43). In The Odyssey, Jocasta demonstrates loyalty to her family by urging Odysseus to give up his pursuit for the truth. She literally begs him to stop quarrelling with Creon but he refuses to listen to her. He becomes obsessed to Jocasta's demise. When he tells his wife, "I will not listen; the truth must be made known" (Sophocles Oedipus 825), she knows that she has lost her husband. The additional cost for Jocasta will be her marriage and, finally, her life. From these situations, we learn that duty is not something that can be had for free. Even in ancient times, individuals were confronted with choices to make for or against something they believed in. These choices involve some sort of sacrifice and it does not matter when these kinds of situations occur - sacrifice is a part of life and, more importantly, a part of human character.
These ancient transcripts also educate us in the arena of familial values in that although family relations are significant, they are not always positive. In Antigone, we find that Antigone's relationship with her uncle is filled with rigidity. Because he is king, he can demand a certain amount of reverence from her and he can even offer her guidance. However, this does not mean that she will respect him and most of the tension in the play stems from their relationship. The tension in their relationship certainly does not dissuade Antigone from anything. After Creon asks her if she broke the law, she tells him, "I did it. I don't deny a thing" (Sophocles Antigone 492). She can admit to him that death does not frighten her and anything he could do to her is "precious little pain... This is nothing... I've been accused of folly by a fool" (Sophocles Antigone 520). In this scene, we see how little anything else means to her. Once she has made up her mind, there is no going back. We also see stress in Aeneas' family when he turns away from Dido. We have no doubt that he is in love with her but he is reminded by Mercury that he has an obligation to his family. He dealt with his desire and "though he sighed his heart out, shaken still/With love of her, yet took the course heaven gave him/And went back to the fleet" (Virgil 110). Aeneas had to abandon his passion for a superior sense of duty that included his family. Jocasta and Oedipus also experience tension in their relationship because Oedipus is so determined. Oedipus goes to great lengths to cause Jocasta stress, including questioning the messenger and arguing with Creon. Jocasta does everything she can to keep Oedipus from finding out the truth - even getting into arguments with him. She learns that she is fighting a battle that cannot be won because Oedipus is more concerned about his heritage than anything and he cannot see the bad that can come from it like she can. These situations allow us to see how family relationships are complicated, regardless of when these stories take place.
Some facets of life never seem to change despite the changes the world and mankind endures. Antigone, and Oedipus, and The Aeneid. Illustrate how matters of the family represent some of the most stable indicators of humanity through lesson of duty. We could turn any one of these stories into a prime-time show and not only would most of the nation watch, they could also relate. From a young girl dying for what she knows to be the truth to a young man learning about the importance of life through war and a loving wife doing everything she can to protect her family, we see duty stretched above and beyond its limits. In some cases, it wins and in others, it does not, teaching us that the value lies not in the outcome but in the intent of one's actions. These individuals teach us that we learn about life through family.
Sophocles. Antigone. Three Theban Plays: Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus and Colonus. Robert Fagles, trans. New York: Penguin Books. 1980.
Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Three Theban Plays: Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus and Colonus. Robert Fagles, trans. New York: Penguin Books. 1980.