Oedipus at Colonus

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Antigone Character Analysis

Oedipus's daughter and guide in his blind wanderings. Although she has not been banished from Thebes, she suffers the same hardships as her father out of her love for him. When her brother Polynices visits in a failed attempt to gain Oedipus's blessing, he asks Antigone to give him a proper burial if he should die in battle (these efforts are the subject of Sophocles's Antigone).

Antigone Quotes in Oedipus at Colonus

The Oedipus at Colonus quotes below are all either spoken by Antigone or refer to Antigone. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Oedipus at Colonus published in 1984.
Lines 577-1192 Quotes
Oh Athens, praised above any land on earth,
now turn your glowing praises into action!
Related Characters: Antigone (speaker)
Page Number: 818-819
Explanation and Analysis:

Antigone says this in response to the Chorus's high praise of Athens as a place to live. Immediately after, Oedipus questions her about why she made this remark, but Creon enters the scene before she can answer. It's somewhat ambiguous whether Antigone genuinely believes that Athens will fit the Chorus's description (which would fit with Sophocles' consistent praise of his home city), or whether she's mocking their praise and finds it boastful--one can imagine that the trials of wandering from place to place have left her jaded. Either way, Antigone's plea brings out a distinction between thought/words and action, description and actual reality. This distinction is developed throughout the play in relation to the theme of justice: Oedipus finds Polynices unjust, because he covers up his real, political motivations with good-sounding talk about concerns for his father's well-being. Oedipus finds Theseus just, however, because he is a man of his word--he promises to protect Oedipus and reflects his words in his actions.




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Lines 1193-1645 Quotes
It isn't good for men with a decent cause
to beg too long, or a man to receive help,
then fail to treat a fellow victim kindly.
Related Characters: Antigone (speaker), Oedipus
Page Number: 1366-1368
Explanation and Analysis:

Antigone speaks these lines to Oedipus after he (initially) refuses to speak with Polynices.

Antigone believes that Oedipus should give Polynices a chance; considering that Oedipus just received help (having his daughters returned) from Theseus, Antigone feels that Oedipus should heed Polynices' request. In this way, Antigone likens Polynices to a potential victim whom Oedipus might help by speaking with him. Even though Polynices has wronged his father, Antigone seems to think that ignoring him would be an act of injustice by Oedipus; permitting Polynices to speak and have a chance to atone for his wrongdoing would be an act of justice. Further, Antigone reiterates here the logic of Oedipus's former claim to "never honor the gods in one breath / and take the gods for fools the next." To fully honor the justice of Theseus's actions, she feels, would be to honor Polynices' request to speak--this would affirm justice by paying Theseus's help forward.

Goodbye, dear ones.
You'll never look on me again, alive.
Related Characters: Polynices (speaker), Antigone, Ismene
Page Number: 1631-1632
Explanation and Analysis:

Polynices speaks these lines to Antigone and Ismene after he is condemned by Oedipus.

Polynices accepts Oedipus's curse--that he will die in battle at the hands of his brother. He has no doubt that the curse will come true. Here, we see the real power of prophecy--Polynices has total faith in Oedipus's words, and entirely changes how he thinks about the future. From now on, he will not go into battle with any hope of winning. Polynices has begun to directly live towards his death, and his death alone--there is nothing for him to do or hope for, except to regret the way he has treated his father in the past. 

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Antigone Character Timeline in Oedipus at Colonus

The timeline below shows where the character Antigone appears in Oedipus at Colonus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-576
Guilt Theme Icon
Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Theme Icon
...is now a sorry sight, blind and hobbled, dressed in rags, led by his daughter Antigone. (full context)
Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Theme Icon
Redemption and Atonement Theme Icon
Oedipus tells Antigone that acceptance is the lesson taught by his suffering. He then asks Antigone to find... (full context)
Guilt Theme Icon
...tell him he must step out of the grove of the Furies. He does, with Antigone's help, and sits on a rocky area just outside the grove. The chorus ask his... (full context)
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Antigone appeals to the citizens' pity and humanity. Oedipus says they should not drive him out... (full context)
Guilt Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
A rider approaches—it is Ismene, Oedipus's other daughter. Oedipus, Antigone, and Ismene have a heartfelt reunion, and then Ismene delivers her news: Oedipus's two sons... (full context)
Lines 577-1192
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
Just then, Antigone gives an alarm that Creon is approaching. Creon enters and says he has come not... (full context)
Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Theme Icon
...orders his guards to take Oedipus's two daughters away, toward Thebes. As the guards seize Antigone and Ismene, the chorus condemns this action but is unable to stop them. When Creon... (full context)
Lines 1193-1645
Justice Theme Icon
Theseus returns with his attendants, escorting Antigone and Ismene. Overjoyed and relieved to see his daughters, Oedipus thanks Theseus profusely and asks... (full context)
Guilt Theme Icon
Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Theme Icon
Oedipus doesn't want to see his son, but Antigone and Theseus argue that there's no harm in listening. Oedipus agrees to see Polynices, and... (full context)
Guilt Theme Icon
Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Theme Icon
Antigone says a man is approaching, alone, in tears. Polynices enters. He is miserable, and weeps... (full context)
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
...Polynices asks his sisters to give him a proper burial if Oedipus's curses come true. Antigone begs Polynices to call off the attack on Thebes. Polynices refuses—he has been humiliated by... (full context)
Lines 1646-2001
Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Theme Icon
As the messenger stops speaking, Antigone and Ismene enter, chanting a funereal dirge. Answering questions from the chorus, Antigone confirms the... (full context)
Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Theme Icon
Redemption and Atonement Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...since to grieve too much after Oedipus received such a blessing might anger the gods. Antigone begs to see her father's tomb, but Theseus says he cannot allow it, citing his... (full context)