Allusions in Antigone The Background for Act IV & Ode IV Tantalos and Niobe “How often I have heard the story of Niobe, Tantalos’ wretched daughter, how the stone clung fast about her, ivy-close: and they say the rain falls endlessly and sifting soft snow; her tears never done. I feel the loneliness of her death in mine.” --Antigone, Scene IV, p. 225 Tantalos and Niobe • Tantalos was a son of Zeus • He was a favorite of the gods • Tantalos did the unthinkable: –He killed his son Pelops –He chopped up Pelops and cooked him –He served Pelops to the gods • The gods were not amused. Tantalos and Niobe • Tantalos was punished: forced to stand in a pool in Hades –Unable to lower his face to the water to drink –Unable to reach the copious fruit over his head • His punishment is the source of the word tantalize Tantalos and Niobe • Niobe was Tantalos’ daughter • She was married to a king of Thebes and became very wealthy • She was also the mother of seven beautiful daughters and seven handsome sons • She demanded to be worshipped by the people of Thebes Tantalos and Niobe • The people of Thebes worshipped Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis • Leto was not pleased with Niobe’s pride, and so she sent her children to kill all of Niobe’s children Tantalos and Niobe • Niobe was so anguished that she sat very still, like a stone, with tears • She eventually turned into a stone, motionless, but still wet with tears Persephone “O tomb, vaulted bride-bed in eternal rock, soon I shall be with my own again where Persephone welcomes the thin ghosts underground.” --Antigone, Scene IV, page 227 Persephone • Persephone was the daughter of Ceres, goddess of grain • Hades, god of the Underworld, had kidnapped Persephone to marry her • Ceres spent months searching for her daughter instead of making grain grow Persephone • Ceres heard that Persephone was in the Underworld and asked for her daughter to be returned • Zeus agreed to order Persephone’s return as long as Persephone did not eat the food of the Underworld • Persephone, in hunger, had eaten a few pomegranate seeds Persephone • A compromise was reached: –For each seed she ate (some say six, some say four) Persephone would stay one month with Hades out of the year –Ceres, during those months, mourns her daughter’s time away and refuses to help grain grow Danae “All Danae’s beauty was locked away in a brazen cell where sunlight could not come: A small room, still as any grave, enclosed her. Yet she was a princess too, and Zeus in a rain of gold poured love upon her.” --Chorus, Ode IV, p.228-229 Danae • Danae was the beautiful daughter of Acrisius, king of Argos • Acrisius was told the Oracle of Delphi that he would have no sons, but Danae would have a son who would kill him • Acrisius would not kill his daughter for love and fear of the gods Danae • He built a house of bronze for Danae and sunk it into the ground with a tiny window for some light and air • Zeus visited Danae in the form of a golden rain • Danae secretly gave birth to a son, Perseus Danae • Acrisius placed Danae and Perseus in a box and dropped it in the sea • The two were rescued. • Perseus later became the killer of Gorgons Dryas’ Son and Dionysos “And Dryas’ son also, that furious king, bore the god’s prisoning anger for his pride: Sealed up by Dionysos in deaf stone, his madness died among the echoes. So at last he learned what dreadful power his tongue had mocked: for he had profaned revels, and fired the wrath of the nine Implacable sisters that love the sound of the flute.” –Chorus, Ode IV, p. 229 Dryas’ Son and Dionysos • • • • What can we infer from this excerpt? Who is Dionysos? What was Dryas’ son guilty of? How does this relate to Antigone?