Antigone: the OtherTruth
The king of Thebes is a leader in a time when his country is under transition from one leader to another. The king has been illustrated as a man whose rule is tyrannical and oppressive. It is significant to dispute these assumptions and to illustrate king’s persona as understanding and good natured individual.
Creon’s good nature and intentions are in most instances good. His relationship the previous king saw Oedipus sent into exile and Creon taking Charge of his two daughters. Creon is a king who places his nation’s interests ahead of his own. He is sympathetic to Antigone’s actions and is not quick to condemn her to death (The Creon of Sophocles). The realization that Antigone has gone against his orders does not anger him but rather he wishes to save her from her actions fate.
The king’s compassion towards Antigone illustrates his attachment and value to human life. Significantly it illustrates his belief in preserving family bonds. Although, Antigone’s action of burying Polynices contravenes his directive he is not quick in sentencing her to death but rather tries to reason with her. He defends his action of declaring Polynices body to be left unburied as a lesson and inhibition to dissidents in the population.
Creon believes that an example must be made to deter future acts of dissension and to uphold the rule of law. His action of leaving Polynices body in the open may be seen as tyrannical, but in essence, it is an effort to remind people that all actions have consequences. He is quick to reiterate that though he may declare and proclaim laws; he is not above the law. In order to set an example among his people, he must follow the law (The Creon of Sophocles). These are characteristics of a law enforcing leader rather than those of a traitor. Although, in his good nature, he wishes to save Antigone, the king is unable to so. In order, to follow the law he is compelled to sentence Antigone to death as a result of her indifference to his pleas.
Creon’s hard rule is not symbolic to tyranny but rather to upholding the rule of law and preventing social and political crimes. His actions are a motivated by promoting peace and preventing uprising against his rule.
Creon’s reign is a result of the failure of the Oedipus son’s to agree on the terms of rule as stipulated by their father. Oedipus cursed them because of their greed to power and lack of cohesion between themselves. Oedipus though he come to be king of Thebes as a result of slaying the sphinx. The sphinx illustrates a representation of pestilence and suffering amongst the people. His act of killing her puts him in peoples favor and is considered a hero (Thebes Revisited). Although he does not realize it at the time, he kills his own father and marries his mother. These actions illustrate a cursed lineage whose end was prophesied. Oedipus realizing the gravity of his curse and the curse of his family decides to exile himself leaving his sons and Creon in charge of his affairs.
Thebes being a city state had previous controversies with Athens. Creon is seen to be an individual who not only wishes to preserve order within his country but also is willing to defend it from outside aggression (Thebes Revisited). The history of Thebes illustrates her as a superior state than Athens and Sparta a fact which has often led to confrontations with her neighbors.
Antigone’s struggle to see her brother buried illustrate is hysterical and unwavering. Her moral attributes can easily be interpreted as madness. Her actions are in contravention of the king’s edict. It is humanly unjust to leave a corpse to decompose above ground. The act of leaving a person unburied is a disgrace to his life’s memory and the immediate family.
The king’s edict to leave the body unburied aims at deterring dissensions in his rule and discoursing possible traitors. Antigone, however, does not see it that way. She is of the view that the king’s actions are tyrannical and aiming at dehumanizing the dead. She believes that her dead brother deserves to be buried. Despite the fact that she is a woman, she takes on a role which ordinarily is taken by men. She is determined to see that honor and respect is given to Polynices.
Her moral sense and obligation towards her brother’s body supersede any sense of danger to herself. She realizes she is her brother’s final line of defense against injustice. In contemporary, Greece social morals expect a king’s edict to supersede any other individual’s feelings or obligations towards another. In this respect, Antigone fails in her individual moral obligations taking precedent over the king’s edict (Antigone mirrors’). She fails to follow the norm as would be expected of anyone under the king’s rule. This makes her moral standing more of madness than an obligation to her dead brother.
