How can we connect the theme of this poem to the theme of the Greek tragedy Antigone?

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rmhope | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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One way to compare the themes of "Ozymandias" and Antigone is to think of Ozymandias as a symbol of or a soul-mate to Creon, Antigone's uncle. Through the greater part of the play, Creon is ruling Thebes in the way Ozymandias must have ruled his Egyptian kingdom. Ozymandias' statue shows a "frown,/ And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command." Certainly that could describe Creon as he responds to Antigone, Haemon, and even the prophet Tiresias when they try to get him to change his mind about burying Polynices. Creon mocks them and becomes angry, asserting his prerogative to rule absolutely. We can imagine him saying or thinking when he imprisons Antigone in the tomb, "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Creon also seemed to have a "hand that mocked them, and a heart that fed," meaning an oppressive style of rule. However, Creon does have a change of heart near the end of the play, but we have no indication that Ozymandias ever repented of his oppression. When Creon suffers the deaths of his niece, his son, and his wife as a result of his tyranny, his life has become a "colossal wreck." He has lost everything that was important to him, and it is as if he is a fallen statue, once great, but now only an object to be pitied and wondered at, as the Chorus tells the audience at the end. The two works, then, share a theme that oppressive rulers will be ruined in the end--if not in this life like Creon, then at least in the eyes of history, like Ozymandias.

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