A man in the power always plays a big and tragic role in Greek tragedies. Especially in Antigone, the play written by one of the great Greek playwrights Sophocles around 440 B.C., the main antagonist Creon suffers tremendously due to his own attempts to fulfill his need for approval as the king of the Thebes. In this paper, analysis on his character and confrontation with others reveal the main theme of the play about how he fails to establish his own legitimacy of being the king.
The plot of Antigone can be described as a chain reaction of tragedies. Creon, who has just taken the power of the Thebes, orders to ban the burial of Polyneices who betrayed the state. This is Creon's first trial to show his power to the people he governs. However, Antigone defies his order and holds a funeral for his brother. Creon orders to send her to the prison. There she hangs herself. Following her death, her fiancée and Creon's son Haemon kills himself, too. Out of despair, Haemon's mother and Creon's wife Eurydice also kills herself. Creon is terribly shocked at realizing that his orders have ended up in this way. Besides these characters, Antigone's sister Ismene, the prophet Teiresias, and the Chorus, which represents the citizen's voice in Thebes, sometimes encourage, sometimes discourage the characters' intentions, and influence their decisions throughout the drama.
|A scene from Antigone|
What Creon shows in Antigone is how one's attempts to fulfill one's need for approval in a community can easily fail. One has to use different kinds of value systems, logics, social hierarchy, and principles such as father-son relationship and gender roles to persuade others and build one's legitimacy of being in the power. The play shows how often these attempts are likely to go wrong. In a sense, the play illustrates how difficult it is even in the Greek era to acquire and keep the legitimacy of the governor.