Antigone Burial Rights

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The Burial Rights of a Traitor Both in fiction and in present day reality, controversies regarding the treatment of enemies and traitors exist on a large scale. Whether the person betrayed his family and friends or whether she broke the king’s law, there are consequences to actions. The specific consequences differ according to an individual’s worldview and his or her position in society. Such arguments are present in an ancient Greek drama, Sophocles’ play Antigone (442 BCE), and were debated in 2013 regarding the burial of a suspected terrorist bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, in Boston, Massachusetts. In Antigone, the problem arises when Antigone attempts to bury her brother, Polyneices, who King Creon had declared as unworthy of burial. In Massachusetts, the controversy spiraled among the citizens of Massachusetts, the government, and also the cemeteries about Tsarnaev’s burial site. The main issue involves the dispute between natural and man-made law; whether or not Polyneices and Tsarnaev should have burial rights regardless of their actions is a complex situation to resolve. Other matters also emerge to the surface: in Antigone, patriarchy in society and culture is highlighted, and in the Tsarnaev controversy, communal affinity and exclusivity mark their power. These themes surrounding the burial rights of an individual are controversial because they are directly related to their own context and culture; patriarchy was an important aspect of Greek culture and therefore
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