Quotes or quotations are representative lines from a literary text which gives an idea of the beliefs expressed by the writer. Sophocles’ Antigone has various quotes which give clues to the ideas, themes, and beliefs that the writer has expressed through his characters. Some of the representative quotes from Antigone play have been analyzed below. The quotes have been taken from Antigone translated by H. D. F. Kitto and edited by Edith Hall.
Quotes in Antigone
“And if I have to die for this pure crime,/ I am content, for I shall rest beside him;/ His love will answer mine”
Antigone, the major character of the play, speaks these lines when she addresses her sister Ismene. She is telling her that as she is going to bury her brother Polynices, and she is not afraid of death. In fact, it shows that the love of a sister, as she is ready to die for her brother whose dead body needs burial rites, while Creon, the current ruler has passed the law against his burial in favor of their other brother Eteocles who fought on the opposite side of the civil war.
“There is no art that teaches us to know/ The temper, mind or spirit of any man/ Until he has been proved by government/ And lawgiving.”
Creon is addressing the counselors to state that as they do not know what to do with Polyneices; therefore, they cannot do anything as this is the first law. He wants to state that as he is the king, he rules the city and has the legislative power. Therefore, the burial of Polynices is out of the question according to him, who is now representing the government.
“Welcome, light of the Sun, the fairest/ Sun that ever has dawned upon/ Thebes, the city of seven gates!”
The Chorus sings about the victory over the battle for Thebes. These lines show the glory of the city of Thebes having seven gates where the sun shines the brightest and shows its colors when it is dawn. It seems ironic that both the royal houses see extinction when this praise of the city is being sung in this ode.
“Wonders are many, yet of all/ Things is Man the most wonderful / He can sail on the stormy sea / Though the tempest rage, and the loud”
These lines are chorus sung as an ode to commemorate the understanding that human is the most wonderful thing that has ever been created. It shows that a man/woman can possess the courage to face hardships. This is the praise of man as the creation or the crown of the creation on this earth.
“Disaster is linked with disaster./ Woe again must each generation inherit.”
These lines have occurred in the third ode in its antistrophe. The chorus sings sadly how the house of the king has been destroyed. It states that when the sorrows strike, they follow each other in battalions in the Shakespearean phrase. It echoes the disaster of Oedipus and then of Antigone.
“No man alive is free/ From error, but the wise and the prudent man / When he has fallen into evil courses / Does not persist, but tries to find amendment.”
In these lines, Tiresias is warning Creon from committing a mistake. He is telling him that a wise and prudent person does not commit a mistake or takes a wrong path that leads to evil. If a wise man takes a wrong way, he immediately turns around, realizing his mistake and takes the right path.
“O look upon me,/ The last that remain of a line of kings!/ How savagely impious men use me,/ For keeping a law that is holy”
Antigone speaks these words with deep pain while mourning her both brothers’ death. She reminds them that she’s the last descendant of King Oedipus. She explains how men use her and that King Creon now wants to make her the victim of the law. She also asserts that a sinful person is using the law for his own purpose.
“So side by side they lie, and both are dead./ Not in this world but in the world below / He wins his bride, and shows to all mankind / That folly is the worst of human evils”
The first messenger is telling the queen Eurydice and the other Thebans about Haemon’s suicide after he saw Antigone is dead. Therefore, he has shown that he has won his bride by committing suicide and dying like her. However, the speaker expresses his belief as he mentions that suicide is a mistake and the worst action a human being can commit.
“Too late, too late you see the path of wisdom”
Chorus utters these words to Creon, who is now grief-stricken to know that his foolishness has killed his entire family. This is a typical response of a hapless person who sees that nothing could be done in the face of looming tragedy. This is also an emotional response of a tragic hero who is helpless in the face of fate.
“Then pray no more; from suffering that has been / Decreed no man will ever find escape”
The Chorus voices these words at the end of the play. The elders join the king to mourn the downfall of his entire family. These lines show that when the people are praying, the Chorus, being a hopeful group, suggests them to stop as the sufferings from the fate are inescapable and that nobody can avoid them. In other words, the Chorus tells that when fate has decreed something against a person, he/she cannot change or run away from it.