Oedipus Versus Creon
At first glance, Oedipus and Creon are two very different people. But as time progresses their personalities and even their fates grow more and more similar. In Sophocles’s play “Oedipus the King”, Oedipus and Creon are two completely opposite people. Oedipus is brash and thoughtless, whilst Creon is wise and prudent. In “Oedipus the King”, Oedipus effectively portrays the idea of the classic “flawed hero”. He becomes arrogant and brash. He accuses Creon and Tiresias of treachery. Even worse however, Oedipus goes against the gods. This causes them to punish him severely. Creon is the exact antithesis of Oedipus. He thinks before he acts. Creon is wise and loyal. In Sophocles’ other play, “Antigone”, however, he undergoes a drastic personality change. He becomes more and more like Oedipus. Creon commits acts of hubris, kills and humiliates people for no reason whatsoever. Once he realizes the folly of his ways, he punishes himself for going against the gods and destroying all that he loved, This is strikingly similar to the story of Oedipus. At first Oedipus and Creon seem like entirely different people. But through the course of events, they share almost identical personalities and even fates.
In “Oedipus the King”, Oedipus is a brash and arrogant ruler while Creon is his patient, thoughtful right hand man. After Oedipus and his sons all die and Creon becomes king of Thebes, he begins to grow wilder and even more out of control than Oedipus was. In “Oedipus the King” Oedipus accused Creon of bribing Tiresias, the blind prophet, to make a prediction that will doom Oedipus. He accuses Creon of “plotting to kill the king” (189). He does this without any concrete evidence or proof. Oedipus rationalizes that because Creon induced him to “send for that sanctimonious prophet [Tiresias]” (190), he is responsible for the prophecy. Oedipus assumes that “if the two of you [Creon and Tiresias] had never put heads together, we would never have heard” (192) the prophecy. Creon even calls Oedipus a man is full of “crude, mindless stubbornness” (190). Oedipus lashed out at Creon for “betraying a kinsman” (192). He did so without any evidence or proof. He just did accused Creon without thinking about the consequences. Although Creon stands against rashness and unthinking now, he soon becomes another Oedipus. In “Antigone”, Creon portrays all the character traits that made Oedipus such a bad ruler. Creon proclaims that no person can bury Antigone’s brother, Polynices. Soon enough however, a guard comes running in to tell him that Polynices has indeed been buried. Creon is furious. He immediately accuses the guard of burying him. “You are a born nuisance” (75), he says, “You squandered your life for money” (75). The guard summarizes Creon’s transformation from patient ruler to brash king when he says “Oh it’s terrible when the one who does the judging judges things all wrong” (75). Creon, just like Oedipus, accused the guard of something he didn’t do. He lacked proof and he had little evidence, but he proclaimed him to death anyway.
Oedipus and Creon are alike in yet another way. They both committed vile acts of hubris. Both of them went against the gods for feckless and pointless reasons. Oedipus committed hubris by insulting Tiresias. He accuses Tiresias of “betraying us, destroying Thebes” (177). Tiresias is a prophet of the gods. He is just telling Oedipus what he has seen. Tiresias’s refusal to tell Oedipus his secrets only results in more name-calling and humiliation. Oedipus calls him the “scum of the earth” (178). Oedipus is so enraged by his prophecies that he accuses him of “helping to hatch the plot” (178). Oedipus suspects that Tiresias is being bribed. “Who primed you for this? Not your prophet’s trade” (179), he says. Oedipus’ rashness lead him to accuse Tiresias, a prophet of the gods and a wise seer, that he is corrupt and a fraud. This is obviously insulting to the gods and leads to his downfall. Creon himself commits an even greater act of hubris. He refuses to bury the body of Polynices, the brother of Antigone, who tried to attack Thebes. This is a direct violation of the gods and all their laws of death. When Antigone is confronted by Creon about her illegal burial of Polynices, she claims that “it wasn’t Zeus, not in the least, who made this proclamation. (82). She adds that “The justice, dwelling with the gods beneath the earth [did not] ordain such laws for men” (82). Creon has assumed the risky business of saying that he, “a mere mortal, could override the gods” (82). For this dangerous sin of hubris, Creon is punished severely. Just like Oedipus was.
Because of their acts of hubris, Creon and Oedipus are both punished severely. They lose everything they love and all they value. They eventually see the error of their ways, but by the time they do it is already too late. Oedipus finds out that he is the person who killed his father. He discovers that he is married to his mother and that he has had children with her. Once Oedipus finds out these horrific secrets of his life, he cannot bear to look upon another living soul. He rushes into Jocasta’s bedroom and takes two “long gold pins” (237). He then “digs them down into his sockets” (237). This act of self mutilation is Oedipus’s punishment. He is turned from an arrogant ruler into a humble blind man in the blink of an eye. This is how the gods punished him. They gave him “all the griefs in the world that you can name” (237) Creon receives a very similar punishment. He too, loses all he deems valuable in the world. Creon will not allow Haemon to marry Antigone. He condemns their marriage and greatly distresses his son, Haemon. As a result of Creon’s actions, Haemon commits suicide, “his blood spilled by his very hand” (120). Eurydice, Creons’s wife, also kills herself. She is so wracked with anguish by Haemon’s suicide, that she “stabbed herself at the altar” (126). Creon “murdered his son and his wife.” (127). He has nowhere to “lean to for support” (127) and no-one to “look to” (127). The chorus sums up his and Oedipus’s fate when they say ” The mighty words of the proud are paid in full with mighty blows of fate, and at long last those blows will teach us wisdom” (128)
Creon and Oedipus were obviously very similar people. They both rose through chance and circumstance and they both fell because of their brashness and hubris. Creon started off as a very different person to Oedipus. But once he became king, he immediately became an almost identical person to Oedipus. He was rash, unthinking and uncaring. This resulted in his downfall just as it caused Oedipus’.