Fate in Antigone: The Red String That Ties It

Fate in antigoneFate in Antigone has been running after our Heroine since the events of Oedipus Rex. Her family’s curse goes back to her father and his transgressions. To further understand the irony of Antigone’s Fate, let us go back to Oedipus Rex, where it all began.

Oedipus Rex

The tragic life of Oedipus and his family starts at the birth of Oedipus. An oracle warns Jocasta, his mother, of the son’s vision to eventually kill his father, King Laius. Alarmed by this turn of events, the king orders a servant to take his child and drown him in the river, but instead of throwing the infant’s body into the shallow waters, the servant decides to leave him on the mountainside. As the servant goes, a shepherd from Corinth hears the cries of a newborn, he brings the child to the King and Queen of Corinth, and they adopt the poor baby. King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth welcome their son and name him Oedipus.

After a few years, Oedipus decides to trek to Delphi, where Apollo’s temple resides. He receives an oracle that he’d murder his father in cold blood, scared of harming his beloved parents, Oedipus settles in Thebes. On the journey to Thebes, Oedipus encounters an older man and argues with him. In a blind rage, he kills the man and his servants, allowing one to escape. He then defeats the sphinx loitering in front of the Theban gate. Since then, he is regarded as a hero and was permitted to marry the current queen of Thebes, Jocasta. Oedipus and Jocasta gave birth to two daughters and two sons, Antigone, Ismene, Eteocles, and Polyneices.

Years pass by, and rain seems to fall short on the land of Thebes. The drought were so severe that the people demanded Oedipus do something about the barren place. He decides to send his wife’s brother, Creon, to head to the temples and ask for help. There, Creon heads to the temple to ask for guidance and is given an oracle: the murderer of the previous emperor must be found to settle the issues of Thebes.

Creon’s words allow Oedipus to investigate the matter and lead to the blind prophet, Tiresias. Tiresias claims that Oedipus has completed his fate by killing his father, the previous emperor. Oedipus refuses to believe such words and is led to the sole survivor of the previous king’s massacre; the man that escaped him in his murderous rampage years ago.  Upset by this revelation, Oedipus looks for his wife to rage, believing she knew what had occurred long ago.

Jocasta kills herself upon the realization of her sins. Oedipus leaves his sons in charge of the throne while condemning himself; he brings Antigone with him, leaving Ismene behind to act as a messenger. In his quest, Oedipus is struck by lightning and dies in an instant, leaving Antigone alone. On her way back to Thebes, Antigone is aware of her brothers’ deaths and Creon’s unlawful decree.


In Antigone, the curse of Oedipus continues. Both Eteocles and Polyneices are dead, and Antigone is not far behind. She fights for Polyneices’ right to be buried and is sentenced to death in the process. Throughout her life, Antigone has been fighting the Fate of her family. Solely taking responsibility for their father and keeping up with the family they’d left behind. She was devoted to her family, and Creon was not going to stop her. She firmly believed in Divine laws that state all bodies must be buried in death to pass through the underworld and views Creon’s laws as subpar and unjust against the Divine laws they’ve upheld for centuries.

Antigone’s defiance against Creon for his tyranny is treason as she strongly goes against the tyrant’s commands. She valiantly fights for Polyneices’ burial and wins in the end. Despite getting caught and being sentenced to death, Antigone still buried her brother, completing her only goal. Because she was interred, Antigone decides to take her own life and join her family in the process, accepting her unfortunate end. Despite this, she displayed her bravery for all to see. She gave hope to those fighting opposition and freedom of thought.

Fate vs. Free Will Antigone

Antigone quotes about fate symbols of fate and destinyIn Sophocles’ trilogy, the concept of Fate is wrapped solely around the free will of our characters. Despite receiving oracles of their fates, their actions are theirs alone. For example, in Oedipus Rex, Oedipus received his prophet reasonably early in life. He’d already assumed he was adopted and, hence, knew that anyone he’d kill could be his father. Yet, he allowed himself to give in to his rage and slaughtered a random older man and his party, which ironically belonged to his biological father.

