Skip to main content

Antigone, Interrupted

Author: Bonnie Honig

Antigone, the heroine of Sophocles' famous 5th centruy play and a nearly universal figure of civil disobedience admired today worldwide by lawyers and activists alike, has been absorbed into a juridical (legal) rather than a democratic (political) frame of (dis)obedience. In this project, I develop a new reading of this ancient play as depicting not a heroic solitary dissident of conscience (the maintream reading), but rather as  a political activist who acts in solidarity with (some) others on behalf of a political cause, not on behalf of the mere private, cultural concern with burying her brother (as is usually thought) . The older reading of the play anchors the idea that legal remedies are the best approach for intractable political problems. The reading I develop, justified by contextual 5th century evidence, suggests that even such legal remedies cannot escape the politicality they seek to transcend - through proper procedures, and through resort -- when these fail -- to exceptional measures such as civil disobedience.


Summaries and findings

Sarah Rebecca Roland Inaugural Lecture
Feb 9, 2010
Antigone’s Lament, Creon’s Grief: Mourning, Membership and the Institution of Exception
Sep 10, 2008

All summaries and findings »

Site design by Webitects

© 2018 American Bar Foundation (
750 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611-4403
(312) 988-6500
Contact Us
Media Contacts
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in ABF publications are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Bar Foundation or the American Bar Association. The AMERICAN BAR FOUNDATION, ABF and related seal trademarks as used by the American Bar Foundation are owned by the American Bar Association and used under license.