How justice is portrayed in Sophocles’ Antigone and in Plato’s Republic.

Both Sophocles‘s Antigone (Famous Greek tragedy story) and Plato’s The Republic plainly represent and illustrate the conceptions of justice. When addressing justice both of the works illuminate their argument upon tyranny and immorality accompanied by death. Thrasymachus declares this while discussing with Socrates, saying “Don’t you know that some cities are ruled by a tyranny, some by a democracy, and some by aristocracy”.

Under the light of Antigone Death is used as a concept of representation to the consequence of bad decision making and selfishly given proclamation. Death is used as form of public punishment and getting justice against law disobedients and stubborn criminals.  In the case of Antigone when Ismene says : “He [King Creon] won’t treat the matter lightly [breaking and coming against the law’s rule] Whoever disobeys in the least will die, his doom is sealed: Stoning to death inside the city wall” (p.60, line 40). It underlines how death is important factor to justify the existence of justice and strength of the ruler, the one in power. Therefore, I do believe that, reading and discussing Sophocles’s Antigone might help us easily digest such complicated ideas represented in Plato’s republic, ideas  driven by philosophers like Socrates. For instance, Plato’s think about human soul and it is organization can be a breathtaking example of how King Creon have faced such painful tragedy by losing his most beloved family including his son and wife.

When we harm someone we make them worse, and that do not benefit us at all, instead it makes our enemy more unjust and worse because we deprive their virtue and purpose.


Antigone by Sophocles presented by Upstream Theatre at Kranzberg Arts Center in St. Louis, MO on Oct 9, 2014.

Moreover, Socrates’ argument about human’s virtue of life might be drowning and sophisticated if someone didn’t know how Creon’s selfish and immoral tyranny has ended with painful scenario of tragedy. Because any decision given badly might lead someone into worse condition like that of Antigone’s story. For instance, in the Republic Thrasymachus says, cheating, while defining what justice is, that “Justice is same everywhere, namely, the advantage of the stronger”. In Antigone things do not work like that. Socrates, who is known for his unique dialogue of teaching with questions, sharing ideas by analyzing the concepts concludes that, when we harm someone we make them worse, and that do not benefit us at all, instead it makes our enemy more unjust and worse because we deprive their virtue and purpose. Therefore, In the case of harsh ruler of Thebes, king of Creon, he punishes Antigone with stoning and burying her alive. saying “Take her away, quickly! Wall her up in the tomb, you have your orders, death or buried life with a good roof for shelter”. In order to justify his power through what he called justice under the cover of death and killing. And ultimately loses whatever was dear and valuable for him.


In addition, While reading Plato’s Republic it is very essential to glance back some certain scenes in Sophocles’s Antigone. As mentioned above, according to Socrates any decision given badly by harming more and making the enemy worse might lead into worse and unjust person. In Antigone we can see how Creon regrets and lamenting on his dying son as consequence of his unjust decision on Antigone and selfishness ruling for his own advantage. He says “Oh my child, What have you done? What seized you, what insanity? What disaster drove you mad? Come out my son! I beg you on my knees” where these lines could be interpreted easily in Plato’s republic of how the consequence of being unjust can be.

Photos source: Google Images.

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Mohamed (Azhari)

Wixii la qoraa quruumo haree, hadal muxuu qiimo leeyahay!!

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