In a sense, Oedipus could have controlled his temper or sworn off any violent tendencies in fear of proving the oracles correct. His will is that of his own. He had the freedom to choose his Fate yet allowed himself to fulfill the prophecy. Because of his mistakes, his transgression, his family is cursed by the gods, and Antigone had to give up her life to end it.

Antigone Quotes About Fate

Fate in the Greek tragedy is described as the will of the gods, that the gods and their whims are controlling man’s future. Some quotes on Fate are as follows:

“I know it too, and it perplexes me. To yield is grievous, but the obstinate soul That fights with Fate is smitten grievously” As Creon states this, he realizes that the punishment and Fate he so desperately tried to push aside was useless as the gods always had a way to punish them. He had learned from the mistakes of Oedipus and thought his decree.

“O sister, scorn me not, let me but share. Thy work of piety, and with thee die.” States Ismene as she begs to share her sister’s consequences.

“Claim not a work in which thou hadst no hand; One death sufficeth. Wherefore shouldst thou die?” Refuses Antigone for she did not want her sister to die for her mistakes. In this, we see Antigone choosing to let Ismene live despite the Fate of their family.

“Yea, for thou chosed’st life, and I to die,” Antigone says one last time as she chooses to die by her hands than to allow Creon to take hers.

These are some of Antigone’s quotes relating to Fate. Some choose to accept their Fate, and some choose to defy it; either way, Fate is an essential part of Greek tragedies. It shows us the character of each individual. Are they subservient to their Fate? or will they strongly defy it?

Symbols of Fate and Destiny

Antigone’s red string of Fate and destiny does not stop at mere quotes from our crucial character. Symbols are also utilized by Sophocles’ to reiterate the path of Antigone’s Fate. One of the most significant symbolism of such is Antigone’s entombment.

Notably, entombment is meant for the dead, and Antigone’s punishment of being entombed alive in the cave symbolizes her loyalty to the dead, and as such, her Fate, as directed by King Creon, is to join them alive. She is imprisoned alive in a cave with little food, just enough for survival to avoid having Antigone’s blood on Creon’s hands.

Antigone’s imprisonment in a tomb meant for the dead can also be interpreted as an insult to the gods. The gods had decreed that the deceased, and only the deceased, must be buried, yet Antigone was entombed alive. Creon’s almost blasphemous acts attempt to invert the balance of nature, placing himself on par with the gods and trying to reign control over their territory. Therefore, his punishment is losing his son and wife for such atrocious acts against the gods and their believers.


Now that we’ve talked about Fate, free will, and its implications in the Greek tragedy, let’s go over the fundamental principles of this article.

  • Fate vs free will antigone antigone and oedipusFate is described by the predetermined path of a character laid out by the gods and given through oracles or symbolisms in Greek tragedies.
  • Antigone has been trying to run away from her Fate from the very beginning of the play, refusing to heed her family’s curse.
  • Despite her efforts, she meets her end by protecting the divine laws, ending her family’s unfortunate curse, and saving Ismene’s life and Polyneices’ soul in the process.
  • Antigone accepts the Fate the gods have laid out for her but refuses to heed Creon’s plans, and so she kills herself before he can take her life.
  • Fate and free will are embroiled together in the Sophoclean tragedy; the actions and attitude of each character are what exactly brings them to their Fate, coming full circle with the oracles given to them. Because of this, Fate and free will forever be tied together by a red string.
  • Antigone’s entombment symbolizes her Fate to die due to her loyalties, and as an insult to the gods Creon wishes to defy, she desperately buries her dead. Brother, and so she deserved to be buried as well.

In conclusion, fate and free will are tied together in the Greek tragedy. The fate of our beloved Heroine is entangled in her free will; her actions, attitude, and brazen nature are what exactly brings her full circle into her destiny. And there you go! Fate and free will in Antigone and the red string that ties it.

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