The king is feels compassion towards her and is empathetic to her convictions but, he cannot save her from herself. Her moral convictions prevent her to see the king’s reasoning and overshadows her better judgment against such an action. She is aware that her actions will only lead to her death. Her passion blinds her from her future obligations as the mother of the future king. Her belief deters her from seeing any reason for living unless her brother is buried and has no wish to see the king’s lineage progress in such circumstances.
The differences arising between the king and Antigone can be attributed to either’s perspective on issues concerning their lives. In contemporary, Greece, the distinction between the sexes extended to moral, social and cultural obligations. These distinctions gave individuals of the opposite sex a different perspective on a given subject or issue. In the case of King Creon and Antigone, their perspective in regard to Polynice’s body differs fundamentally.
The king’s perspective illustrates a macro perspective. His view of leaving polynice’s body unburied is aimed at giving a lesson to the general population of his kingdom that traitors and dissents will not be tolerated (Risk subjectivity). His action is aimed at enforcing the rule of law and illustrating his willingness and capability to dispense punishment to those who undermine the law and his reign. His perspective though not devoid of a moral obligation towards the dead is inclined towards the achieving a greater objective in his kingdom.
However, Antigone’s perspective is entirely different. She is of the view that her brother’s body should be buried as is the norm. She believes adequate respect should be extended to the dead. She is of the view that it is the society’s social responsibility to see that the dead are adequately buried despite their actions. She has a micro perspective to the death of her brother and the general issues of his burial. Her perspective dictates that the family and the duties and obligations towards the family whether dead or alive supersedes any other aspect of life. Antigone fails to see Creon’s perspective and is adamant to see her perspective as the right and only discourse matters should take. It is her nature to perceive her family’s honor and wellbeing as a significant aspect of life.
The views and perspective of these individuals cannot align since they have differing objectives and results (Risk Subjectivity). Creon’s perspective as macro-perspective is symbolic to men’s perspective on issues; as opposed to Antigone’s micro-perspective, which symbolizes women’s, perspective on the same issue.
Antigone is stubborn in her convictions and refuses to relent to Creon’s and her sister’s reasoning. Her sister is aware that Antigone’s action is an action of suicide since going against the king’s edict will result in death. The strength of her beliefs and moral standing clouds her better judgment against rebelling against the king. The king, however, tries to save her from her predicament when he tells her to go and sleep. Her persistent and outburst in the presence of other people goes against the kings pride and sense of authority. He sees her as a failure in his ability to impose his will power and authority to his subjects.
The king realizes that leniency towards Antigone would amount to weakness of spirit and tolerance to dissension in his wards and rule. The king resolves to sentence her to in accordance with the law. Although Antigone’s quest was just, the king refuses to acknowledge this fact and proceeds to sentence her to death. Teresias highlights the faults in the king’s decisions and tries to convince the king against carrying out his harsh sentence (The Creon of Sophocles). Creon refuses to listen to counsel and brands Teresias a liar. The king believes that he is right in his course of action. He hardens his resolve and is unwilling to be seen as a weak and compromising king.
Antigone, however, has resolved to die and embraces death as a welcome relief. She remains adamant in her actions and embraces her fate despite the pleas of her sister and fiancé. She finds relief in the fact that she will die for her convictions against a king she believes is devoid of moral standing and a tyrannical ruler. Her death by hanging herself is a tragic result to her fiancé and mother. Her fiancé commits suicide beside her in a final act of love, making their death tragic in a romantic setting. The king is finally convinced on the folly of his action and arrives when it is too late to save either his son or Antigone (The Creon of Sophocles).
The king in an act of remorse honors Antigone by burring Polynices. He realizes that Polynices deserved a burial, since he died in the quest for his right, which his brother, had denied him. The deaths of the two brothers had been a result of the desire to wield power. Antigone’s death was her own choice. Her stubborn unrelenting nature can be viewed as her desire to die or to the superstitious perspective her stubbornness leads to her death in fulfilling prophesy to her families curse.