Examine the meaning of the words that conveyed by Sentry in Antigone: "How dreadful it is when the right judge judges wrong!"

1 Answer

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The Sentry's line is eerily reminiscent of Teiresias from Oedipus.  The sentiment that the Sentry conveys is that the person in the position of power (the "right judge") makes a terribly ill- informed and miscalculated decision ("judges wrong.")  The line is powerfully conveyed because the word "judge" is used as both noun and verb, with the former being a position of rightful power and the latter reflecting a poor use of it.  Similar to Teiresias' notion in Oedipus of "How terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the man who is wise," Creon finds himself in an awful moment of realization when his own judgment has wrought unimaginable destruction.  Creon's judgment of putting to death the one responsible for violating his laws has done more of a disservice to the larger cause of justice.  The Sentry's words help to bring this out, conveying the idea that even the most embedded judge with power and authority can make dreadful decisions if they do not treat their position with a sense of prudent analysis.  Creon's real tragic condition is that he ruled with a sense of the contingent and the substantiation of power in mind, and not with the transcendent understanding of justice and fairness as part of his decision making process.  It is here where the dread in his judgment lies, confirmed by the horrific ending of the drama.