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Themes and Colors
Blindness vs. Sight Theme Icon
Natural Law Theme Icon
Citizenship vs. Family Loyalty Theme Icon
Civil Disobedience Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Antigone, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Natural Law Theme Icon

Creon, as head of state and lawgiver in Thebes, believes in obedience to man-made laws. But in defying Creon's command that no one bury Polynices, Antigone appeals to a different set of guidelines—what is often called "natural law." Whether its source is in nature or in divine order, natural law states that there are standards for right and wrong that are more fundamental and universal than the laws of any particular society.

Antigone believes that the gods have commanded people to give the dead a proper burial. She also believes she has a greater loyalty to her brother in performing his burial rites than she does to the law of the city of Thebes that bans her from doing so. The wishes of the gods and her sense of duty to her brother are both examples of natural law. To Antigone, these outweigh any human laws. In Antigone, Sophocles explores this tension and seems to suggest—through Antigone's martyrdom, the people's sympathy, and Creon's downfall—that the laws of the state should not contradict natural laws.

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Natural Law ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Natural Law appears in each section of Antigone. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Natural Law Quotes in Antigone

Below you will find the important quotes in Antigone related to the theme of Natural Law.
Lines 1-416 Quotes
I have longer
to please the dead than please the living here:
in the kingdom down below I'll lie forever.
Related Characters: Antigone (speaker)
Page Number: 88-90
Explanation and Analysis:
I will suffer
nothing as great as death without glory.
Related Characters: Antigone (speaker)
Page Number: 112-113
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 417-704 Quotes
Like father like daughter,
passionate, wild…
she hasn't learned to bend before adversity.
Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Antigone
Page Number: 525-527
Explanation and Analysis:
Blest, they are truly blest who all their lives
have never tasted devastation. For others, once
the gods have rocked a house to its foundations
the ruin will never cease, cresting on and on
from one generation on throughout the race—
like a great mounting tide
driven on by savage northern gales,
surging over the dead black depths
roiling up from the bottom dark heaves of sand
and the headlands, taking the storm's onslaught full-force,
roar, and the low moaning
echoes on and on
Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker)
Page Number: 656-666
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 705-1090 Quotes
Whoever thinks that he alone possesses intelligence,
the gift of eloquence, he and no one else,
and character too…such men, I tell you,
spread them open—you will find them empty.
Related Characters: Haemon (speaker), Creon
Page Number: 791-794
Explanation and Analysis:
Am I to rule this land for others—or myself?
Related Characters: Creon (speaker)
Page Number: 823
Explanation and Analysis:
Love, you mock us for your sport.
Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Antigone, Haemon
Page Number: 894
Explanation and Analysis:
I go to wed the lord of the dark waters.
Related Characters: Antigone (speaker)
Page Number: 908
Explanation and Analysis:
You went too far, the last limits of daring—
smashing against the high throne of Justice!
Your life's in ruins, child—I wonder…
do you pay for your father's terrible ordeal?
Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Antigone
Page Number: 943-946
Explanation and Analysis:
But if these men are wrong, let them suffer
nothing worse than they mete out to me—
these masters of injustice!
Related Characters: Antigone (speaker), Creon
Related Symbols: Antigone's Tomb
Page Number: 1019-1021
Explanation and Analysis:
Still the same rough winds, the wild passion
raging through the girl.
Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Antigone
Related Symbols: Antigone's Tomb
Page Number: 1022-1023
Explanation and Analysis:
Lines 1091-1470 Quotes
Then reflect, my son: you are poised,
once more, on the razor-edge of fate.
Related Characters: Tiresias (speaker), Creon
Page Number: 1099-1100
Explanation and Analysis:
Take me away, quickly, out of sight.
I don't even exist—I'm no one. Nothing.
Related Characters: Creon (speaker)
Page Number: 1445-1446
Explanation and Analysis:
The mighty words of the proud are paid in full
with mighty blows of fate, and at long last
those blows will teach us wisdom.
Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Creon
Page Number: 1468-1470
Explanation and Analysis: