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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Sophocles' tragedy of dilemmas, where King Creon threatens death to anyone who buries a traitor and that traitor's sister, Antigone, defies him.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss what is reputedly the most performed of all Greek tragedies. Antigone, by Sophocles (c496-c406 BC), is powerfully ambiguous, inviting the audience to reassess its values constantly before the climax of the play resolves the plot if not the issues. Antigone is barely a teenager and is prepared to defy her uncle Creon, the new king of Thebes, who has decreed that nobody should bury the body of her brother, a traitor, on pain of death. This sets up a conflict between generations, between the state and the individual, uncle and niece, autocracy and pluralism, and it releases an enormous tragic energy that brings sudden death to Antigone, her fiance Haemon who is also Creon's son, and to Creon's wife Eurydice, while Creon himself is condemned to a living death of grief.


Edith Hall
Professor of Classics at Durham University

Oliver Taplin
Emeritus Professor of Classics, University of Oxford


Lyndsay Coo
Senior Lecturer in Ancient Greek Language and Literature at the University of Bristol

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

54 minutes

Last on

Thu 24 Mar 2022 21:30



Edith Hall at Durham University

Oliver Taplin at the University of Oxford

Lyndsay Coo at the University of Bristol


Douglas Cairns, Sophocles: Antigone (Bloomsbury, 2016)

Lyndsay Coo and P.J. Finglass (eds.), Female Characters in Fragmentary Greek Tragedy (Cambridge University Press, 2021)

Helene P. Foley, Female Acts in Greek Tragedy (Princeton University Press, 2001)

B. Goff (ed.), History, Tragedy, Theory: Dialogues on Athenian Drama (University of Texas Press, 2011), especially “Tragedy and Democratic Ideology: The Case of Sophocles’ Antigone” by Helene Foley

Simon Goldhill, Reading Greek Tragedy (Cambridge University Press, 1986)

Justina Gregory (ed.), A Companion to Greek Tragedy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008)

Edith Hall, Greek Tragedy: Suffering under the Sun (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Bernard Knox, The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy (first published 1964; University of California Press, 1983)

E. Mee & H. Foley (eds.), Antigone on the Contemporary World Stage (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Kirk Ormand (ed.), A Companion to Sophocles (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)

Ruth Scodel, An Introduction to Greek Tragedy (Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Sophocles (trans. Anne Carson), Antigone (Oberon Books, 2015)

Sophocles (trans. Oliver Taplin), Antigone and other tragedies (Oxford University Press, 2021)

Sophocles (ed. Mark Griffith), Antigone (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

Sophocles (trans. H.D.F. Kitto, ed. Edith Hall), Antigone, Oedipus the King, Electra (Oxford University Press, 2008)

Sophocles (adapted by Blake Morrison), Oedipus/Antigone (Northern Broadsides, 2003)

George Steiner, Antigones: The Antigone myth in Western literature, art and thought (Clarendon Press, 1984)

David Stuttard (ed.), Looking at Antigone (Bloomsbury, 2016)

Oliver Taplin, Greek Tragedy in Action (first published 1978; Routledge, 2002)

Reginald Winnington-Ingram, Sophocles: An Interpretation (Cambridge University Press, 1980)


‘Sophocles’ Theban Rulers and Aristotle's Tyrant: Classical Greek Lessons on Deliberation and Concord’, by Edith Hall - Center for Hellenic Studies Lecture, Harvard University, January 2018

Antigone – Wikipedia


  • Thu 24 Mar 2022 09:00
  • Thu 24 Mar 2022 21:30

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