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The situation,
The Aeschylean situation—contrast with the Sophoclean.
as it is thus left by the Seven against Thebes, is essentially different from that in the play of Sophocles. The Antigone of Aeschylus is not isolated in her action, but is escorted by a band of maidens who publicly avow their sympathy. Though the herald enters a formal protest, and hints that the rulers are likely to be ‘severe,’ yet he does not say that death is to be the price of disobedience, nor, indeed, does he specify any penalty. The Chorus represents average civic opinion; and one half of the Chorus openly defies the decree. A plot which began thus could scarcely end in the Council taking the heroine's life. It rather foreshadows a final solution which shall be favourable to her; and we might surmise that, in loosing the knot, Aeschylus would have resorted to a divine mandate or intervention. But the Antigone of Sophocles stands alone; the penalty of a dreadful death is definitely set before her; and, whatever the Thebans may think of Creon's edict, no one dares to utter a word of disapproval. Taking the two primary facts—the veto, and Antigone's resolve— Sophocles has worked in a manner which is characteristically his own.


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