50) This image reminded me of the contrasting fates of the corpses of the embattled Theban royal twins Eteocles and Polyneices
at the start of Sophocles' Antigone, where Eteocles is given burial rights, but Polyneices
is left to rot.
As Moya Lloyd explains it, Antigone's choice: "exposes the weakness in paternal law, for that law cannot make her give up her 'impossible and death-bent incestuous love of her brother' Polyneices
or compel her to assume a 'normal' heterosexual position" (quoted in Lloyd 2007, 96).
Creon, in Antigone, is obsessed with punishing Polyneices
, even though he has died and his comrades have fled.
Antigone's brother Polyneices
has been killed in the course of a
, even after death, had to suffer for his impudence in his "unsepulchred," "unburied shame" and exposed to the elements as "a welcome store for the birds, as they espy him, to feast on at will," then black Americans, likewise, for their real or imagined impudence had to suffer the indignity of being similarly exposed to the elements, of being the "fruit for the crows to pluck/for the rain to gather/for the wind to suck/for the sun to rot/[and finally] for the tree to drop" (Holiday, "Strange Fruit").
30) Antigone is fully justified from her own narrative point of view in burying her dead brother Polyneices
, but so also is the king Creon in banning the burial, since Polyneices
died fighting as a traitor to the city.
Antigone's argument for disobeying Creon's order forbidding the burial of her brother Polyneices
, who had warred against Thebes, is that the order did not come from Zeus above or the gods below.
Insofar as Eliot's play is read as rewriting the Antigone, Claverton is Polyneices
, waiting to be buried, and Charles is Haemon, waiting for Antigone; his surname is, in fact, Hemington.
There is no reason to believe that leaving Polyneices
unburied is beneficial to society.
When Eteocles refused to turn over power at the end of his year, Polyneices
attacked the city The brothers died in single combat.
It will echo the tragic unfolding of Antigone, Oedipus' daughter, who defines Creon's -- the ruler of Thebes -- rule to not bury her brother Polyneices
as a means of punishment.
With this breakthrough, Vickers "solves" (the author again) longstanding problems on which scholars have disagreed: the reasons for Antigone's speech at Antigone 904-20; the madness, impiety, and deception of the title character in Ajax; inconsistencies in the plotting of Oedipus Tyrannus; Odysseus's trumpeting of his own immorality and Philoctetes' puzzling submission to Heracles in Philoctetes; Oedipus's rejection of his son Polyneices
in Oedipus at Colonus; and so on (177).