Creon is King

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Power can can cause a leader to neglect his conscience. In Sophocle’s Antigone, Creon unexpectedly becomes king over Thebes. He opens up his inaugural address by stating three qualities that make a king an efficient leader. He additionally makes a law stating that it is forbidden for anyone to bury Polyneices, the former prince, for he is considered a traitor. Shortly after Creon’s speech, the princess of Thebes, Antigone, defies Creon’s law and buries Polyneices. While Creon is king, he contradicts each of his morals due to his increasing level of hubris.

In Creon’s opening speech he makes an idealistic statement regarding how he must be respected as king, but he fails to abide by it. Creon surprisingly becomes king after the deaths of both Eteocles and Polyneices, the two former princes. Creon states, “I am aware, of course, that no ruler can expect complete loyalty from his subjects until he has been tested in office” (196). He sets the tone that he will be the leader who understands that he might not always be obeyed. Right after Creon’s inaugural address, he finds himself in a position where he is discussing the punishment of Antigone, with his son, Haimon. Creon tells Haimon, “Whoever is chosen to govern should be obeyed- Must be obeyed, in all things, great and small, Just and unjust!” (217). Creon implies that he must be obeyed in everything that he does, even if it is unjust. Creon ends up in the opposite direction of where he started. He starts off representing himself as a new king, who is okay knowing that he might not receive full loyalty from his state. However, in the end, obedience is demanded from all.

Creon says that every leader must do what is best for the state, however, as time goes on he lets his arrogance get the best of him, and does not do what is best for the state. In Creon’s inaugural speech he says, “I have nothing but contempt for the king of Governor who is afraid, for whatever reason, to follow the course that he knows is best for the State” (196-197). A ruler must always put the states’ needs ahead of his own. During Creon’s discussion with Haimon regarding Antigone’s punishment for burying Polyneices, he says that “The State is the King!” (221). When Creon says that he is the state, he shows that he thinks that only what he says matters. This contradicts the principle that every king must do what is best for the state because if he is the only one that matters, then he will not end up doing what is best for the state. He is letting his ego take over the way that he rules the state.

Creon’s pride does not only cause him to contradict his first two statements, but it causes him to go against his final statement as well. Creon concludes his inaugural address by saying, “And as for the man who sets private friendships above the public welfare,- I have no use for him either” (197). Creon says that no ruler may put personal matters before the states. This claim is a result of his first two statements. After Creon demands that the members of the state obey him, and by believing that only what he says matters, Creon continues to let his arrogance get the best of him, and he puts personal matters before the state. Shortly after Creon’s speech, his son, Haimon, approaches him regarding the law that he made forbidding the burial of Polyneices. Haimon tells Creon that he should listen to the voices of other people, for he is not the only one who knows how to reason. Creon immediately shuts down Haimon’s words by saying, “You consider it right for a man of my years and experience To go to school to a boy” (220)? Creon refuses to listen to his son due to his young age. This is openly defying what Creon said about not putting personal matters before the state’s. By letting Haimon’s age get in the way of listening to his reasoning, Creon puts his personal feeling before the needs of the state.

Haughtiness is what causes Creon to oppose all of his claims in his opening address. In the beginning of the play, Creon’s intellectual self defines three qualities that are needed to be a successful and just king. However, as the play unfolds, Creon lets his self pride take over how he views himself, the way he rules the state, and the way he deals with personal matters, ultimately leading to the death of everyone around him. Actions speak louder than words. Creon’s actions prove that the ideals that he commits to rule by are just empty promises.

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Creon Is King. (2022, Apr 06). Retrieved May 20, 2024 , from

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