One City; Two Corrupt Leaders In the plays Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles, Oedipus and Creon exert similar characteristics as leaders that ultimately result in their characterization as tragic heroes.
They take a similar course throughout their stories, which leads to a similar fate, resulting in tragedy. Both characters tried to revive a city in need, but in the process, the hubris they possessed got in the way. Both men had the chance to see that their actions would lead to a tragic ending, but neither one could see around their pride.Because of their tragic flaws, these two rulers caused great pain to themselves, their family and the people of Thebes. Although Oedipus and Creon ruled over Thebes at different times, the truth is that they both are similarly defined by their tragic actions because of their overbearing determination, uncontrollable fate, and enormous grievances. With the intentions of making Thebes a better city, Oedipus and Creon both set laws they thought would help the people, but they both made themselves blind to their own fates and sped their demise.When Oedipus began his reign, Thebes was suffering from the plague, and to ensure the happiness of his city, Oedipus promised the people of Thebes that he would find the person who killed the king Laius and exile them, so that the gods would restore health to the city.
When he does this, he is unaware that he himself killed the king, who also happened to be his father. Oedipus spends much of the play searching for this so-called murderer and does not realize that his determination to find them is only hurting himself.In the opening scene of Antigone, Creon decided that a “traitor” does not deserve a proper burial even what that traitor is his own blood. He then announced that anyone caught burying Polynices, will be publically stoned to death. Later on, Creon got news that someone had tried to bury Polynices. This person was Antigone. Creon needed to keep control over the people of Thebes, and if he let Antigone go, he would be showing weakness. If he did not put Antigone to death, he could never expect his people to respect him as a leader.
Creon’s determination to keep power blinded him from seeing his own fate, just as Oedipus had done. Creon never figured out that by putting Antigone to death, he would also be killing his son and his wife. Neither Oedipus nor Creon wants to show that they are weak leaders so they ironically empower their tragic flaws with what they think is right. Both characters’ overbearing determination caused them to take actions that would ultimately hurt the ones they were trying to protect.Even if they had taken a moment to look at what they were doing, neither leader could have done anything due to the fates they were meant to endure. Tiresias, a blind prophet, visited both Oedipus and Creon, and played a key part in the fate of both men.
Oedipus sees Tiresias and is given news that angers him. Like the prophecy said, he had been raised by two people that were not his real parents, he had murdered his father, and he had married his mother. Oedipus did not want to believe this, but no matter how many times he denied it, his fate was inevitable and everything that Tiresias had said was true.Creon also sees Tiresias and reacts the same way that Oedipus did. Tiresias tells Creon that because of his dreadful actions, he will have to pay with his own flesh. Creon does not want to believe the things he has heard, just as Oedipus did not. And just as Oedipus could not, Creon could not control what would happen. His actions led to the death of his own son, his wife, and Antigone.
Both leaders, having their futures already determined, could do nothing but sit back and watch the ends of their stories unfold.With these uncontrollable fates, both Oedipus and Creon would experience enormous grievances, which would lead them to realize that Tiresias had been right all along and that they should have taken time to think over their actions. Both Oedipus and Creon experience terrible loses at the end of each play, which causes them to feel grief and remorse for their actions.
After Oedipus receives the shocking revelation from Tiresias that he is the man that he has scorned and sentenced to exile, his mother, whom he married, kills herself and Oedipus realizes that all of his life he had been living a lie.Oedipus grieves over the loss of his beloved wife and mother but is also disgusted with himself. He cannot live with the shame of his incest, so he takes the broche from the dress of Jocasta and proceeds to blind himself. He is terribly upset over everything that has happened and cannot live with the reactions he fears he will get from the people of Thebes. Oedipus then follows through on the law he had set and exiles himself from the city.
At he end of Antigone, Creon goes to the cave he has enclosed Antigone in, only to find his son Haimon has beaten him there and Antigone hanging from the roof of the cave. Haimon is so angry with his father that upon Creon’s arrival to the cave, Haimon tries to stab Creon. He is unsuccessful, but then turns around and stabs himself. Creon has now lost two of his relatives and is about to lose one more. Creon’s wife Eurydice receives the news that for the second time, one of her sons has died. She is so grief-stricken by the horrific news that she too ends her life, adding to the guilt that Creon feels.
Both of tragic heroes, Oedipus and creon, make decisions that in the long run, ruin the respect the city has for them and brings themselves terrible sorrow and the wish that they could redo it all. The goal to better the city of Thebes was never achieved by Oedipus, or Creon, due to the fact that each character had a sense of relentless pride and overbearing determination. These similar characteristics led to similar fates causing both men to be overcome with grief, and the people of Thebes to realize that both leaders were essentially corrupted by their own need for power and control of their lives.
The tragic actions pursued by Oedipus and Creon only led to chaos and destruction as their family fell apart along with their city and their own sanity. They faced the same difficulties and faced them the same way, leading both leaders to their demise. It becomes apparent to the reader that Creon and Oedipus share the same blood and genes, because neither man is able to realize their fate or deal with the consequence. Their pride, determination and inevitable fate got in the way of proper ruling of Thebes, but neither man could control what was meant to be.