The Chorus introduces the group of actors. Antigone is a girl who will rise up alone and die young. Haemon, Antigone's fiancé, chats with Ismene, Antigone’s sister. Though one would have expected Haemon to go for Ismene, he inexplicably proposed to Antigone on the night of a ball. Creon father of Haemon is king of Thebes, bound to the duties of a ruler.
The Chorus recounts the events leading to Antigone's tragedy. Oedipus, Antigone and Ismene's father, had two sons, Eteocles and Polynices. Upon Oedipus' death, it was agreed that each would take the throne from one year to the next. After the first year, however, Eteocles, the elder of the two brothers, refused to step down. The brothers killed each other in a duel, making Creon king. Creon ordered Eteocles to be buried in honor and left Polynices to rot on the pain of death.
It is dawn, and the house is still asleep. Antigone sneaks in and the Nurse appears and asks where she has been. Suddenly Ismene enters, also asking where Antigone has been. Antigone sends the Nurse away for coffee. Ismene declares that they cannot bury Polynices and that she must understand Creon's intentions. Antigone refuses and orders Ismene to go back to bed. Suddenly Haemon enters and Antigone asks Haemon to hold her with all his strength. She tells him that she will never be able to marry him. Bewildered, Haemon departs. Ismene returns, terrified that Antigone will attempt to bury Polynices despite the daylight. Antigone reveals that she has already done so.
Later that day, the nervous First Guard enters and informs Creon that someone has buried Polynices's body last night. He orders the guards to uncover the body and keep the matter secret.
The Guards enter with the struggling Antigone. Creon appears, and the First guard explains that Antigone was found digging Polynices' grave by hand in broad daylight. Creon sends the guards out. Creon asks if Antigone thinks her being Oedipus's daughter puts her above...