Antigone Fate And Free Will Essay

Free Destiny Vs. Controlled Fate In Antigone

Fate is an old debated concept. Do one's actions truly play a role in determining one's life? Is fate freedom to some or is it binding to others, in that no individual can make completely individual decisions, and therefore, no one is truly free. Nowadays, fate is a subject often rejected in society, as it is seen as too big, too idealistic, and too hard to wrap a persons head around. However, at the time of Antigone, the concept was a terrifying reality for most people. Fate is the will of the gods, and as is apparent in Antigone, the gods' will is not to be questioned. Much of Sophocles' work focuses on the struggle between human law and what is believed to be the god’s law. Fate was an unstoppable force and it was assumed that any efforts to change one's future were unrealistic. In Sophocles' Antigone, fate plays a crucial role the choices that the characters make.
Most people believe that Creon and Antigone were under the influence of forces that they could not control, in the decisions they made and the actions that they took. Despite Antigone's morals and her practice of those morals, she cannot escape the family curse. She states, “You would think that we had already suffered enough for the curse on Oedipus” (prologue.2-3). Ironically Antigone will suffer the rest of her life because of what her father/brother did. Her life had been rocked so much by this family curse that only Ismene remains, and she lost the last thing that mattered to her--her sister Antigone, who surprisingly took her own life. Antigone’s strong beliefs in the god’s laws can really be heard when she said “…Your edict, King, was strong, but all your strength is weakness itself against the immortal unrecorded laws of god. They are not merely now: they were, and shall be, operative forever, beyond man utterly” (2.59-63). What is surprising about this is that she believed that the gods would hurt Creon for restricting her brother’s burial. At some time she thought she must have been wrong, otherwise she would not of have hanged herself if she truly believed the gods were on her side. Antigone’s fate as it seems was unstoppable death. Most people think she herself changed her fate, from being killed by lack of food that Creon supplied to her, to...

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The ancient Greeks believed that their gods could see the future, and that certain people could access this information. Independent prophets called "seers" saw visions of things to come. Oracles, priests who resided at the temples of gods—such as the oracle to Apollo at Delphi—were also believed to be able to interpret the gods' visions and give prophecies to people who sought to know the future. Oracles were an accepted part of Greek life—famous leaders and common people alike consulted them for help with making all kinds of decisions. Long before the beginning of Antigone, Oedipus, Antigone's father, fulfilled one of the most famous prophecies in world literature—that he would kill his father and marry his mother (these events are covered in detail in Sophocles's Oedipus Rex). Despite his efforts to avoid this terrible fate, it came to pass. When Oedipus learned what he had inadvertently done, he gouged out his own eyes and was banished from Thebes. Before dying, he prophesied that his two sons, Polynices and Eteocles, would kill each other in the battle for Thebes (see Oedipus at Colonus). This, too, comes to pass.

Yet when the prophet Tiresias visits Creon in Antigone, he comes to deliver a warning, not an unavoidable prophecy. He says that Creon has made a bad decision, but that he can redeem himself. "Once the wrong is done," Tiresias says, "a man can turn his back on folly, misfortune, too, if he tries to make amends, however low he's fallen, and stops his bullnecked ways." While Oedipus never has a choice—his fate was sealed—in this case Creon seems to have more free will. He chooses to remain stubborn, however, until it's too late and he is caught in the grip of a terrible fate that he can't escape.

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