Thursday, December 12, 2013
Antigone (pronounced "ahn-TIH-goh-nee") is a Greek name meaning "against birth." The name suggests a lot of other figurative meanings. One of which is "against men," as the mythical Antigone defied the masculine authority common in Ancient Greek culture. It could also be interpreted as "unbending."
Antigone is the daughter of Jocosta and Oedipus, so she's a product of incest. The most famous myth regarding Antigone is a tragic one. After Oedipus' death, the kingdom of Thebes was left for his sons to rule. The plan was that they would take turns being the ruler, but Eteocles wanted all the power to himself. He cast out his brother Polynices, who set up an army to overthrow him. The battle wound up killing both brothers.
Creon, Jocosta's brother and Antigone's uncle, decided that Polynices was a traitor to Thebes. It was forbidden to provide any burial for his body, and instead it would be left out to rot and be eaten by animals. But Antigone ignored Creon's orders and buried her brother herself. She was captured and brought to Creon. There are various different endings to this story. In one, Antigone is walled up in a cave and left to die. In another, Creon orders Antigone's fiancé, Haimon, to take her and kill her. Haimon disobeys and steals her away where they eventually have a son named Maeon.
Apparently this particular myth strikes a cord with people. It has been quite popular as the years have gone by. It is the subject of many plays and operas. It is worth noting that there are two other Antigone's in Greek mythology but their stories are nowhere near as popular.
But it doesn't appear to have caught on as a given name. Not in America, at any rate. Nevertheless, there are a few real life namesakes. Antigone of Macedon and Antigone of Epirus were ancient noblewomen. Antigone Plantagenet of Gloucester was another noblewoman and the granddaughter of Henry IV of England. Most recently there is Antigone Kefala, an Australian poet.
Antigone is a heroine in ancient lore, and for that reason it should make an excellent namesake.