Vol 9 (2019)

Antigone and the gods

Published October 1, 2020


How does Antigone justify her choice to rebel? Ancient as well as modern readers of the tragedy have tried to minimize the role of the gods in Antigone’s choice. However, Antigone’s actions rest upon both normative reasons (the laws of the gods) and justifying reasons (punishment from the gods, and the pursuit of happiness). In making her choice, Antigone is referring to a simple principle of ancient ethics: being just is equivalent to choosing actions that can make us happy. Evaluating human suffering, the gods’ punishment, and happiness, Antigone makes a choice that seems perfectly clear – and is inextricably linked to her own individuality.