The famous Greek playwright, Sophocles, is well known for his many impressive works, but two plays stand out in particular, Oedipus and Antigone. Of the myriad characters in these two plays, Creon, without a doubt, is the most notable for his apparent change in disposition from one play to the next. When introduced in Oedipus, Creon is an amiable character whose loyalty to his king and country comes into question, but inevitably, his devotion is found to be unwavering. Creon did not appear to have ambitious goals of attaining authoritative power. However, this can later be refuted by his actions in Antigone. Although, still loyal to his country, Creon is now king and only has one priority, the continuation of his reign. His true disposition becomes apparent after he assumes the throne and becomes the King of Thebes. The about-face from carefree, likable brother-in-law/uncle, to a perversely autocratic king shows the genuine corruptive nature of absolute power.
In the beginning of the play Oedipus the King, Creon presents himself as a staunch man with a sensible head on his shoulders. At this time, he was only the brother-in-law to King Oedipus, but later events reveal that he was also his uncle. He did not have the quandaries of a kingdom upon his shoulders as Oedipus had, but the woes of an exasperated king. Creon was simply completing the task Oedipus set upon him to deliver the news from the Oracle at Pytho that could potentially alleviate the widespread epidemic that had been plaguing Thebes. Creon is elated to communicate the news from Apollo, “King Phoebus in plain words commanded us / to drive out a pollution from our land...” (Line 108-109). King Oedipus, inhibited by the uncertainty of how to accomplish this, inquires of Creon just exactly how the Gods proposed he was to set about obtaining retribution for the death of King Laius. Creon explained, “By banishing a man, or expiation / of blood by blood, since it is a murder guilt / which holds our city in this destroying storm” (114-116). He is more than willing to decree this purge until Teiresias, an old blind prophet whom he had Creon call upon, hesitantly accuses Oedipus of being the murder of whom he seeks. With this news, he quickly turns on Creon,”…If my friend, Creon, friend from the first and loyal, / thus secretly attacks me… / desires to drive me out…” (421-423), and this seeming betrayal of trust immediately makes Oedipus demand the death of Creon. Creon defended himself:
I was not born with such a frantic yearning /
to be a king -- but to do what kings do /
and so it is with everyone who has learned /
wisdom and self-control… /
the prizes are all mine—and without fear. (648-651)
Although he yearns to attain the acuminous insight of a king, he does not seek the responsibilities a king possess, so therefore he had no hand in corrupting the prophecy of Teiresias. After Jocasta’s pleading and the insistence of the chorus, Oedipus decides against execution...