In Antigone, what aspect of Creon's position do you find reasonable? Which would you criticize? Is Antigone justified in opposing him?
Creon has several reasonable positions.
- He says, "Never, by deed of mine, shall the wicked stand in honour before the just." There's nothing wrong with giving honor to the good and withholding honor for the wicked. Creon errs, however, is making the issue so black and white. He has the option of buying Polyneices with full honors and allowing Eteocles to be buried in an unmarked grave.
- He says, "Be she sister's child, or nearer to me in blood than any that worships Zeus at the altar of our house,--she and her kinsfolk shall not avoid a doom most dire." That is, even if she is his own kin, he cannot treat her differently than any other person he rules. True justice is consistent, even when the person being punished is one dear to the punisher.
Antigone does, as well:
- She tells Creon, "Not such are the laws set among men by the justice who dwells with the gods below; nor deemed I that thy decrees were of such force, that a mortal could override the unwritten and unfailing statutes of heaven." In other words, the justice of the gods ranks higher than the justice of men (even that of kings). She was bound by kin to render at least minimal burial rites to her brother, even though she was legally forbidden to do so.
- "There is nothing shameful in piety to a brother." When Creon points out that Polyneices was her brother, as well, she points out that Eteocles wouldn't say he wasn't worthy of piety, either. Surely Polyneices himself wouldn't begrudge Eteocles a proper burial.
- When Creon says the good shouldn't share a portion with evil, she responds, "Who knows but this seems blameless in the world below?" That is, "Who are you to say what the gods desire?"
Yes...Antigone is justified in opposing him. While Creon has some good points, his logic is flawed.
He passed an edict in righteous anger, denying the traitor brother, Eteocles, any burial at all, pointedly declaring that his body must be left for scavengers to eat. He was wrong in refusing to rethink his rash judgment. (As an aside, most of his rhetoric seems based on the fact that Antigone is a woman and therefore he cannot possibly change his mind, as it would make him look lower than a woman; instead, he simply looks like a fool.)
His logic in the arguments about who deserves burial suffers from the Either/Or Fallacy. That is, either a man is to be buried with full honors or not to be buried at all. Of course there is a middle ground, which he continues to ignore, even after Antigone "buries" Eteocles by throwing handfuls of dirt on his body.
Antigone clearly has the better arguments.