Greek Myth - Controversial Issues With Classical MythIn 'Antigone' the Greek hero and Antigone herself take on controversial issues in ancient Greek culture, a time when the upper class was also wealthy enough to keep an expensive tutor by their side. Written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author with the rare talent of bringing tragedy and prose to life, 'Antigone' is one of the greatest classics ever written by a woman.
In 'Antigone' when Persephone agrees to marry Hekateros (the great-grandfather of Persephone) the goddess Aphrodite becomes outraged and decides to avenge her daughter against the men who are in love with her. It doesn't take long for the younger goddess to get revenge on Hekateros and his four sons. However, she cannot win the support of the other gods, as they think that they will be able to help the younger goddess kill her father's killers.
Their central argument was based on the concept of motherhood. Zeus feared that Antigone would conceive children if she did not marry. Thus, he also agreed to do anything necessary in order to stop her from bearing children.
This is a classic example of political philosophy. Both Athens and Sparta (which later became Greece) considered that marriage or childbirth was the most important element in the life of a woman. Hence, any woman who could not be a mother was an unrighteous person. Both the Athenian democracy and the Spartan oligarchy consider it a crime to be unmarried.
The context of this story was about slavery and other issues of subjugation in ancient Greece. In Antigone and Shekateros quarrel, the story is told in flashback. The outcome was that the two families were now two completely different things.
Antigone was at home and did nothing to hinder the marriage and childbirth of her family. Hekateros died of old age while the husband remained in his prison cell. Hekateros was executed by Antigone herself, because, as her own mother had taught her, 'there is no cause for love'.
However, the story was a way to both portray a woman's life and to show how powerful she was over others. For that reason, the fable is one of the most famous in classical literature. The fable of Shekateros was later used by the church as justification for the infamous 'Black Legend' wherein the woman was painted as cruel and unjust.
Of course, 'Antigone' and other themes such as motherhood and slavery cannot be avoided by contemporary books on Greek mythology. Yet the question remains: can the Greek myth writer deal with controversial issues? It is a challenge but one which 'Antigone' and other Greek myths can easily handle.