Study Guide

Antigone Characters

  • Antigone

    This rebel girl is totally one of the most well known tragic heroines of all time. Some call her determined. Some call her downright stubborn. But everybody agrees that when Antigone sets her mind on something she's going to see it through to the bitter end. And for Antigone, the end is always bitter.

    The first thing we notice about Antigone is her fierce loyalty to her family. She shows this by guiding Oedipus, her blind father/brother, for years around the countryside until he finally meets his death. Later on, she meets her own death because she refuses to allow the body of her brother, Polyneices, to go unburied, despite Creon's decree. No doubt, being loyal to your family is generally a good thing, but just to ask the question... Is Antigone's loyalty a wee bit extreme? After all it does make her life miserable and eventually takes her life away. What do you think?

    Another important thing to note is that Antigone's rebelliousness is particularly uncharacteristic for the women of her time. In the male-dominated society that Antigone lives in, women are expected to do whatever the dudes in their lives tell them to do. So, by going against Creon's decree, she's not only breaking his specific law, she's also breaking a larger social code. For this reason, the character of Antigone is still seen to this day as a symbol of girl power.

    Click here for Shmoop's exclusive file on the heroine. Also, you've got to check our coverage of Antigone by Sophocles. Click here and be amazed.

  • Creon

    Antigone and her uncle Creon don't get along... like, at all. In fact, Creon has been one of main antagonists of Antigone's life. In some versions of the story, he's the guy that insists that Oedipus be exiled. Later, he attempts to kidnap Antigone, so that he can blackmail Oedipus into being buried at Thebes. And, in the end, he's the guy that sentences Antigone to death for burying her brother's body again Creon's will.

    Despite all the bad stuff that Creon does, it's important to note that he's not just some evil villain. In the early parts of the Oedipus myth, he actually comes off as a pretty nice guy, who's only got what's best for Thebes in mind. Even later on when his actions become pretty darn questionable, he's still got the good of the city in mind. When he tries to kidnap Antigone, it's to save the city from the threat he sees in Polyneices. Even the law that Polyneices' body should not be buried can be seen as an attempt to reestablish order and to discourage future rebellions.

    Even if he does have good intentions, though, Creon's somewhat ruthless policies end up causing a whole lot of trouble. Despite the fact everybody's telling him to let up on Antigone, he refuses and sentences her to death. In Sophocles version of the story, this not only causes her death, but also the death of Creon's son, Haemon, and his wife, Eurydice.

    Shmoop has lots of other coverage on this controversial guy. Click here for our exclusive files on him. Also click here for our take on his character in Sophocles' Oedipus the King and here for his character in Antigone.

  • Oedipus

    It's safe to say that this guy is one of the most talked-about blokes in Greek mythology. You can't kill your dad and sleep with your mother without gaining a little notoriety, we guess.

    In the story of Antigone, we come upon Oedipus in his twilight years. Most of the major drama is over for him, and he's basically wandering around and waiting to die. Unwilling to let her blind dad totter around the countryside on his own, Antigone loyally sticks by her father throughout his exile.

    Click here for some Shmoop's exclusive files on Oedipus and here for coverage of his character in Sophocles' Oedipus the King.

  • Tiresias

    Tiresias is the iconic blind seer, the guy who may not be able to see his hand in front of his face, but can see pretty much everything that's going to happen. Though he's super old and has been trying to advise the kings of Thebes for years, they never seem to listen to his advice, which we're guessing is the very thing that makes him so cranky all the time. In this story, we see Creon make the same mistake that so many other kings of Thebes have made before him by not listening to Tiresias. Though the prophet warns Creon that he'll lose his family if he punishes Antigone, Creon goes ahead and does it anyway.

    For the full story on the blind seer of Thebes click here. To see how he butts heads with Oedipus in Sophocles' Oedipus the King click here.