Coming Soon to Hour 25: Sophocles’ Antigone


~ A guest post by Jessica Eichelburg ~

Over the course of the last several months, members of the Community Development team have created a “Hero-ized” version of Sophocles’ Antigone.  Our team included members who have experience reading this text in ancient Greek, and members who were reading this text in English for the first time. The Antigone Team used digital tools such as the Perseus Digital Library to find all the instances of the Core Vocabulary  terms in the original Greek and add tags at those appropriate places in the English translation. At times, we also revised the translation of the Core Vocabulary terms. Our goal was to work collaboratively and to use procedures that could be replicated by future teams—especially individuals with little or no previous experience with the ancient Greek language.

As we combed through the text, tagging the Core Vocabulary of Greek terms used in the HeroesX project, this seemingly simple task became difficult and challenging, not only because of our varying levels of proficiency working in ancient Greek, but also due to the clarity and allusive density of Sophocles’ language. Initial debates on how to be consistent in our translations of Core Vocabulary overlapped with suggestions of new Core terms to add, and overflowed into broader questions of interpretation.  How do we capture the range of meaning of these key Greek terms as the play unfolds and the circumstances between Antigone, her sister, uncle, and dead brothers intertwine with questions of divine and human justice?  The intricacy of Sophocles’ poetry defied simple translation and instead unfolded into a series of questions, both large and small.

We will publish this text here on Hour 25 in a few days. Over the next several months we welcome the opportunity to engage in a broader and deeper conversation with the Hour 25 community as we explore together this complex and somber play.  We propose a series of activities that include a holistic discussion in Book Club, a performance of selected passages by secondary students in the US and Greece, close readings of focus passages followed by discussions via Google+ Hangout and in the Forum; word studies, and meetings with scholars to discuss this monumental text and its place in defining tragedy and the tragic.

Picture credit

Beautiful Greek woman statue, Wikimedia, Creative Commons