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Sophocles' Antigone Antigone Must Challenge Creon

889 words - 4 pages

Antigone Must Challenge Creon in Antigone

 

In his "Funeral Oration" Pericles, Athens's leader in their war with other city-states, rallies the patriotism of his people by reminding them of the things they value. He encourages a sense of duty to Athens even to the point of self-sacrifice. He glorifies the free and democratic Athenian way of life and extravagantly praises those willing to die for it. In Antigone, Creon, Thebes's leader in their recent civil war, also must rally the patriotism of his people. While he, too, praises the loyalty of his people, he does two other things to rally the citizens: he emphasizes his own qualifications for leadership, and he reminds them what happens to traitors.

    Creon speaks to his people at the beginning of Antigone because he is now the only ruler of Thebes, and he wants them to be loyal to him. He knows there's a chance they might not have faith in him because in Oedipus the King he claimed to be content to leave the active leadership to others. Also, he's not next in line to be the king after Laius, the late, beloved king. Even more important is the fact that Laius's grandchildren, Oedipus's sons Eteocles and Polynices, ended up on opposite sides of a war over Thebes. Some Thebans were probably loyal to Eteocles, but others may have been sympathetic to Polynices, who tried to take the throne away from his brother. Now Creon, the new leader, will have the best chance for success if he gets the people to forget about Oedipus and the terrible time of his rule, and about Oedipus's sons and the rebellion that divided their country. Although he does praise the Thebans for respecting the royal house of Laius, saying, "your loyalty was unshakable" (line 187), he wants them to realize that those men are gone and he's got the power now.

    In order to get their trust, Creon shows them that he's a good leader for Thebes, but he does this cleverly, sort of in an indirect way. Instead of boasting about how great he is, Creon talks about the qualities all Thebans admire. He reminds them that they all value experience, courage, and devotion to city:

As I see it, whoever assumes the awesome task of setting the city's course and refuses to adopt the soundest policies but fearing someone, keeps his lips locked tight, he's utterly worthless. (Antigone, lines 198-201)

    In saying this, Creon shows them he not only shares their values, but he is also the best example of these values. He is not going to keep his own "lips locked...

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