How is there a lack of accountability in a nationalist ideology in Antigone?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In SophoclesAntigone, there is a lack of accountability in a nationalist ideology. The character who best exemplifies this is Creon, the acting King of Thebes.

Nationalism is a political system in which the good of a particular nation is the top priority of that nation, even if it comes at the expense of others. Creon is a nationalist ruler. His primary concern is the good of Thebes; this narrow-minded view often blinds Creon to other considerations.

Instead of punishing Eteocles for unfairly denying Polynices his turn at the throne, Creon only cares that Polynices attacked Thebes with a foreign army. He does not hold Eteocles accountable for reneging on his agreement with Polynices. Eteocles is given full funeral rites and a proper burial, even though he was the cause of the conflict between the two brothers. Creon decides that Polynices’s body will be left to rot on the battlefield and that anyone who interferes will be sentenced to death.

Creon also refuses to hold himself accountable until it is too late. Tiresias warns him that his treatment of Antigone will bring the wrath of the gods down on Thebes, but Creon dismisses him initially, believing that Antigone aided a traitor to Thebes by burying Polynices. Creon ignores Tiresias’s and Haemon’s pleas for Antigone’s release because his sense of nationalism blinds him to reason. It is not until Antigone, Haemon, and Eurydice all commit suicide that Creon accepts responsibility and holds himself accountable for his role in the tragedies.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team