Creon and Antigone's Viewpoints
In all the cultures of the world, the viewpoint of an individual can be directly related to the person's behavior, therefore justifying that individual's actions. Unfortunately, even in the ancient Greek culture, sometimes these actions consequently conflict with the interests of others. For example, in Sophocles' Antigone, both Antigone and Creon have conflicting interests; but according to reason, both of their opinions are well justified. This accurately summarizes Antigone's actual theme of "Greek political ideas" versus "personal ... friendship" among family members (Juffras 2207A). Henceforth, the viewpoints of Creon and Antigone justify the rationale of their conflicting actions, therefore the opinions and viewpoints of other individuals are necessary to help judge the worthiness of particular individual's viewpoint.
First of all, Creon's reason for issuing "the decree forbidding Polynices' burial" was to avenge Polynices for raising a foreign army against his own people; because in the ancient Greek culture, it is believed spirits roam the earth in agony until the spirit's corpse is properly buried. As a result of Eteocles and Polynices killing themselves, Creon gained absolute power that allowed his ".. privileging of political (power) over personal friendship..." (Juffras 2207A). Therefore, Creon had the means of achieving vengeance for Polynices deeds.
Secondly, Antigone's reasoning "for rejecting Creon's" edict was to bestow honor to her deserving brother. Ismene argued against Antigone stating that women should agree with the men because men were "superior". But Antigone reasoned that mere mortals should not decide the consequence of souls; but rather, the Gods would take offense from this. This represents "... the play's symbolic verticality to refer to Antigone's mournfulness as a feminine ... nature opposed to the ... law of the explicit state" (Breitwieser 36). Even though Creon listened to Antigone's argument, he continued being headstrong and sentenced Antigone to be buried alive in a cave (ironically, this is the exact opposite punishment of her brother).
In the last attempt to save Antigone's life, Haemon pleaded to Creon not to punish his fiancee, Antigone, as severely as he had promised. Haemon was even bold enough to tell his father that he was acting stubbornly, especially for not listening to the people's opinions. Later in the play, a blind prophet even warns Creon that the Gods were not pleased with his decisions, but Creon continued to act immaturely. Opposite of Creon stubbornness, the king's advisors, also known as the chorus, had swaying opinions that readily agreed with anyone who had a point to make. Even "in [the] light of contemporary ideas" with various supporting evidences, Creon continued to have a fixed verdict (Juffras 2207A).
Even though there are many ways of interpreting Antigone Play, Antigone definitely had the most conceiving argument. For one reason, she logically deduced that it was not the place of a mortal to decide the outcome of a soul. For another reason, Haemon backed her argument by simply stating the general opinions of the people and pointing out Creon's own stubbornness. And of course, the prophet predicted terrible things would happen, if Creon continued to be arrogant. As a result, the Gods did punish Creon for his stubbornness by killing everyone he cared for. This proved Creon's misjudgment that he did not realize until it was too late.
- Breitwieser, Mitchell R. American Puritanism and the Defense of Mourning: Religion, Grief, and Ethnology in Mary White Rowlandson's Captivity Narrative. Wisconsin: Wisconsin UP, 1990.
- Juffras, Diane M. "Friendship and Faction in Sophocles: Greek Political Thinking and the Ajax, Antigone, and Oedipus at Colonus." DAI 49.08 (1989): 2207A.
- Sophocles. Antigone. New York: Oxford UP, 1973.
by Phil for Humanity