The tragedy of Antigone

Image: Anh Nguyen


Hegel said that this is the most beautiful work of all time and also said that Greek tragedy will never be repeated again

In chapter IV, of book IV of phenomenology of the spirit, Hegel establishes a mechanism that moves history: it is the struggle for recognition. It is a fight in which two self-consciousnesses fight for pure prestige. This is more materialist than the class struggle, but it encompasses the class struggle.

What are you fighting for? For the desire of the other. This generates, on the one hand, the figure of the master who imposes himself as the owner of the work and on the other, the slave who, in order not to die, works for the master. The beauty of phenomenology of the spirit of Hegel, which is also a phenomenology in the sense of Husserl and Heidegger, is that it does not occur only at the level of self-confidence (self-awareness), but on a historical level.

In Book VI, the ancient world and ethical consciousness, Hegel mentions the tragedy of Antigone only once. Creon is the warrior, and in the ancient world, the masters are the warriors who wage war for recognition. Creon represents the universality of polis. Antigone represents the particularity of women. Against the polis universal, Antigone represents subterranean religiosity, that of chthonic religiosity (the Olympian is represented by Creon). Hegel said that this is the most beautiful work of all time and also said that Greek tragedy will never be repeated again.

Why is Antigone the true tragedy? Because there is no solution. Antigone must accept her fate and Creon hers, as in Oedipus Rex. There is no way for Antigone to assert her religious freedom before the polis. There is no power before the Greek polis. With the emergence of Christianity, la mauvaise conscience, and Roman law, we have a new phase in this struggle for recognition. In the Roman State that existed until the French Revolution, the slave is no longer a slave, he is a pseudo-slave, and the master is no longer a master, he is a pseudo-master.

This fight for recognition takes place in the desire for formal equality: sovereign state, freedom of contract, private property.

How is it possible, if there is no tragedy? After all, only Antigone is a tragedy, that is, only the Greeks are capable of creating tragedies. However, there are Shakespeare's tragedies. Hegel finely realizes that modern tragedies are tragedies written by intellectuals, closer to comedies. In Hamlet, at the end, the vision is exercised on the Dane who, after all that slaughter, will bring peace to the lands. This, however, is still not the true recognition, true recognition. In the era of Christian bourgeois law, you have pseudo-slaves and pseudo-bourgeoisie, but no true citizens.

Who eliminates the tragedy? The sovereign State, private property and freedom of contract and Napoleon, with human rights, in 1807. Hegel heard the cannons of the battle of Jena from his window and then concluded the phenomenology of the spirit. Synchronicity explains the end of the history of philosophy. The fight for recognition becomes real. On the one hand, a citizen who works and fights, on the other, the emperor who, according to Hegel, is the objective spirit that passed through his window.

Since 1807 there has been no more philosophy or need for struggle. The State becomes a Kantian, cosmopolitan State, with human rights. All are recognized homogeneously. “Professor, there has been a war since then”, would be a possible question. Not if you understand Aristotle: in act there is war, but in potential there is no more. O desire, desire, stolen by Lacan, ceases to be purely human. That's what Marx says: during the day they go hunting, at night they play billiards. Antigone only exists as a crime, not as a right. As a criminal, she violates the law of the polis and manages to recognize her religious freedom. In the post-Napoleonic State it is possible to do an ADIn. Even children are citizens.

It was recognized by the STF that the Sabbatarians are not here to defend their private interests, but their interests as citizens, after all, the ENEM has become mandatory, and before it was not. They want to participate in universal education. Hegel's analysis is so perfect that Kojève explained it to Lacan, in a course in 1936. Afterwards, Kojève died. He lived in a suburb, in Vincennes, and Lacan went to his house to steal the annotated copy of the phenomenology of the spirit. He was not against it, as the subject can appropriate all intellectual works.

*Ari Marcelo Solon He is a professor at the Faculty of Law at USP. Author, among others, of books, Paths of philosophy and science of law: German connection in the development of justice (Prism).

the earth is round exists thanks to our readers and supporters.
Help us keep this idea going.

See this link for all articles


  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • The STF, Artificial Intelligence and the Labor Courtsouto-maior_edited 07/06/2024 By JORGE LUIZ SOUTO MAIOR: The implementation of the replacement of the human being by AI presupposes that it has already been trained to act in the way desired by the ruling class
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table
  • Impasses and solutions for the political momentjose dirceu 12/06/2024 By JOSÉ DIRCEU: The development program must be the basis of a political commitment from the democratic front
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • Union registrationSUBWAY 11/06/2024 By LAWRENCE ESTIVALET DE MELLO & RENATA QUEIROZ DUTRA: The Ministry of Labor has decided to grant union registration to Proifes. However, union registration is not the same as union representation
  • Confessions of a Catholic LadyMarilia Pacheco Fiorillo 11/06/2024 By MARILIA PACHECO FIORILLO: Congenital reactionism is not only the preserve of evangelicals
  • Regionalist literature in the 21st centuryCulture the corridor 06/06/2024 By DANIEL BRAZIL: Commentary on Benilson Toniolo's novel
  • A myopic logicRED MAN WALKING _ 12/06/2024 By LUIS FELIPE MIGUEL: The government does not have the political will to make education a priority, while it courts the military or highway police, who do not move a millimeter away from the Bolsonarism that they continue to support
  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space