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A comparison of Antigone and Socrate’s views on Divine Law

            Antigone is the main character in the drama written by Sophocles entitled Antigone. The main theme of the play is the conflict between obeying divine law versus state law. A ruler called Creon and his niece, Antigone are in the limelight for the conflict of interest between them. This is as a result of the death of Eteocles and Polyneices who were her brothers. While the king declares that only Eteocles would receive a proper burial, Antigone is convinced both of them deserve an honorable burial. If no one would grant that to Polyneices, she would bury him by herself. Antigone’s action makes her uncle furious and he pronounces death as penalty for her disobedience. The article known as Apology was documented by Plato. It enumerates an explanation made by Socrates in response to the accusations lodged against him (Johnston). He told his audience that all wisdom came from God who is wiser than everyone else (Kreis). This reflection brings out similarities and differences of Antigone and Socrates on the divine law.

Similarities in views on divine law

Both Antigone and Socrates were convinced that there was someone to whom all human beings were answerable to. As such, they acted in awe of this person of whom nothing had been written about and no one had ever met. We see proof of the honor, which Socrates accorded God when he says:

                        …my hearers always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I find                                  wanting in others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and in                                     this oracle he means to say that the wisdom of  men is little or nothing…(Plato).

These two people were also aware of their duty to divinity in obeying their laws. Socrates agrees to face punishment for his accusations since he believes it is part of his obedience to God. Antigone is also ready to face the wrath of the king since she believes the only person whom she must obey is Zeus, not the king.

The contrasting view on divine law

In as much as both Antigone and Socrates believed in a higher power and sought to obey him, there was a slight difference in their beliefs. Antigone strived to obey Zeus only and only what he said could be used as authority to act on. No one else, including the king or any other laws, could shake her stand. Antigone proceeds to burry Polyneices, her brother, against the king’s order that no one should touch his corpse. She feels justified and bold enough to face her death since she has obeyed the gods.

Socrates behaves differently because he understood his obligation to both God and the laws of the land. Both laws were essential and he even defended the rule of law saying if he had been found guilty then he would gladly take on the punishment. He bravely faces his death satisfied that he had not disobeyed the laws of the land by obeying the jury’s verdict.

Conclusion

In as much as both Antigone and Socrates had reverence for divine law, their understanding was not the same. Antigone believed the only person she was accountable to by her actions was Zeus. On the other hand, Socrates knew he was responsible to both God and the law of the land for his actions.

Works Cited

Johnston, Ian. Sophocles: Antigone. May 2015. Web. 15 Feb 2015. < https://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/sophocles/antigone.htm>

Kreis, Steven. The History Guide: Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History. Plato, The Allegory of the Cave. 2000. 13 April 2012. Web. 15 Feb 2015. < http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/allegory.html>

Plato. Apology. 2009. Web. 15 Feb 2015. <http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html>