Haemon’s monologue in “The Burial at Thebes”

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Haemon addresses his father in the house with humility and gentleness. When doing so, he muses, “What is the point of punishing the living for the sins of the dead?” If anything, Polynices’ death should be sufficient retribution for his error of challenging his brother for the sake of the throne. Furthermore, it is very cruel of my father to want to embarrass Polynices by leaving his dead body on the battlefield without a burial.”
“Polynices resorted to battling his brother to death for his claim to the throne,” he adds. If my father knew this, then why would he disgrace him and honor Eteocles- who was the valiant? Anyways, perhaps he has his reasons. Nonetheless, I have to intervene and save the life of Antigone, or else my father will punish her for her disobedience. She was only trying to do what she felt was right, much as her action goes against the orders of my father.” He attempts to save Antigone because he believes that her actions were ethical and that the father was bias in his decision to disgrace Polynices. “…Ethical persons, however strongly motivated to do what is ethically right, can do so only if they know what is ethically right” (16). In their view, Paul and Elder affirm that ethical actions are guided by a belief that what an individual is doing is right.

He carries on with the monologue, “I will pledge allegiance to my father and try to persuade him to spare Antigone. After all, the life of the living is more important than the pride of the dead.” Haemon realizes that if he does not intervene, then Antigone will be punished by his father. Therefore, he rationalizes Antigone’s action in an ethical perspective and attempts to save her from her predicament with a notion that her actions were moral (Mastin n.p). Paul and Elder emphasize that “Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications and consequences” (17). This argument relates to Haemon’s action in that he reorganizes the dire consequences that might befall Antigone if he does not intervene.

Work Cited

Mastin, Luke. “Antigone – Sophocles – Ancient Greece – Classical Literature.” Classical Literature – Tragedy, Lyric Poetry, New Comedy, Satire, Epic Poetry … and Much More, 2009, www.ancient-literature.com/greece_sophocles_antigone.html. Accessed 16 June 2017.

Paul, Richard, and Linda Elder. The thinker’s guide to understanding the foundations of ethical reasoning. Foundation Critical Thinking, 2006.

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