The Significance of Divine Law - Does it Provide Justification for Crimes against the State?.
The importance of divine law versus the adherence to the laws of the state is a major theme explored throughout the play, Antigone. Creon (the king of Thebes) denounces Polyneices (Antigone's dead brother) as a traitor, for he battled against his own city in a war. He has left the dead body of Polyneices unburied and out in the open as carrion. The king then says that anyone who tries to give Polyneices a proper burial will be stoned to death. Antigone, inspired by divine law, makes the decision to bury her dead brother's body; both she and Creon provide justification throughout the play as to why they chose to act in the ways they did. .
In the beginning of Act II, the Sentry (one of Creon's guards) enters to tell Creon that Polyneices has been buried. The idea that the gods may have buried the body is brought up by the Chorus; however, Creon dismisses the idea, claiming that the gods would never honor a traitor with a burial. Creon then orders the Sentry to find the person who has buried the body. Later in the act, the Sentry enters again, this time with Antigone. The Sentry tells Creon that Antigone is responsible for giving Polyneices the rites of burial. Creon asks Antigone if this is true. Antigone informs him that, indeed, she is the one who has buried Polyneices. Then, for the remainder of the act, Antigone and Creon engage in a verbal argument. Antigone's argument is intended to justify her actions in taking responsibility to bury her brother. Creon aims to justify his decision to let Antigone's dead brother rot. He also wishes to validate his choice to punish Antigone. Both Antigone and Creon base their actions on their beliefs of what is right and wrong. Thus, their quarrel arose because of their contrasting morals. The reader may feel moved to decide who is right. Act II throws out some ideas that should help the reader make his/her decision.