The character of Antigone is a separate question from
Character of Antigone.
Her relation to Ismene.
Her relation to Haemon.
The reaction in Antigone's mind.
Men near to Zeus; for whom on Ida burns,
High in clear air, the altar of their Sire,
Nor hath their race yet lost the blood divine1.
Few things in tragedy are more pathetic than this yearning of hers, on the brink of death, for some human kindness of farewell, thus ‘mocked’2, as she feels it to be, by a cold assurance of renown. She turns from men to invoke ‘the fount of Dircè and the holy ground of Thebes’; these, at least, will be her witnesses. In her last words, she is thinking of the dead, and of the gods; she feels sure of love in the world of the dead; but she cannot lift her face to the gods, and feel sure that they are with her. If they are so, why have they allowed her to perish for obeying them? Yet, again, they may be with her; she will know beyond the grave. If she has sinned, she will learn it there; but if she is innocent, the gods will vindicate when she is gone. How infinitely touching is this supreme trouble which clouds her soul at the last,—this doubt and perplexity concerning the gods! For it is not a misgiving as to the paramount obligation of the ‘unwritten laws’ which she has obeyed: it is only an anguish of wonder and uncertainty as to the mysterious ways of the powers which have laid this obligation on mortals,—a surmise that, as gods and men seem alike without pity for her, there has perhaps been something wrong in her way of doing the duty which was so clear and so binding.