Democracy and Antigone

45 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2010 Last revised: 18 Apr 2010

Date Written: February 10, 2010


This essay explores democracy, sexuality, gender and legal practices using the frameworks of law and literature. Law and Literature as an enterprise is commonly said to have two distinct strands. One strand focuses upon an artistic product and elaborates the legal themes within it. The other strand focuses upon a legal product, such as a notable United States Supreme Court opinion, and examines its artistry, including its rhetorical or cinematic qualities. This essay explores both strands as well as the territory where the two strands meet.

This essay’s artistic focus is the mythical and literary figure of Antigone. In addition to the standard Sophocles’ version, this essay explores Antigone in the works of French playwright Jean Anouilh, Nigerian playwright Femi Osofisan, and South African playwright Athol Fugard.

This essay’s legal focus is several cases interpreting the meaning of mythical and Greek words. A court in Athens Greece decided a claim about the permissible usage of the term "lesbian," the United States Supreme Court has interpreted the term “Olympics, ” and trademark litigation has considered the term “dyke.”

The confluence of these two strands of literature and law involve further explorations of Sappho as a poet and historical figure, of Derrida’s work on democracy and brotherhood, and of the meaning of “sisterhood” in feminist and legal texts.

Keywords: Democracy, Greek, Antigone, Sappho, Olympics, Sexuality, Gay, Lesbian, Derrida, Brotherhood, Aristotle

Suggested Citation

Robson, Ruthann, Democracy and Antigone (February 10, 2010). Stetson Law Review, Vol. 39, p. 3, 2009, Available at SSRN:

Ruthann Robson (Contact Author)

CUNY School of Law ( email )

2 Court Square
Long Island City, NY 11101
United States

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