Free «Comparison and Contrast of Antigone's and Socrates' Refusals» Essay
Antigone's and Socrates' refusals are historical moments that prove about bravery, determined character, confidence of people who were able not to obey a higher power like the Athenian court and king. In order to understand the entity and meaning of both refusals, it is necessary to compare and contrast them. The main objective of this essay is to reveal a historical value of Antigone’s and Socrates' refusal, define their similarities and differences.
Antigone's refusal concerned not obeying the king's command to bury her brother. “That must be your excuse, I suppose. But as for me, I will bury the brother I love”, states Antigone (Sophocles 55). Her words showed their love and devotion to her brother and her family obligation to bury him in spite of Creon's refusal.
The historical value of this refusal dealt with the development of people who were self-confident, proud and brave and put their family values above king's ones. Another important factor here was rebelling of young woman Antigone that proved about the desire of a woman to be in the equal terms with men. Creon was a tyrannical king that refused Antigone that is why in the history he was a symbol of tyranny and dictatorship. When Creon died, his fame and image died with him. As to Antigone, she was a historical personality, a symbol of bravery, self-sacrificing and rebel against tyranny and dictatorship. She was not afraid of tyranny and showed all her dissatisfaction with Creon's rules and laws.
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Creon as a mean and tyrannical ruler was opposed to a strong and brave Antigone. Moreover, Antigone sacrificed herself for brother's honour that is why she was executed by Creon. “This death of mine is of no importance; but if I had left my brother Lying in death unburied, I should have suffered (Sophocles 370)”. These words proved about the family obligation of Antigone to bury her brother.
As to Socrates' refusal to obey the Athenian court not to engage in philosophy, it also had a historical value. However, comparing with Antigone's refusal, Socrates' refusal had another character. Socrates was executed in Athens for his interest and development of philosophical studies that contradicted the vision of democracy in Athens. Socrates’ trial and death for the sake of the Athenian democracy were the reasons for forbidding of the development of philosophical studies. Philosophy was a sense of life for Socrates that is why there was nothing strange that he was not afraid to express his attitude to democracy in Athens. “I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy…(Plato 23)”, states Socrates in his apology to the Athenian people. These words already showed his readiness to die but not refuse from philosophy that was his sense of life.
“Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven… (Plato 23)”. That statement was Socrates' accusation leading to his execution. Without a doubt, it was ridiculous. However, admitting it Socrates would betray philosophy as an affair of his life. In his conversation with Crito, his friend, Socrates talked about death as his honor and duty (Plato 2).
The similarity between Antigone's and Socrates' refusals is evident. First of all, both Antigone and Socrates were brave, self-sacrificing, ideological and devoted people. They both were not afraid of rebelling against the king and laws. Another similarity was that Socrates and Antigone ended with the execution for not obligation. Both refusals had a legal context as Antigone and Socrates insisted on their rightness despite threats of execution. Antigone's and Socrates' refusals had the ethical context as the court and king had chosen immoral actions for condemning Antigone's and Socrates' behaviours. Another similarity between Antigone's and Socrates' touched their insistence on their perspective and not desire to change it even under the influence of king and court. Both Socrates and Antigone were not ethically obliged to submit to execution for their refusals and disagreement.
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Besides, one can distinguish the differences between Antigone's and Socrates' refusals. First of all, their refusals had different meaning. Antigone's refusal had a family character that revealed her love, devotion, sympathy, pain and sadness to her brother. Socrates' refusal concerned his life affair, philosophy. Socrates believed that his philosophical teaching contributed the development of the Athenian society. Philosophy was his ideology that is why he could not refuse from it.
Antigone's refusal concerned King Creon and his tyrannical policy. It means that Antigone did not agree with his decision and rebelled against it. Socrates' refusal addressed to the Athenian court and legal laws that were against philosophical studies. Moreover, in Athens philosophy was not democratic and forbidden study. In their conversations with other people, Antigone and Socrates had different subjects for discussions. For Antigone that was her brother. For Socrates that was the philosophy in Athens.
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that Antigone's and Socrates' refusals have historical value as they are symbols of rebelling and disagreement against dictatorship and tyranny that had a name “a democracy.” Without a doubt, both refusals have similarities and differences. The similarity is that Socrates and Antigone ended with the execution for not obligation and commitment to the laws. The crucial difference between refusals is in their meaning. Antigone's refusal has a family character. Socrates' refusal concerns his life affair, philosophy.