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Oedipus And Creon: Leaders Of Thebes

In the plays Oedipus the King and Antigone Sophocles portrays two characters, Oedipus and Creon, as rulers of Thebes. After the murder of Laius, former King of Thebes, Oedipus became leader when he successfully solved the riddle of the Sphinx. Some time later, Creon became King of Thebes as the result of his nephews deaths. "Oedipus is a good ruler in spite of his defects. Creon is a bad ruler in spite of his virtues." This essay will discuss Oedipus and Creon as rulers of Thebes.

In the eyes of the townspeople, Oedipus is seen as a good leader. He demonstrates the qualities any good leader possesses. When Oedipus learned of the plague that had spread through the town he immediately took action before the town confronted him with their fears. Upon meeting with the town, he notified them of his actions and his understanding of their concerns regarding the outcome of Thebes. Oedipus says, "You can trust me. I am ready to help, I'll do anything. I would be blind to misery not to pity my people kneeling at my feet" (Sophocles 159). We see that Oedipus is sympathetic to their needs and concerns and dependable as he had already sent his brother-in-law to gain information from the oracleUpon Creon's return from the oracle, Oedipus demonstrates his honesty, truthfulness, and determination as leader. Creon states, "If you want my report in the presence of these people…I'm ready now, or we might go inside" (Sophocles 163). Oedipus responds by asking Creon to report right then and there suggesting that he has nothing to hide and only truth to share with Thebes. The news from the oracle suggested that the only way to end the plague was to remove the source of Laius's death, either by banishment or murder. Oedipus immediately seeks out to uncover the murderer of the former king. These qualities are those admired in a leader, like Oedipus, but hard to find in Creon.

Creon, unlike Oedipus, is seen as a poor leader of the town, Thebes. The qualities with which he rules are unlikable. Creon immediately instills a sense of fear as he acknowledges the absolute power he possesses in his initial speech as ruler of Thebes. "Whoever refuses to adopt the soundest policies but fearing someone, keeps his lips locked tight, he's utterly worthless. And whoever places a friend above the good of his own country, he is nothing" (Sophocles 67). Furthermore, Creon issues a decree to his...

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Comparison Between Creon and Antigone in Oedipus the King

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In the Oedipus plays, two of the major characters include Creon, the brother in law of Oedipus and Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus. Although these two characters play different roles in the plays Oedipus the King and Antigone, they share a lot of similarities.

Basically, one of the similarities that Creon and Antigone have is that the burdens that they carried throughout the plays were passed down to them by Oedipus following his downfall and exile. After Oedupis’s exile, Creon assumed the throne of Thebes and took control of the city.

Although his intentions in ruling Thebes are pure, like Oedipus who refused to listen to the blind prophet when he told him that he was the one who murdered his father, Creon’s judgment was blinded when he initially refused to give proper burial rites to his enemy, Polynices, Oedipus son.

As a result, Antigone, hanged herself, causing her lover Haemon, Creon’s son, to kill himself as well. Likewise, Antigone inherited the stubbornness of his father when she defied Creon’s order deny the corpse of Polynices, her brother, a proper burial. For her defiance, Creon had her thrown into a tomb, where she committed suicide through hanging.

In short, both Creon and Antigone were affected by Oedipus’s tragic downfall as he apparently passed down his misfortunes to those who succeeded him and to his family members.

Antigone herself said this in her conversation with her sister, in which she said “My own flesh and blood—dear sister, dear Ismene, how many griefs our father Oedipus handed down! Do you know one, I ask you, one grief that Zeus will not perfect for the two of us while we still live and breathe? There’s nothing, no pain—our lives are pain—no private shame, no public disgrace, nothing I haven’t seen in your grief and mine.”

In other words, Antigone spoke as if tragedies are passed down in Oedipus’s family like they were family heirlooms.

Moreover, both Creon and Antigone exemplified also suffered the same losses. Creon lost his son, Haemon, and his wife, Eurydice who both committed suicide while Antigone lost her father, Oedipus, and her two brothers, Polynices and Eteocles, who killed each other while fighting over who would rule over Thebes. In other words, both characters were left alone in their personal battles.

However, while the two characters share several similarities, they also have various differences. For one, Antigone acknowledges the past tragedies as shown in the quote above and uses them as a motivation to move forward. Moreover, she is more bold and prudent than Creon as shown during their confrontation in which he asked her why she was defying him and she answered, “I didn’t say yes. I can say no to anything I say vile, and I don’t have to count the cost. But because you said yes, all that you can do, for all you’re crown and your trappings, and your guards—all that your can do is to have me killed.”

On the other hand, Creon is a manipulative and narrow-minded person as shown in his initial refusal to believe in the blind prophet’s prediction. His personality is best shown in his description of Thebes wherein he said, “Anarchy—show me a greater crime in all the earth! She, she destroys cities, rips up houses, breaks the ranks of spearmen into headlong rout. But the ones who last it out, the great mass of them owe their lives to discipline. Therefore we must defend the men who live by law, never let some woman triumph over us. Better to fall from power, if fall we must, at the hands of a man—never be rated inferior to a woman, never.”

In sum, while both characters share similarities due to their close relationship with Oedipus, they also have differences that distinguish their characters. Antigone is a realistic, decisive yet stubborn character while Creon is a person who holds himself in high esteem but later realizes he is human as well.

Works Cited

“Oedipus the King.” 2008. The Internet Classics Archive. 3 April 2008 <http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/oedipus.html>.

“Antigone.” 2008. 2008. The Internet Classics Archive. 3 April 2008 <http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/antigone.html>.

Author: Russell Ransom

in Antigone

Comparison Between Creon and Antigone in Oedipus the King

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