Creon's CorruptionHow has Creon become a corrupted leader?

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malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In reading the summary of Oedipus Rex on eNotes (I couldn't find an etext) it sounds like Creon was a pretty decent guy early on. He claimed to not want the throne, despite Oedipus' accusations to the contrary (although that may have been Creon pulling a Julius Caesar and refusing the crown three times to impress the people, which backfired on him...but that's another story!). But if he wasn't lying and was really looking out for the best interests of Thebes, then something happened between those events and the events we read about in Antigone.

I think he was very close to his sister's sons (he raised them after Jocasta's suicide), and when they fought and killed each other, all for the sake of power, he became unbalanced. He saw the consequences of anarchy - fighting over a throne - and determined from then on that he would not let that happen again. He also saw the complete ruination of his sister's family and perhaps, in his own twisted way, he thought he could prevent any further tragedy by keeping an iron grip on everybody and their actions.

malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Creon has become a tyrant, plain and simple.  He issues proclamations that must be followed under pain of death; he uses the body of his nephew, Polyneices, as a way of frightening people into submission; he dismisses the laws of the gods in properly burying someone and doing them the proper burial rites:

"But leave his corpse unburied, to be meat
For dogs and carrion crows, a ghastly sight.
So am I purposed; never by my will
Shall miscreants take precedence of true men,
But all good patriots, alive or dead,
Shall be by me preferred and honored."

His guards are terrified of being punished when it is discovered that someone has tried to bury Polyneices; and finally, he has his niece walled up to die because she disobeyed him.

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow!  Thanks for all your research and putting Creon on the couch! :)  That makes good sense.  Wouldn't it be fun for students to pretend like they had Creon on for a good grilling from Dr. Phil or Oprah??  I love to make them use the text but have fun with it.  You could ask them to do the research you've done, have a modern "stage" but ask for the responses to be from the text or from reserach.

Someday I'll have to post a video of my former students re-enacting the scene of Grendel and his mother in Beowulf.  It is a hoot!  They made costumes, had swords, memorized lines.  (More than one told me they may not remember everything, but they'll never forget what made Grendel so angry.  I guess I'll save that for my Beowulf DQs.)

malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Oh...and one more thing...He was close to Jocasta's sons, but not her daughters, Antigone and Ismene, who left with Oedipus after he blinded himself. He was a "man's man" and had no patience for the "whims" of women.  I mean, good grief, his own sister killed herself - that had to be painful, and perhaps he just shut himself off from caring for anymore women in case they went the way of his sister.  Then when one (Antigone) dared to defy the careful control he was keeping over his state he just totally lost it.

malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator there any way of figuring this out?  It's been too long since I've read Oedipux Rex, but I can check it out if there's an etext.  Does it mention Creon?  Or is this entirely speculation?

I'm going to give this more thought, and read up on Jocasta - seeing as how she's Creon's sister, perhaps if there's some weird genetic failing in there and she exhibits it, maybe we could point the finger to bad genes...otherwise, I'll go for the sugar snacks theory! :)

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is all true, but how did he become a tyrant?  Is it genetic, did his mother spank him? Did he eat too many sugary snacks?

I'm kidding, but you get the idea.