Oedipus Rex and Antigone

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Of all the plays we have reviewed Oedipus Rex and Antigone are the only ones with a continuing story with repeating characters and in both stories. This allows characters to grow and change through the stories. For example, Creon plays an important role in both stories. However, due to the passing of time in between the plays, Creon becomes a different type of character at the end of Antigone. At the start of Oedipus Rex, Creon seems like a good character that only wants the best for the city, but when Antigone starts he is a completely different character with different goals.

At the beginning of Oedipus Rex, a deadly curse cast by a sphinx was destroying the city of Thebes. Creon, the brother-in-law to the king at the time, was asked by Oedipus, the king, to ask the gods for help. They told him to find the previous king’s killer and exile him. To do that Creon went to find the Blind Prophet Tiresias. But when Creon brought Tiresias to Oedipus, Tiresias revealed some shocking news that Oedipus was the one that killed the previous king. Outraged, Oedipus denounced it as a plot of Creon to gain the throne. The two men were about to fight if not for Jocasta, Creon’s sister, who managed to calm Oedipus down. She reassured him by telling him about an old prophecy that her son would kill his father and have children by her. She stated that to prevent this prophecy of happening she abandoning her nearly born son in the mountains and her previous husband died to robbers. This newly found information made Oedipus uneasy due to the fact that he had similar experiences. He recalled having killed a man with a similar description of the late king around the same time that it was announced that he had died. They later realized that the prophecy had come true and Oedipus was Jocasta’s lost son and that the robber that killed Laius was Oedipus. At the discovery of this information Jocasta her hung herself and Oedipus stabbed out his eyes and left in exile to fix the curse leaving Coern to deal with the aftermath.

Oedipus at Colonus took place several years after Oedipus was banished from Thebes, the city, and has been ramped with chaotic. Creon, who was left to clean up when Oedipus left, had to deal with Oedipus’s two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, fighting over rulership for the city. Creon sought out Oedipus in Athens to ask him for assisted to deal with the two sons. Oedipus refused, stating that he is being used as a pawn in the Theban power struggle, and if the people truly wanted to welcome him back they would not have ignored the suffering he endured for the past couple of years. This angered Creon as he only wanted the best for the city and Oedipus was being selfish. He decided to kidnap Oedipus’s two daughters, Antigone and Ismene, who was with Oedipus throughout his journey and held them hostage to forces Oedipus to help. Theseus, the king of Athen, arrived just in time to stop Creon from taking Oedipus and his two daughters away. Shortly after this event, Oedipus's son Polynices comes to see his father. Polynices said that he felt downhearted for neglected his father for so long. He also added that the oracles said that if he gained the support of Oedipus he would win the war for Thebes. This infuriated Oedipus and cursed him with a prophecy that Polynices's attack on Thebes would fail, and that the two brothers would kill each other in battle. Just before Polynices left, he asked his sisters that if Oedipus’s prophecy did come true and he dies in battle could they give him a proper burial. A thunderstorm began which signaled Oedipus that his time to die has arrived. He asked King Theseus if he could be buried in Athen and if he could send his daughter back to Thebes which he agreed to.

In Antigone, The fighting between Eteocles and Polynices has come to an end with both sons of Oedipus died. This left Creon to lead the city himself. As the king of Thebes, Creon was a complete tyrant ruler. Creon ordered Eteocles buried and left Polynices to rot due to his attempt to woo Oedipus to his side. Antigone fulfilled her promise to Polynices and gave him a proper burial. Creon, outraged at this act of defile, announced that she would be jailed and executed. However, before she could be executed she hung herself in her cell. After the news spread Haemon, Creon’s son and Antigones’ fiance, stabbed himself to death and followed by Eurydice, Antigones’ sister, who jumped out her window. This left Creon with no family left.

In the three plays, Creon wanted the best for the city of Thebes. In Oedipus Rex, Creon was the voice of reason. While Oedipus was intolerant about his fate and wanted to banish Creon out of the city he remained calm and firm about the true and did not give in. By the end of the first play, Creon seemed to have proved himself as a sensible and responsible leader for the now kingless Thebes. However in Oedipus at Colonus Creon’s character changed and emerged as manipulative and was willing to do anything to gain his ends. This development might have been due to the statue of Thebes and him having to make rash decisions for the city. When Creon could not talk Oedipus in returning back to the Thebes he feels no remorse about kidnapping his nieces and starting a war with Theseus. He believed that his actions were justified if the end turned out good, and all he wanted to do was protect the city that he was left to take care of. However, in Antigone Creon changed even more due to his time on the throne. Instead of accepting it as a responsibility and a duty to rule as king of Thebes as he did previously in Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus, the Creon we see in Antigone maintains the throne as his unquestioned right and rules the city for his own good rather than for the people. He was ruthless to anyone that did not agree with agenda and that also included his son, Haemon, who tried to be the voice of reason to him as the Creon did in Oedipus Rex spoke to Oedipus. Creon in Antigone mirrored how Oedipus character was like in Oedipus Rex thus his fate was also similar to his. He was full of pride and ambition at the start, but by the play's conclusion, Creon suffers the wrath of the gods and fate like Oedipus did. He ended up losing everyone he cared for due to his actions.

Like in all good literature, character development is needed to tell an in-depth story. The transforming took place over three plays and several years in the story. Creon’s development through the plays has been seen in many stories in which the hero turns into the villain and form a brand new character.

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Oedipus Rex and Antigone. (2020, Jun 09). Retrieved July 18, 2024 , from

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