Prologue

By its very nature, the prologue of Sophocles’ Antigone acts as an introduction. The main character, Antigone enters the scene together with her sister Ismene, and readers find out the central theme of the play in the conversation between the two sisters, or more precisely in one of Antigone’s passages: 

It’s the burial of our two brothers. Creon
Promotes one of them and shames the other.
Eteocles—I heard Creon covered him beneath
The earth with proper rites, as law ordains,
So he has honor down among the dead.
But Polyneices’ miserable corpse—
They say Creon has proclaimed to everyone: 
‘No burial of any kind. No wailing, no public tears.
Give him to the vultures, unwept, unburied,
To be a sweet treasure for their sharp eyes and beaks.’ (Prologue, Scene 1, ll. 21-30)

The tragic events begin with Antigone’s plan (the inciting incident). Ismene, for example, asks her sister fearfully: “In what dangerous adventure?” (Prologue, Scene 1, l. 42). She gets the answer immediately, which confirms her concern: “If you help this hand raise this corpse …” (Prologue, Scene 1, l. 43). Therefore, the prologue acts as the exposition of the play.

Already in the beginning we can clearly see that Creon’s law against burying her brother Polynices causes Antigone tremendous displeasure and prompts her to take appropriate action against it. She refers to the law as the curse of her family and presents it as an addition to all her shameful experiences: 

I’ve never seen such misery and madness—
It’s monstrous! Such deep shame and dishonor—
As this, which ...

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