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Interrogating Antigone in Postmodern Philosophy and Criticism$
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S. E. Wilmer and Audrone Zukauskaite

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199559213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559213.001.0001

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Sophocles' Antigone and the Democratic Voice

Sophocles' Antigone and the Democratic Voice

(p.168) 9 Sophocles' Antigone and the Democratic Voice
Interrogating Antigone in Postmodern Philosophy and Criticism

Judith Fletcher

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses the performative status of Creon's interdiction against the burial of Polyneices by tracing its trajectory throughout the play. It argues that although the interdiction seems to have institutional force, it is in reality a deformed speech act, since Creon does not possess the authority to make law. An Athenian audience of citizens would recognize that the democratic voice, necessary for the creation of law, has been silenced. Antigone offers a contesting speech when she announces that she will bury her brother; in her exchange with Creon she functions as an exemplar of democratic free speech. Antigone, however, does not possess the authority to say that she will bury her brother since this was not a role performed by women in fifth‐century Athens. Nonetheless she activates a shadow democracy whose critique of the interdiction in the streets of Thebes resembles the informal discursive processes of the Athenian legislature.

Keywords:   Athenian law, speech acts, democracy, gossip, gender and authority

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