The Chorus descends from the top of the staircase and introduces the players to the audience. It begins with Antigone, explaining that she is about to "burst forth as the tense, sallow, willful girl" who will rise up alone against the king and die young. With the rise of the curtain, she began to feel the inhuman forces drawing her from the world of those who watch her now. They watch with little concern, for they are not to die tonight.
The Chorus then introduces the chatting pair, Haemon, Antigone's dashing fiancé, and Ismene , her radiantly beautiful sister. They recount that though one would have expected Haemon to go for Ismene, he inexplicably proposed to Antigone on the night of a ball. He does not know his engagement only earns him the right to die sooner. The Chorus then turns to the powerfully built Creon, king of Thebes. When he was younger, and Oedipus ruled, he was an art patron. The death of Oedipus and his sons bound him to the weary duties of rule. Next to the sisters' Nurse sits the good Queen Eurydice. She knits and will go on knitting until the time comes for her to go to her room and die. The Messenger stands against the wall, brooding over his premonition of Haemon's death. Finally the Chorus presents the three red-faced, card-playing guards . They are common policemen, bothered by the worries of the day-to-day, eternally innocent, indifferent, and prepared to arrest anyone under any leader.
The Chorus then recounts the events leading up to Antigone's tragedy. During their recitation, the stage goes dark, a spotlight illuminates the faces of the Chorus, and the characters disappear through the left arch. Oedipus, Antigone and Ismene's father, also had two sons, Eteocles and Polynices. Upon his death, it was agreed that they would each take the throne from one year to the next. After the first year, however, Eteocles, the elder, refused to step down. Polynices and six foreign princes charged the seven gates of Thebes and all were defeated.