Aristotle's Poetics and Sophocles' Antigone


Aristotle’s Poetics and Sophocles Antigone are vital pieces of ancient literature that brings forward important ideas, related to different issues in society. Aristotle is, majorly, recognized for his philosophical works, while Sophocles is also widely recognized for his artistic pieces relating to literature. Both Aristotle and Sophocles wrote articles that related to their country, Greece, with intent to reveal particular issues in the society and describe some individuals. Their pieces of work, Poetics and Antigone respectively, contain both some similarities and differences. For instance, both works have elements of tragedy, present in the fate of the main characters. On the other hand, the authors differ in the interpretation of a tragic hero. The writers also use various themes for their works, hence bringing an element of distinction between the works. Each of these writers had different perspectives relating to their intention to produce their specific works. Thus, there are both similarities and differences between Poetics and Antigone.

This paper explicates the similarities and differences between Poetics by Aristotle and Sophocles’ Antigone.

According to research, in both Poetics and Antigone, characters are exposed to some forms of tragedy. In both works, the authors used tragic elements in order to express the nature of the characters. Tragedies enable readers to understand the characters, and be able to draw characteristics relating to them. They are also vital, because they enable readers to determine the kind of characters the author has used to pass an intended message. In Poetics, Aristotle used the character of Oedipus to bring out the concept of tragedy. He emphasizes that a tragedy would most often be associated with an individual of influence in the society (Tierno 100). For instance, it is easy to find tragic elements in Oedipus’ fait, because he was one of the most renowned kings. Aristotle asserts that if one strings together a set of expressive speeches of a character, one would not produce the essential tragic effect. This means that tragic effects would be best brought out through the main characters in any piece of work written. Therefore, he emphasizes that Oedipus is faced by tragic events, because of his extreme pride after being crowned a king. In fact, Oedipus is exposed to a tragedy because of his bad actions, such as killing of other individuals in the society. Sophocles’ Antigone also has elements of tragedy in relation to its characters. All characters are exposed to tragedy in order to reveal their true characters and determine what they would be able to do. Antigone is exposed to a personal tragedy, because of her fighting for the rights of other citizens in the state. She faces the death at the end of all her efforts to save the state from poor leadership. She was a true citizen, who wished to build a democratic country where everyone would be able to express him/herself. Her tragedy is in her braveness. Sophocles asserts that a single word frees people of all weight and pain of life, and that word is love. This is to show the fight for equality in the society by Antigone (Sophocles, and Johnston 40).

Research intimates that both the Poetics and Antigone reflects on the theme of pride. Aristotle and Sophocles expose the theme of pride through description of arrogant leaders, who did not care about their state. They would only care about their interests in order to satisfy themselves. Oedipus, the King, was ruthless. His main motive was to expose individuals to suffering and even kill other innocent individuals in the state. In addition, he was so proud that he would not listen to other individuals for vital pieces of advice. All that he wanted was to gain profits out of other people’s struggles. The pride is a cause of his tragedy and leads to the punishment at the end. According to Aristotle, Oedipus was a pompous and arrogant individual. He did not care about other individuals in the society because he regarded them as being of no help. The worst action for Oedipus was killing his father in order to marry his own mother. In fact, this contributes to his excessive suffering at the end. Similarly, the top leaders in Antigone’s state were proud and could not take care of the welfare of citizens. Leaders, such as Creon, were too arrogant and blinded with the powers they possessed. They believed that the most effective way to lead a state was by killing innocent citizens in order to get the required information. Through their actions, all citizens were subjected to torture until true diplomats, such as Antigone, came up to oppose them. In the end, Antigone was killed, in the process of liberating the citizens. Sophocles asserts, “show me the man who keeps his house in hand, he is fit to run a state.” This quote implies that Antigone was one of the people to revolutionize the state, because she had the courage to fight the mightier in the society (Sophocles, and Johnston 55).

The chorus in Aristotle’s Poetics is meant to provide connectivity between the stanzas. According to research, Aristotle insists that the chorus in his work is in place in order to ensure that there is connectivity between the stanzas in the poem. It makes the poem and the story memorable to the readers (Tierno 130). In addition, it facilitates easier readability and understandability among readers. Aristotle points out that the chorus in his work is meant to make the poem enjoyable and attractive. It would be more effective in cautioning citizens and educating them further on the required issues. According to Aristotle, “Dramatic action is not with the view of representing the character, as character comes in as a subsidiary to the actions.” This is used to emphasize the role played by the chorus in the play. On the other hand, Sophocles holds that the chorus is an indication of the public outcry. It shows how individuals agitate for their rights in the society. The rhythmic nature of a chorus indicates the repetitiveness of the public cries in seeking a way to provide better leadership for the society. According to Antigone, a chorus enables citizens to present their grievances in one voice. They are given an opportunity to present their grievances and cries to bad leaders by chanting the same words over time. Sophocles asserts that chorus is likely to bring good news to all citizens, and hence they are acceptable among all populations (Sophocles, and Johnston 56). They are good news messengers. To reinforce the statement, Sophocles asserts that nobody likes a man who brings bad news. This is to emphasize the acceptability of chorus as a tool of public outcry.


In conclusion, there are both similarities and differences between Aristotle’s Poetics and Sophocles Antigone. They are related to literary terms especially concerning the theme, chorus, and characters. The characters in both works are exposed to tragedies at some point of their lifetime. Oedipus suffers due to the murder of his father, even though he murdered him intentionally, in order to marry his own mother. Antigone suffers because of her contest for the rights of her people. She is subjected to murder by cruel leaders who did not care about the rights of citizens in the state. The role of chorus also differs in Poetics and Antigone. According to Aristotle, a chorus is meant to provide connectivity between the stanzas in order to make the item memorable for all readers/viewers. This means that individuals, reading the work, would not forget the message being passed across. Sophocles, on the other hand, points out that a chorus represents public outcry due to the repeated nature of its words. It is a tool of truth in the society.

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