antigone's story has also been used to protest apartheid in South Africa. In The Island by John Kani, Winston Nitshona, and Athol Fugard, two black prisoners in the notorious Robben Island prison perform Antigone as an act of protest.

Many other famous playwrights have taken a swipe at it as well, including Bertolt Brecht, Seamus Heaney, and Mac Wellman. All these adaptations and continual performances of Sophocles' classic tell us that the story of Antigone is one that will never die. Why is it, do you think? Maybe it's easy to root for a heroine who sticks to her guns despite overwhelming forces against her. Maybe we just like rooting for an underdog.

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