In Antigone, what should Creon do when he learns Antigone is responsibile for the burial of her brother? What advice would you give to Creon?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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When Creon discovers that Antigone has defied his edict to bury her brother, he demands that she be brought before him, and he condemns her to death for defying his authority. Throughout the play, several characters attempt to persuade Creon that his action is rash and ill advised. Antigone, Haimon, and Teiresias all offer various arguments, appealing to his reason, his humanity, and his respect for the will of the gods. Although Creon eventually changes his mind, he acts too late, and the play ends in tragedy.

Creon's primary concern seems to be the restoration of civil order in Thebes. He views anarchy as the ultimate danger. He fears that if he rescinds his edict, he will appear weak and will lose control over his people. I would remind him that mercy is not a sign of weakness and that anarchy results when real justice is denied, when people feel their government is unresponsive to their humanity and their needs. Haimon warns Creon that the people really support Antigone and only remain silent because they fear Creon. I would point out to Creon that a ruler cannot maintain power indefinitely through fear. Finally, I would advise Creon to remember the underlying beliefs of his people and to honor them: a respect for the laws of the gods.

When Creon discovers it is Antigone who has buried Polyneices, he should pardon her and explain to the people that as their ruler he honors the laws of the gods and understands and respects a sister's love for her brother. He should tell his people that genuine strength is displayed through mercy and justice and that a king must rule through strength, not fear.

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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When Creon finds out that Antigone has buried her brother, the treacheous Polyneices, he faces a dilemma.  Creon recently issued a royal decree that any one who buries Polyneices will be put to death; the problem is that Antigone, in burying her brother, was fulfilling the religious law that required people to bury their relatives.  Thus, Creon is faced with a difficult conflict between religious law and royal law.  The case is only made more difficult by the fact that Antigone is his own niece. 

My advice to Creon would be to punish Antigone for disobeying his decree, but with a punishment far less severe than death.  Perhaps a fine or a very short stay in jail might be enough to allow Creon to retain his authority while at the same time showing his respect for religion and his mercy for his family.     

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In stark contrast to what he does do, I would simply advise Creon to "do something else."  I would emphasize the Creon seek out Antigone, privately, and try to work out some accord that could be livable for both of them.  One of Creon's primary faults is that he became so stubborn and defiant in how he presumed that his word could not be tested.  His lack of negotiability and flexibility helps to sow the seeds of his destruction and his family's dissolution.  I would advise him to speak with Antigone and do his best to find out a solution, indicating that no political leader benefits when acting without the consent of his people and in a manner where stubbornness for its own sake is the only motivation in action.

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