Imagine if your beloved brother was refused a fundamental right by the king after he died and if you tried to fight it, you would die too? Antigone is an ancient Greek play, written by Greek playwright Sophocles that was was believed to be published around 441 BC. It is about a girl named Antigone who goes against King Creon’s wishes and buries her brother Polyneices. Polyneices was not buried because he and his twin brother Eteocles were not able to share the throne in Thebes due to pride and greed, and they killed each other. The difference, however, is that Creon allowed Eteocles to be buried, but the punishment for even mourning Polyneices is punishable by death. This is wrong and unfair. If Creon was a king truly focused on justice and equality, he would have buried both of them. Creon should have buried Polyneices because he would gain more trust with his people, it is the Gods state that all people must be buried in order to gain entry into the afterlife and that he perfectly fits Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero.
One of Creon’s strongest character traits is self-infatuation. He believes that his word goes and nobody else’s, which is how he gets into trouble. With this attitude, he carries himself in a very pretentious way, and the people of Thebes pick up on that, which creates a disconnect and eventually a disdain between The King and his people. In “Ode To Man,” which is a very famous speech made by the chorus, they state: “Shatters too the cheeks of birds and traps them in his forest headlights, salty silvers roll into his net, he weaves it just for that, this terribly quiet customer. He dooms animals and mountains technically, by yoke he makes the bull bend, the horse to its knees”. (Antigone lines 377-416). The entirety of the speech is about death and how it is unpreventable. In this passage more specifically, they speak about how Creon has the capability to entrap animals, in this case, and manipulate them. This is a metaphor for how he manipulated the two brothers, but then only serving one in the right manner.
A large part of Greek Mythology is that there is a long and rigorous journey to get to the underworld including paying to go across a river and passing a series of tests to gain access. However, to even get down there in the first place, you must be buried. In the legitimate laws of the Ancient Greek Gods, they state that everyone must have had at least a chance to gain entry into the underworld, therefore everyone must be buried. To break this rule was very frowned upon and therefore, nobody broke this rule. The fact that Polyneices was not buried is an extreme deal because this practically never happened. Creon thinks that he is more powerful than the gods and his decisions override God’s orders, and he even states that he thinks that the Gods will not even honor Polyneices because he did a bad thing. “The gods favor this corpse? Why? How had he served them? Tried to loot their temples, burn their images, Yes, and the whole State, and its laws with it! Is it your senile opinion that the gods love to honor bad men? A pious thought!” (Antigone 240-243) Creon is not authorized to make decisions of this scale and should have left it in the lap of the Gods.
“A tragic hero is a literary character who makes a judgment error that inevitably leads to his/her own destruction”. (Aristotle). Creon is defined as a tragic hero because, at the beginning of Antigone, he was a fair and just king who did not give anyone a reason to hate him. However, he gains an inflated ego that prevents him from making rational decisions and ends up with his whole family dead. Also, most tragic heroes have some hamartia, which is a fatal flaw. In Creon’s case, his fatal flaw is pride. Creon’s thinking that he is more powerful than the Gods gets him in trouble.
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