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ANTIGONE, (1) in Greek legend, daughter of Oedipus and Iocaste (Jocasta), or, according to the older story, of Euryganeia. When her father, on discovering that Iocaste, the mother of his children, was also his own mother, put his eyes out and resigned the throne of Thebes, she accompanied him into exile at Colonus. After his death she returned to Thebes, where Haemon, the son of Creon, king of Thebes, became enamoured of her. When her brothers Eteocles and Polyneices had slain each other in single combat, she buried Polyneices, although Creon had forbidden it. As a punishment she was sentenced to be buried alive in a vault, where she hanged herself, and Haemon killed himself in despair. Her character and these incidents of her life presented an attractive subject to the Greek tragic poets, especially Sophocles in the Antigone and Oedipus at Colonus, and Euripides, whose Antigone, though now lost, is partly known from extracts incidentally preserved in later writers, and from passages in his Phoenissae. In the order of the events, at least, Sophocles departed from the original legend, according to which the burial of Polyneices took place while Oedipus was yet in Thebes, not after he had died at Colonus. Again, in regard to Antigone’s tragic end Sophocles differs from Euripides, according to whom the calamity was averted by the intercession of Dionysus and was followed by the marriage of Antigone and Haemon. In Hyginus’s version of the legend, founded apparently on a tragedy by some follower of Euripides, Antigone, on being handed over by Creon to her lover Haemon to be slain, was secretly carried off by him, and concealed in a shepherd’s hut, where she bore him a son Maeon. When the boy grew up, he went to some funeral games at Thebes, and was recognized by the mark of a dragon on his body. This led to the discovery that Antigone was still alive. Heracles pleaded in vain with Creon for Haemon, who slew both Antigone and himself, to escape his father’s vengeance. On a painted vase the scene of the intercession of Heracles is represented (Heydermann, Über eine nacheuripideische Antigone, 1868). Antigone placing the body of Polyneices on the funeral pile occurs on a sarcophagus in the villa Pamfili in Rome, and is mentioned in the description of an ancient painting by Philostratus (Imag. ii. 29), who states that the flames consuming the two brothers burnt apart, indicating their unalterable hatred, even in death.

(2) A second Antigone was the daughter of Eurytion, king of Phthia, and wife of Peleus. Her husband, having accidentally killed Eurytion in the Calydonian boar hunt, fled and obtained expiation from Acastus, whose wife made advances to Peleus. Finding that her affection was not returned, she falsely accused Peleus of infidelity to his wife, who thereupon hanged herself (Apollodorus, iii. 13).

Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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