English jurist William Blackstone once said, “No enactment of man can be considered law unless it conforms to the law of God.” Although this was said at a different time and age than Ancient Greece, it still applies to the same concept Antigone teaches readers. In Antigone, Sophocles demonstrates through the characters Antigone, Ismene, and Creon that the divine laws always come before the states, no matter what the circumstances are.
Antigone is a prime example on how the people should put the gods’ laws before any state law. She strongly and truly believes that every person, good or bad, deserves a proper burial, mainly because that is what the gods would want. She says to Ismene at one point in the play “You may do as you like, since apparently the laws of the gods mean nothing to you” (Prologue, line 60). She is implying that Ismene isn’t doing at all what the gods would want, and that she is being as repulsive as Creon. Later, when she is brought in to see Creon for burying Polyneices, he starts questioning her over-all motives for burying her brother and going against his new law. She replied, “It was not God’s proclamation. That final justice that rules the world below makes no such laws” (Scene 2, line 57). Antigone is simply stating that since it was not a decree justifiable by the gods, it wasn’t a decree she would expect herself or any other person to follow. Even though characters like Antigone have been straightforward about their opinions throughout the entire play, there are some whose views seem to change by the end.
Antigone’s careful and withdrawn sister, Ismene, is one of the many characters whose opinion on Creon’s new law changed throughout the play. In the beginning, Ismene thought that Antigone going against Creon was absurd. She said, “They (the gods’ laws) mean a great deal to me; but I have no strength to break laws that were made for the public good” (Pardos, line 60). Ismene follows...