Antigone: an inspiration
Antigone is the name of a Canadian organization that encourages young women to get involved in politics. They have a magazine, a website and are in the process of setting up a charitable foundation that would support women under 35 who decide to pursue a political career.
Antigone Rising is the name of all female singing groups from New York, who perform rock and pop music in four-part harmony. They play about two hundred concerts a year and recently signed a contract with a major record label.
Antigone is the name of the young heroine of an ancient Greek tragedy written by Sophocles. Antigone rebels against the leader of her state when she tries to stop him from doing what she believes is right. She wants to provide an honorable burial for a war hero. Her state leader, who had political differences with the deceased, orders her body to be left out in the open for the birds to feed on. Antigone insists that such an undignified burial will displease the gods and is disrespectful and immoral. She buries the body herself and is punished by death for doing so.
Antigone is an inspiring character. His story has been retold by great artists like Mark Rothko, famous musicians like Mendelssohn, and countless playwrights who have rewritten Sophocles’ original drama and set it in their own time. There are operas about Antigone, poems that tell the story of him, and the US Navy even named one of its World War I battleships after her.
Jean Anouilh, a French playwright created his version of Antigone during the Nazi occupation of Paris. It’s easy to see why the ancient Greek story about a single person having the courage to stand up to their ruler could be seen as subversive in an occupied country. Perhaps that is why Anouilh’s Antigone was not released until after the end of World War II.
Perhaps the most legendary performance of Antigone took place at Robben Island Prison in South Africa in the 1960s, when some of the inmates arranged to perform the work at their annual Christmas concert. Nelson Mandela, imprisoned on Robben Island due to his political efforts to end apartheid in South Africa, played one of the leading roles.
Antigone is an unlikely hero. She is young. She is a woman. She is also the daughter of Oedipus and comes from a highly dysfunctional family. However, these factors do not prevent him from following her consciousness.
In her valedictory address to the graduating class of the prestigious Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Rachel Issacs encouraged her classmates to have the courage of Antigone. She hoped that her generation would not be afraid to take a moral stand and would have the imagination to create new ways to protect the rights of each individual just as Antigone did.