This week we’re going to read Sophocles’ play, Antigone, and continue talking about social justice.

First, you need to read the assigned pages of Antigone before we meet (see the Agenda for Week 9), and be prepared to discuss the characters presented. Though we’ll only focus on three, there’s a lot of characters to keep track of. I found a great website that summarizes each character and shares some backstory of the play itself quite nicely:

The heroine Antigone is one of the four children of Oedipus (her siblings are Ismene, Eteocles and Polyneices). A loyal daughter, she guided the blind Oedipus into exile before he died, and she’ll be equally faithful to her dead brother Polyneices.

Oedipus was king of Thebes, a city in central Greece. He is famous in Greek myth for unknowingly killing his father (Laius) and marrying his mother (Jocasta). Oedipus dies before the action of Sophocles’ play Antigone begins, but his memory and cursed existence loom over everything that happens to his descendants.

Creon is the brother of the dead queen Jocasta (the wife and mother of Oedipus). He is fierce and steadfast – some might even say arrogant – but will meet his match in his young niece Antigone. Sophocles’ play begins at the point when Creon has taken over the throne of Thebes – ‘a city in chaos’.

Ismene is Antigone’s younger sister. She too is a loyal sibling, but she’s more cautious than Antigone, and fears the consequences of defying their uncle Creon.

Eteocles is the brother of Antigone, Ismene and Polyneices. He took control of Thebes after King Oedipus died, but then refused share the throne with his brother Polyneices. The two brothers fought and killed each other outside one of the city’s seven gates – and that’s when the real trouble began.

Polyneices is the brother of Antigone, Ismene and Eteocles. His name means ‘many troubles’, and he’s generally remembered as ‘the bad brother’, because he attacked Thebes with a foreign army. While Eteocles was buried with full ritual honours, Polyneices was left as carrion for the crows, in punishment for the vile crime of assaulting his own city.

Haemon is the son of Creon and Eurydice, and cousin to the four children of Oedipus. He is in love with Antigone, and the pair plan to get married soon.

Eurydice is the wife of Creon (no relation to the other mythical Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus). She appears right at the end of the play Antigone, in profoundly wretched circumstances.

Teiresias is an old blind prophet from Thebes, who can predict the future from observing birds and other creatures. Years ago, he had guided King Oedipus towards the truth about his incestuous marriage. In Antigone, he will return to the Theban royal palace to warn Creon of some horrific omens from the gods. But will Creon believe him?

Dr Jessica Hughes, OpenLearn

Second, we’ll be talking about civil disobedience, and answering the question regarding Antigone’s actions in the play: Is Antigone committing civil disobedience? Why do you say yes or no?

That will lead to our third objective for Week 9: Are there social justice issues that you are passionate about, and would consider civil disobedience for? We’ll spend time contemplating these questions, which will lead you to a social justice issue (and eventually a question) that will become the focus for your Unit 2 Annotated Bibliography!

Go to our Agenda for Week 9 to review the details, and see what needs to be done before we meet!