What are the major patterns of imagery in Sophocles' Antigone, especially with relation to Creon?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two major patterns in Creon's use of imagery is that he frequently uses imagery to refer to both stability and treachery.

We see him use imagery to refer to the stability he desires to create for Thebes in his speech explaining to the elderly citizens why he has passed a law forbidding Polynices' burial. He refers to Thebes' need to be stable and find allies in the line, "only when she is upright can our sailing find friends" (191-192). The references to the imagery of sailing help portray the image of smooth sailing, or stability, that is later contradicted by Ismene when she asks to die by her sister's side in the line, "I am not ashamed to sail those stormy seas beside you," which helps to portray the troubled state that Thebes is truly in (556-567).

Creon also frequently uses imagery to refer to treachery, especially with respect to Polynices. He refers to Polynices as "returned from exile with hopes of burning his native land" and as "wishing to feast on kindred blood and lead the rest into slavery" (201-201, 204-205). The reference to "burning his native land" is a sensory image related to sight and feel that helps conjure up the image of Polynices ravaging the city of Thebes. In addition, the reference to "feast on kindred blood" is a sensory image referring to hunger and taste, which also clearly depicts just how much Creon sees Polynices as a traitor. Creon also refers to treachery, or rebelliousness with relation to Antigone. He refers to her rebelliousness by stating how "spirited horses are broken with a small bit," which is another sensory image related to sight and alludes to his desires to break Antigone's will (490-491).

Therefore, some of Creon's imagery patterns portray whom he perceives as traitors and also his need to create stability.