Antigones: How the Antigone Legend Has Endured in Western by George Steiner

By George Steiner

In line with Greek legend, Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, secretly buried her brother in defiance of the order of Creon, king of Thebes. Sentenced to dying via Creon, she forestalled him via committing suicide. The subject matter of the clash among Antigone and Creon—between the country and the person, among guy and lady, among younger and old—has captured the Western mind's eye for greater than 2000 years. George Steiner right here examines the far-reaching legacy of this nice classical fable. He considers its therapy in Western artwork, literature, and thought—in drama, poetry, prose, philosophic discourse, political tracts, opera, ballet, movie, or even the plastic arts. A learn in poetics and within the philosophy of analyzing, Antigones leads us to appear back on the impression the Greek myths workout on twentieth-century tradition.

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This supposition would, however, be shallow. Goethe saw deep and unflinchingly into human disaster. He did feel that Versiihnung ('reconciliation', 'the making of amends' on an almost cosmic scale of values) was the most mature outcome of tragic drama. Aristotle, for one, had shared this sentiment. But it could, it often had to be, reconciliation at the cost of human immolation and self­ immolation. Goethe's formulation in the I 827 Nachlese zu A ristoteles Poetik is uncompromising. Versiihnung may have to wait on 'eine Art M enschenopfer' ( 'a kind of human sacrifice') either direct or by surrogate, 'as in the case of Abraham and of Agamemnon' .

Hegel now obscures it to the point of near-impenetrability by attaching it to a tentative metaphysical or ontological design. The division between 1TDALc and individual itself reflects the engagement of ' the Absolute' in temporality and in phenomenal contin­ gencies. Of this engagement, the antique dei ties are, as it were, the vehicle and symbol. Their implication in human moral conflicts causes a self-scission in the nature of the divine : as between the concrete dictates and executive powers of justice represented by the Eumenides, and the 'indifferent light' or dispassionate oneness of the Absolute which is symbolized by Apollo.

Death, as it were, 'specifies this specificity' in the highest degree. It is the extreme accomplishment of the unique (as in the Kierkegaardian-Heideggerian postulate of one's own death, inalienable to any other) . 'Death is the fulfilment and highest labour' an individual takes upon himself. As we shall see, this 'achieved totality' may be, ind eed ought to be, expressly civic, such as is death in the war-service to the nation. But in death, the individual reverts 'immensely'-the epithet is meant to suggest the radical vehemence of H egel 's vision-to the ethical domain of the family.

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