He is a very interesting character to me because he can be perceived in many different ways. For example, one person may view him as a horrible tyrant king due to his unwillingness to alter his decree. Another may see him as a king that made some wrong decisions but was looking out for the best interest of his new city and got more far more punishment than he deserved. I view him as a king who was trying to deal with his insecurities by gaining absolute power.
I wondered why Creon had decreed that Polyneices could not be buried. He called him a traitor but it seemed odd that Creon would take such personal offense to his actions. Upon thinking I reached this conclusion; the city was the state and the state in Creon’s mind was himself. So, when Polyneices attacked the city he was attacking the very throne that Creon was holding.
By not allowing him to be buried, the king was showing the rest of Thebes that he was not going to let anyone touch his throne; essentially sending out a warning to everyone lest they too should want to challenge him. He was a king who wanted to rule in absolute authority over his people and was a little scared that something might threaten his ability. This is why I believe he made the decree before he even entered the city and repeated it right after he arrived. He wanted them to know from the very start that he did not want to be challenged.
On page 196 he says this, “Nevertheless, I say to you at the very outset that I have nothing but contempt for the kind of Governor who is afraid, for whatever reason, to follow the course he knows is best for the State. ” He shows his desire for this absolute power again when Haimon comes to him and he tells his son that it good to be completely subordinate to him and in everything else according to his (Creon’s) will. On page 218 he screams out, “Anarchy, anarchy! Show me a greater evil!”One statement he made cleared up any doubt in my mind, proving that his desire was for absolute power. “I’ll have no dealings with law-breakers, critics of the government: whoever is chosen to govern should be obeyed, in all things great and small, just and unjust!” (p.
217)Creon’s false pride is the result of his insecurities. He displays them often through out the play. Whenever someone disagrees with him he automatically assumes it is a plot against him. “No, from the very beginning there have been those who have wishpered together, stiff-necked anarchists, putting there heads together, scheming against me in the alleys.
“(to the sentry, p. 201) When the sentry and Teiresias suggest that he might be doing the wrong thing he accuses them both of being paid off as part of a conspiracy against him. When Haimon asked him to change his decree Creon accused him of being “sold out to a woman”. Even with Antigone he doesn’t sentence her until she insults him (p. 209).
Creon will not accept the idea that he might be wrong on an issue because if he does in his eyes it would make him a weak king (something he fears being) and that is why he resists changing the law so avidly. I also noticed that whenever someone made a good point, he would quickly change the subject and accuse that person of treason. His insecurities are further displayed when he denies responsibility for Antigone’s death twice (pp. 212, 227). In the end he gives into his own humanity and stops pretending to know everything.
Unfortunately his false pride and insecurities led him to complete disaster but there is hope of him learning this very painful lesson in the end. In conclusion, Creon proves he is quite human in with his insecurities and his delusions. Interestingly enough these attributes caused his downfall as well as almost all dictators (who also desire absolute power). I would have to say that Sophocles knew human nature vBibliographyAntigone