Discuss the role of Creon in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex.

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noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Creon is the brother of Jocasta, which makes him the brother-in-law of Oedipus.

In the first part of Sophocles' play, Creon serves as sort of an ambassador for Oedipus, as Creon goes to the Delphic oracle to learn what the Thebans should do to remedy the plague that afflicts their town.

Creon's next appearance has a much different tone as he tries to defend himself from Oedipus' accusation that he is plotting against Oedipus. Ultimately, the argument between the two men becomes so heated that Jocasta has to intervene.

By the end of the play, after Oedipus blinds himself, Creon becomes king of Thebes and Oedipus begs him to take care of his two daughters. As at the first of the play, Creon consulted the Delphic oracle, now too at the end of the play Creon indicates, in response to Oedipus' request to cast him out of Thebes, that he will make sure this is what the gods intend:

That is something I could do, of course,

but first I wish to know what the god says

about what I should do. (Ian Johnston translation)

Thus, in Sophocles' play, Creon appears as a loyal and god-fearing person who does his brother-in-law's bidding in the first part of the play, then suffers his accusations of treason, and finally treats him with some compassion at the play's conclusion.

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Creon, Oedipus's brother-in-law (and uncle, though they do not realize this connection until the end of the play), serves as a foil for Oedipus, the protagonist. A foil is a character who contrasts in some key way(s) with another character, helping to emphasize some important trait(s) of the other character, usually the protagonist. Creon's cool thoughtfulness emphasizes Oedipus's rashness; Creon's discretion emphasizes Oedipus's faulty and thoughtless bravado.

For example, when Creon returns from the oracle at Delphi, he suggests that they retire inside so that Creon can tell Oedipus what she said. However, Oedipus professes that he would rather hear Creon's news out in the open, and he doesn't think about any potential consequences of this. Later, he becomes so angry while speaking with Teiresias, the blind prophet, that he jumps to the conclusion that the prophet is in league with Creon, plotting against Oedipus. He has no proof, and such a suspicion is really groundless and irrational. Despite Creon's quite rational explanation of why he would never want to be king himself, Oedipus persists in his accusations. Throughout the play, Creon is measured and calm while Oedipus is hot-headed and impulsive.