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Oedipus And Creon: Leaders Of Thebes

1118 words - 4 pages

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 people that anyone who provides Polynices with a proper burial will face death. By enforcing the decree, Creon lacks sympathy for the beliefs of his town and his blood relatives, Antigone and Ismene.When the sentry enters with a message for the King we learn that Creon's rule focuses on threats and violence. The sentry hesitates to relay this message to Creon fearing that he would react harshly. Creon then demands that the sentry tell all that he knows. The sentry informs Creon that someone has defied the decree and given Polynices proper burial. Creon irrationally accuses the sentry;...

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