Why You, an American Citizen should Read the Greek Tragedy: Sophocles’ “Antigone”

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia/Vladoubido Oo

 

Politics was more than a game for the citizens of Athens; like religion, it rested on the dim but real perception of an unchanging moral law that was not manmade but revealed through the conscience. As Paul suggests, in the absence of the direct revelation of Scripture, it is precisely through the conscience that God speaks the rudiments of his law. In reading Antigone, we who live this side of the Enlightenment and the New Testament see that our ethical struggles and debates, both political and spiritual realms, are not all that different from those of fifth-century B.C. Athens. In America today, the legal and judicial battle over the nature of choice, whether it relates to homeschooling and school vouchers, abortion and euthanasia, or sodomy laws and gay marriage, ultimately pits the wants and needs of the individual against those of society as a whole. Even issues like states’ rights, gun control and social security are framed in a family-versus-polis paradigm that bears comparison with the central dilemma of Sophocles’ play. Furthermore, and this is where the connection becomes the most trenchant, when Americans debate these issues, they eventually attempt to call on a higher law against which the two sides of the debate can be measured. And it is not just traditional orthodox Christians who do so. In the case of gay marriage, for example, many secular progressives appeal to what they perceive as a higher law of inclusivism and egalitarianism to justify their side of the argument.

-Louis Markos, From Achilles to Christ: Why Christians Should Read the Pagan Classics (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2007), p.152.

Brett Brett (39 Posts)

PhD Student in Pastoral Theology at Southern Seminary. Married to Rachael. Father of two girls and a boy. Louisville, KY.


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